How Can I Tell If a Stray Cat is Pregnant?
You can tell a stray cat is pregnant by recognizing the most obvious physical indicators - a swollen belly and darkened nipples. A telltale sign in behavior is that pregnant cats start nesting towards the end of their pregnancies in an effort to find a safe, quiet place to give birth. If possible, the best way to verify if a stray cat is pregnant is to take her to a veterinarian because some cats do exhibit signs of false pregnancy.
Physical Changes During Cat Pregnancy
Cats have very quick pregnancies (only nine weeks!), so physical changes in cats are visible very quickly. Fifteen to eighteen days into pregnancy, a cat's nipples become more pronounced, enlarged and darker pink in color. This is called "pinking up." About half way through her pregnancy, the mother's belly appears more rounded and hangs lower when she stands. If you can get close enough to the cat, you might also be able to see the kittens moving inside her belly and possibly even feel them moving.
Just like humans, some pregnant cats experience vomiting (or morning sickness). However, you might not observe this behavior in a stray cat if she isn't around all the time. Another behavioral change is increased appetite. If you are feeding a stray cat who is pregnant, you may notice her coming around more often, eating more frequently, or eating larger quantities of food. As she nears the end of her pregnancy, a mother cat may exhibit nesting behaviors. This usually occurs during the last two weeks before the kittens are born. The mother is looking for a quiet, safe place to give birth and care for her newborn kittens, so you may notice her hiding out and laying low. A stray cat may recognize that you and your house represent safety, so she may stay close to your home more often than usual.
Taking in a Pregnant Stray Cat
Some people may choose to bring in a stray cat that is pregnant. When you bring a stray cat into your home, you'll want to isolate her from other pets as well as provide for her immediate needs like food, water and warmth. If possible, take the mother to a veterinarian for a wellness check and to verify her pregnancy. The vet can also check for a microchip and provide helpful guidance for the kittens' delivery. When the kittens are old enough, they can also receive their recommended vaccinations and get spayed or neutered and you can begin looking for new homes for them. You've done a wonderful thing by opening your home to a pregnant stray cat! If you only plan to temporarily take care of the mother and her kittens, you might consider helping them find safe and happy homes once they are healthy and independent. Creating a Rehome profile can be a great way to find your momma cat and her babies a loving forever family. Check out these great tips for how to find a permanent home for your stray cats.
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