The 5 Stages of Cat Pregnancy

Is your cat pregnant? We hope not. But if so, we answer some questions like, "How long are cats pregnant?" and go through the stages of cat pregnancy.
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I’m a big advocate for spay/neuter. It’s a crucial part of the equation for reducing the number of cats killed in shelters, and having your cat spayed or neutered improves cat health, reducing the chances of injury and disease. But a lot of us encounter cat pregnancy at some point, whether through working at a clinic or shelter, an accidental liaison or deliberate breeding. So, how long are cats pregnant for and what should you expect week by week? Let’s look at the five stages of cat pregnancy:

1. Fertilization

A pregnant white cat.
How long are cats pregnant for? Photography ©Doucefleur | iStock / Getty Images Plus.

When answering the question “How long are cats pregnant?” let’s first discuss at what age cats start going into heat. Cats reach sexual maturity as early as six months of age, with Oriental breeds generally reaching this stage the earliest. I’ve even heard of cats going into heat at five months old, which is a good reason to have your girl kitty spayed early. A litter of kittens can have more than one father, depending on how many toms successfully mate with the queen.

The simple answer to”How long are cats pregnant?” is two months, or nine weeks. But that’s just an estimate. Depending on what source you consult, the answer to “How long are cats pregnant?” ranges from 58 to 72 days.

2. The early stage of cat pregnancy

Another question you might have when thinking “How long are cats pregnant?” is — “Do cats get morning sickness?” You might be surprised to know that a cat can get morning sickness during the early stage of her pregnancy. For the first two weeks of her pregnancy, your cat may eat less because of the nausea, but by the third week she’ll start eating again and begin gaining weight. By the third week, you may be able to feel the lumps of her developing kittens.

3. The middle stage of cat pregnancy

Now your cat starts gaining weight in earnest. The kittens are getting bigger, and depending on how many kittens she’s carrying, she may start looking like she swallowed a football. If you want to know how many kittens your cat is going to have, your vet may do an X-ray at this time.

4. Pre-labor

Since the answer to “How long are cats pregnant?” isn’t an exact science, you might wonder how to tell when your cat is getting close to giving birth. The pre-labor stage starts about a week before your cat gives birth. Her nipples will be very visible at this point, and you may even see milk drops on them. She will start looking for warm and safe places to create a nest for her kittens. You can help her at this time by offering nesting boxes in the places she seems to prefer. Your cat will stop eating about two days before she goes into labor.

5. Labor and delivery

It will be pretty obvious when your cat goes into labor. She’ll start licking her genitals and may even make noises of discomfort. If this is her first litter, she may pace and act anxious. She should give birth to her first kitten about an hour after labor starts. After that, the kittens should come every 15 to 20 minutes until the last one has been born.

Generally, mom cat will clean up the kittens: She’ll lick them and eat the placentas to give her the extra nutrition she needs. Let her eat those placentas, even if you think it’s gross.

There’s no need to panic or rush your cat to the vet when she goes into labor. Just keep an eye on things and make sure the delivery is progressing normally. The kittens need to be with their mothers for a minimum of eight weeks in order to be properly weaned, but 12 weeks with mom is better.

Once the babies are weaned, get your queen spayed as soon as possible. She can go into heat pretty quickly once she no longer has to nurse her kittens.

Tell us: Did you know the answer to the question “How long are cats pregnant”? Have you had a pregnant cat or witnessed a cat give birth? What did you think?

Top Photograph: Getty Images

This piece was originally published in 2015.

Read more about cat pregnancy and cats in heat on Catster.com:

51 thoughts on “The 5 Stages of Cat Pregnancy”

  1. My next door neighbor adopted a kitten from a shelter several months ago. She decided she didn't like her and threw her out. The kitten became somewhat of a community cat and had many in our neighborhood to rely on for food and a place to nap. She chose me as her person and sleeps in my bed a lot. Just after I bought her some Fancy Feast and she started eating healthy she soon became pregnant. She still technically belongs to the girl next door and when her children come every other weekend for visitation, they take the cat and keep her for a night then she finds her way back over here. I have grown to love this kitty and have always maintained the mindset that I am keeping her safe for the kids she originally belonged to as I know they love her. However, when she has her litter I don't know where she will have them but I don't think I can take care of a bunch of baby kittens and I am pretty sure my landlord wouldn't be very happy about it. But I am a softy when it comes to little fuzzy faces and now I think I might be screwed 😳

  2. Leave the opinions out of facts of birthing animals might have better results , you opinion on animals being spayed or neutered , and how awful a pregnant cat being is aren’t necessary for viewers to learn about birthing and their animals :) sometimes your opinion is merely only just this An opinion:)

  3. Because someone told you so ???? some of you disappoint me to the fullest it’s your cat if you want to spay an neuter your cat then do so ,if you don’t YOUR NOT BAD YOUR BEING TOLD YOU ARE , sorry but the circle of life exist and GOD MADE IT THAT Way ,he didn’t make animals to stop them from producing Nor US !!! SO SOME OF YOU ON THIS PAGE ,MIGHT AS WELL PUT A TIN FOIL HAT ON !! As for whoever wrote this article you should be ashamed ,your first sentence disgusted me , I knew who you were the min I read your little spayed and neuter comment!! Stop listening to these types of people that aren’t telling you the right way , do you want your child to have a cat for their child ?!? Comment all animals should be spayed and neutered is bogus !! Then the whole pregnant sorry comment as if life is bad !!! news flash :GOD MADE LIFE and DEATH ,HOW BOUGHT TRUST GOD INSTEAD OF LISTENING TO PEOPLE THAT TRY TO PLAY GOD AND AREN’T !! Control control down to your animals !!! I suggest When you write an article about birthing animals you state facts , and opinions on how awful it is for your animal to be pregnant, and how all should spay and neuter their animals not yours !!

  4. Thank you for all the helpful information. Our queen is due with her first litter in about 2weeks, and we are so excited!!!
    We mated our cat, Miss Kitty, with a full blooded Linx cat. She is an indoor cat and two years old. We are so excited and plan on keeping at least two or three of her kittens. We also plan on allowing her to have a few more litters by the same father.
    We already have several good, loving and responsible cat loving families wanting to adopt her kittens. I’m pretty sure some of all of them will be Bob Tailed cats (half Kind and half Tabby).
    May God bless each and everyone of you for developing and providing this web site. The information within your site has truly been very helpful. Keep up the good work!!!

    Sincerely, Flowerchild

    1. Aww my cat is also pregnant and due in the next 2-3 weeks! Exciting isn’t it! She’s had a scan done at the vets and they said she is carrying 6 kittens! X

      1. I actually watched my cat give birth. It was crazy she ate the placenta and every thing. she had 4 kittens 2 were twins and the other 2 were also twins and they were ALL girls the vet said that was very rare. We recently have let the male cat around her and since she doesn’t have her kittens anymore, shes been in heat. We think she might be pregnant again, we aren’t sure yet but Lately her stomach has gotten tougher, she hasn’t been eating a lot, and she has been mating with our male cat. Her kittens have been gone for a few weeks and he’s been humping her which we have tried to avoid but i think this was a unavoidable issue. At this point we only know of one time where he for sure got a hold of her. i’m thinking if she is pregnant she might be 3-4 weeks pregnant. i’ve been doing research but i think the only thing we can do is wait and see.

    1. That depends on your relationship with the cat, and the cats personality/bond with you. I rescued a stray one week before she delivered 7 kittens. #5 was not breathing, or moving, nor did mom make Any attempt to remove the sac or clean her. She instead went to drink some water and potty instead. So after 3 mins I grabbed baby and removed the sac, suctioned/cleared air ways, and gave a few rescue breaths/cpr. And sure enough Baby came back and is now 11 weeks and thriving just like the other 6. :-)

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  6. Never ever under any circumstances intervene with natural birth process between mom and kittens unless there is a need for you to intervene. Mom’s instincts are best and if you get in the middle of it you could potentially cause mom to reject her kittens and force you to have to be responsible for its survival. It is very rare that you need to step in and touch the kittens at all. Even if it’s her first litter, she will do what mother nature instincts her to do. Have you watched them give birth? It’s beautiful to see how they know exactly what to do. Ideally, due to how new they are, so long as she is doing her job as a new mom, there should be no touching of the kittens at all for a few days. I wait at least 24 hours and just for a second to get a weight each day and make sure they are gaining weight accordingly. You can step in only if you notice danger.

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  9. In my research I found 68-72 days for the length of pregnancy. Our female gave birth to 5 kittens exactly 70 days after the neighborhood tom said “hi”. It is usually impossible to say for sure when a cat conceived, hence the range. Thankfully, we witnessed the mating… So we got lucky.

  10. Please let your readers know cats can get pregnant when they are nursing even very young kittens. More importantly SPAY AND NEUTER YOUR CATS!!!!

      1. ???

        Why would you say that?

        YES EVERYONE SHOULD SPAY AND NEUTER THEIR PETS.

        It’s better for them and better for the planet.

    1. Oh wow.. I took in a male from my neighbor during quarentine, couldn’t get him nuetered as all the places was closed.. he got both my girls, they are probably going to give birth in about a week, I’m glad I seen this, o am planning on nuetering him next week but wasn’t in a rush cause I thought I’d at least have a few months before I have anymore problems

    2. So important to share this information… we were feeding a stray cat that showed up in our yard, trying to gain her trust. After approximately a month she showed up on the back porch with four kittens. Took the family to the vet and discovered mom was only 7 month or so old, her babies were about 18 days old. 8 and 1/2 weeks later, much to our complete surprise, she gave birth to a second litter! Please please be part of the solution…. neuter/spay your fur babies!

  11. please amend your article to add this: watch your mama kitty while she births her kittens. my mama cat yanked on her kittens’ umbilicals and pulled their intestines completely out of their bellies, killing three of the four she birthed., because she didnt understand what she was seeing or doing. stay alert, cup your hand behind her birth canal to catch the babies as they come out, and have sterile scissors handy to cut the umbilical cords midway between belly and placenta. you may have to tear open the amniotic sac by hand to get them breathing. mama might pace around and pant, not understanding what’s happening to her. gently get her to lie down in one place so she doesnt just drop the kittens out the back end and drag them around by their umbilicus, behind her! I RECOMMEND A VERY BIG BOX SHE CAN TURN AROUND IN, WITH A FOLDED TOWEL FOR BEDDING. get each new kitten wiped down with a warm wet washcloth as soon as the amniotic sac is pulled free, kitten is breathing or crying, and then the cord tied with dental floss and cut short enough that moms teeth cant pull on it. keep mom from stepping on the kittens already out while more are still coming. when theyre all born, put each kitten on a nipple and give mom food and milk and water where she can eat it while lying down nursing the new babies.

    1. I disagree! Just let nature run it’s course! If the mother is meant to be a good mom, let HER be the mom. She will figure out what to do. And if you let her take care of them herself, she’ Be an even better mother to the next batch.

    2. This is great advice that I needed to know. Thank you for taking the time to care enough to share your experience with others. May God bless you for caring.

  12. Pingback: How Long Are Cats Pregnant? The 5 Stages of Cat Pregnancy – Info Body

  13. Pingback: How Long Are Cats Pregnant? The 5 Stages of Cat Pregnancy | PetTraining.org

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  15. Trina Nichols Graudons

    My cat gave birth and July 18 and I believe she’s pregnant again. Is it possible I can abort the kittens through the veterinarian?

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  20. I’m curious ….. since our cat is an outdoor cat and it was hard to tell if she was intaked, as it looked and felt like she had been. She was dropped off at our lane way and made her way into the house. Almost like it was meant to be.
    Anyway, just in the last two weeks her bellie was getting larger….then I felt some heads.
    My question is … is there a way to tell how far along they are?
    Would appreciate knowing.

    Thank you,

    Cathey Delahunt

    1. Hi there,
      Please get this cat to the vet for a proper exam. Here is some additional insight on cat pregnancy:
      https://www.catster.com/cat-health-care/how-to-care-for-a-pregnant-cat

  21. Arden Townsend

    the last sentence in stage one answers that question: “cat pregnancy ranges from 58 to 72 days.”

  22. The simple answer to”How long are cats pregnant for” is two months, or nine weeks. But that’s just an estimate. Depending on what source you consult, cat pregnancy ranges from 58 to 72 days. THIS IS COPIED FROM THIS ARTICLE. …

    1. The simple answer to”How long are cats pregnant for” is two months, or nine weeks. But that’s just an estimate. Depending on what source you consult, cat pregnancy ranges from 58 to 72 days. This was copied from this article.

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