How long are cats pregnant?

Cat pregnancy is a rather troublesome affair. Once it's over, there'll be a bunch of little kitties to look after. How long do cats stay pregnant, though, and how can you tell how far along a cat's pregnancy is?

You need to look after your cat even more carefully when she's pregnant.
You need to look after your cat even more carefully when she's pregnant.  © IMAGO / agefotostock

Does your kitty have a little bump? Do cats even get little bumps? Before those twenty kittens leap into your life (well, hopefully not twenty), you're going to have a difficult few months. Cat pregnancy may not last long, but it's a challenge!

In this cat guide, TAG24 takes you through the general length of a cat pregnancy. We answer your questions on how long cats stay pregnant, and what to look for throughout the process.

How long do cats stay pregnant?

A cat's gestation period is significantly shorter than a human's, at a mere 63–65 days in length on average. For comparison, that's less than a quarter of the time it takes for a human to go from conception to birth, making it quite extraordinarily short.

Interestingly, your cat will not grow just one baby in this time. The average litter contains around three kittens, and sometimes can even go as high as ten. Cats who are pregnant for the first time, though, will have fewer kittens than cats who have been pregnant previously.

How long are cats pregnant in months?

Cats are generally pregnant for a mere two months, compared to the relatively lengthy nine months of a human pregnancy.

How long are cats pregnant in weeks?

In terms of weeks, a 63-day pregnancy cycle means that a cat will be pregnant generally between 9 and 10 weeks. Again, that's significantly less than the 40 average weeks that a human will stay pregnant.

How to tell how far along your cat is

Cats are not like humans, but that doesn't mean that their pregnancy symptoms are entirely invisible. They have multiple baby felines growing inside them, after all, so clearly there are going to be a few changes to their body and behavior.

Can you use these symptoms to determine how far along they are, though? Yes, you can! Here's how...

  • Take a look at their nipples, as these will change color and become swollen after only about two weeks of pregnancy.
  • Cats won't go into heat when they are pregnant, just as human women won't have their period during pregnancy.
  • Yes, cat's stomachs do get larger - but not as pronounced as a human's.
  • Cats can actually get a feline version of morning sickness earlier on in their pregnancy cycle (nausea, lack of appetite, vomiting).
  • Your cat will start gaining weight around the half-way point, and not just around the belly.
  • If your cat starts licking her genitals and making weird noises, it could be going into labor.

This is important: The most reliable way to determine how a cat's pregnancy is going is simply to take them to a veterinarian and have them checked out. They will be able to perform a few tests and give you some more definitive answers.

Cats aren't pregnant for as long as humans, despite growing multiple babies.
Cats aren't pregnant for as long as humans, despite growing multiple babies.  © IMAGO / YAY Images

How long does it take for cats to give birth?

Once a pregnant female cat goes into labor, she will start behaving very anxiously. Now, don't worry about bringing your cat to the vet at this stage, as it won't help. It's actually better to keep her calm, in a friendly and known environment, and simply keep a sharp eye on her.

Your cat's first baby will be born around an hour after the onset of labor, and then each following child will come out every 15–20 minutes, until the entire litter has been born.

Don't worry too much: Your cat will be fine, and will also clean the babies herself. Yes, it will be disgusting and, yes, you should take her to the veterinarian in the following days to get her checked out, but try to stay chill. If you can.

Cat gestation can be a difficult process!

If you've ever thought humans can get irritable during pregnancy, you just wait 'til you meet a pregnant cat! These little bundles of joy turn into pouches of loathing as they get bigger. Once they have given birth, they'll be more protective than an emperor penguin.

Give your kitty some space and time while she is pregnant, refraining from those big and sometimes unwelcomed cuddles you usually force upon her. Remember that even if your cat is a little irritable, there are babies on the way, and that's something to get excited about!

Cover photo: IMAGO / agefotostock

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