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How Long Are Cats Pregnant?

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hglick has been rescuing and placing stray cats for over 20 years and has personally fostered more than 10 rescues .


Most cat owners want to know how long cats are pregnant so they can plan for their new family.

The length of time a cat is pregnant is known as the gestation period. The cat gestation period can also be defined as the period from a successful mating to birth.

Basically, Cats are pregnant for as short as 18 days or as long as 72 days. In general, the more cats in a litter, the shorter the gestation period. Commonly, cats will be born in batches to ensure they have enough milk.

A pregnant cat is called a queen. Once the queen becomes pregnant she will usually move to a quiet place where no one will bother her. She may move to a different home or find a hidden place such as a closet, basement, or even under the bed. She becomes very protective because she realizes her vulnerability to other animals.

How Soon Can You Tell If a Cat Is Pregnant?

During the first 21 to 28 days of a cat gestation period, there are hardly any detectable signs of pregnancy other than a weight gain.

At 35 days the nipples start to grow and become pinkish. Following this, the breasts enlarge and a milky fluid can become visible from the nipples.

Early on, the detection of kittens is very difficult to observe. At 28 days they are not any larger than a tiny walnut.(one inch in size). At 35 days they float in capsules of fluid and are even more difficult to detect. At this point, an owner might notice that the queens' abdomen is getting larger. By 49 days the kittens are shaped like sausages and their heads are usually large enough to be felt independently.

If the cat is being observed by a veterinarian they can make a diagnosis between a True pregnancy and a False pregnancy, which is more common than believed by the average cat owner. the signs of a false pregnancy usually disappear at about five weeks. but can continue up to 45 days.

How to Tell if Your Cat Is Pregnant

How Long after a Cat Starts Showing will She Give Birth?

A Cat will give birth approximately 28-34 days after she starts showing the signs of swollen nipples and weight gain.

The wait is almost over! Your female cat is ready to give birth to her litter. Cats usually give birth within 24 hours of when labor starts. You will know that your cat is going into labor when she is restless and pacing around the house. You will feel her start to push, and she will vocalize that she is in pain. She will then go to a private quiet place to give birth to her kittens.

When labor is going smoothly it is best not to interfere with the queen because she knows instinctively what to do.

Most kittens are born 15-30 minutes apart but this can change. Even though most deliveries are complete in two to six hours sometimes a queen goes out of labor and finishes giving birth 12 to 24 hours later.

It might be wise to have a veterinarian examine your cat after she has delivered her last kitten to make sure there are no retained kittens or placentas. He may give her an injection to clear the uterus.

As each day progresses you may want to check in on the newborns periodically to be sure that none of them is being smothered and that each of them is getting an adequate supply of milk. If everything goes smoothly, the process of observing the newborns usually occurs 65-70 days after Gestation.

Cat Pregnancy Timeline


Cat Gestation Period Stages

STAGENamePeriod of TimeAction


Latent/Silent Phase

11 Days

fertilized egg attaches to Uterus

implantation occurs


Active Phase

52 Days

Kittens Develop

Mother's Uterus Stretches to Accommodate Growing Kittens

A normal cat pregnancy range would be kittens born between the 63rd and 69th day. Siamese cats can carry for a bit longer, however any conception before the 58th day may be too young to survive.

Cat Pregnancy Stages

When Can You Feed a Pregnant Cat?

During the first 4 weeks, you can feed the queen her normal intake of higher quality cat food. Protein requirements will increase during the second half of the pregnancy. You may increase her food ration by 50% while making sure she stays trim. Excessive weight gain should be avoided. If she is overnourished, the kittens will be bigger and harder to deliver.

A queen may lose her appetite a week or two before delivery because her abdomen is filled with kittens and it may be difficult for her to take in all she requires in one or two meals. It will be better to feed her in several small meals spaced throughout the day.

By all means, do not medicate a pregnant cat unless permitted by your vet.

A pregnant cat may refuse to eat when she enters the final stage of her pregnancy during week 9

Can My Cat Still Be Pregnant After Giving Birth?

What Will Prolong Labor In a Cat?

Dystocia represents the prolongation of any phase of labor. It is usually due to a narrow birth canal or the failure of the uterus to develop enough strength to expel the fetus. This is much more common in older brood queens that are allowed to become too fat. Essentially, this is why you should keep a queen fit and healthy.

It is also likely to happen when there are only one or two kittens in the litter which have a tendency to become too large.

If Dystocia occurs and you are unsure as to the procedure required to help the queen, you should always call your vet. It is certainly better to call your veterinarian on a "false alarm" even if only to gain reassurance. Usually, the vet can deal with the problem rather simply if attended to quickly. But, the same problem, when neglected, can lead to an emergency operation.


  • The Cat Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook by Delbert G. Carlson, D.V.M and James M. Giffin, M.D. - First Edition


hglick (author) from Riverhead,NY on May 07, 2021:

Thank You

Sp Greaney from Ireland on May 07, 2021:

This is so interesting. All of my cats have been spayed. This is a really good guide for anyone looking for information on a pregnant cat.

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