Skip to content Skip to sidebar Skip to footer

Is My Cat Pregnant Or Just Fat?

Feline obesity is a common problem for our feline friends. It is said that an astonishing 59% of cats in the U.S are classified as overweight or obese.

This is why it is so important as owners that we monitor our cat’s food intake carefully and have a thorough understanding of what is a normal weight for our kitty so you can notice any significant changes.

It is usually very easy for cats to put on weight especially if they have free food available to them at all times. Sometimes they just don’t know when to stop.

It is not always the case that an increase in weight is down to overeating. What about if your cat becomes pregnant? How would you know the difference? These are very valid questions and it is important you are aware of the difference between an overweight cat and one that has piled on the pounds due to pregnancy.

So, is my cat pregnant or just fat? Pregnant cats distribute their excess weight differently than overweight cats. A pregnant cat shows weight gain around the midsection with a slightly round, bulging tummy. Cats that have just gained weight will display it all over their bodies, including their neck and legs.

As you can see, there is a clear difference between the two scenarios. In the initial stages, it may be more difficult to spot the difference; however, as time passes you will be able to notice where the increase in weight occurs which should give you a much clearer idea of the cause for the weight gain.

How Can You Tell if Your Cat is Pregnant?

There are a few significant tell-tale signs when a cat is pregnant that should be relatively easy to spot.

Most owners will look for weight gain as a clear indication, but this isn’t a foolproof way of determining whether in fact your cat is pregnant or not. Your cat will display other symptoms in addition to weight gain that can help clarify.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the key indicators your cat may be pregnant, in addition to weight gain around the middle:

  • Changes in appearance
  • Changes in behavior
  • Changes in eating habits

Let’s break that down in more detail.

Changes in Appearance

Here is how your cat’s appearance may clue you in to a possible pregnancy:

Weight Gain

One of the very first signs of pregnancy is gradual weight gain. The tummy will start to swell and your kitty may not be overly happy about you touching it. Mamma cat will usually increase their weight between 2.2 to 4.4 pounds during pregnancy depending on how many kittens they are carrying.

Please note that abdominal swelling alone does not always equal pregnancy and could be a sign of illness. A trip to the vets will easily clear any confusion for complete peace of mind.


When a cat reaches approximately 15-18 days into a pregnancy you will be able to notice some significant changes in their nipple area. This change in appearance is known as ‘pinking up’ and you will be able to clearly see the nipples have become red and enlarged. This is a very good indicator your cat may be pregnant.

Again, it is always a good idea to visit your vet for a check-up to confirm that your cat is actually pregnant!

Changes in Behavior

In addition to weight gain and nipple changes, you may also notice changes in your cat’s behavior.

Maternal Behavior

In a similar way to when a female cat is in heat, you will notice some changes in their mood and behavior. Pregnant females tend to act much more maternal which essentially prepares them for motherhood.

You may also find that your cat seeks much more attention and fuss from you. It is common for pregnant females to become more vocal with the humans in their life and much more affectionate.


Just like many pregnant women, it’s common for pregnant cats to experience a sort of morning sickness.

It is quite possible that they will experience sickness throughout certain stages of the pregnancy. However, if they are unwell and vomiting frequently or for a prolonged length of the pregnancy then it is advisable to visit your vets for a check-up.


As the length of pregnancy increases, you will notice some reduction in your cat’s level of activity. She will likely begin to sleep much more during the daytime and not move around quite so much.

With some cats, this can happen quite early on in pregnancy and will be particularly noticeable if you have a cat that spends lots of time outside and is generally full of get up and go.

Changes in Eating Habits

As you may guess, your cat’s appetite will likely be affected by any pregnancy:

Increased Appetite

It is often that case that a female cat’s appetite will increase quite significantly early on in pregnancy. This is certainly the case as the pregnancy progresses. You will notice your cat clears the plate more often than not and will likely be begging you for more food.

This is completely normal and is why your cat will put on weight throughout the pregnancy.

This is a very good indicator, along with other symptoms that you have a pregnant kitty on your hands. It is, however, fair to note that an increased appetite could be the result of worms or illness so it is always best to check this out with your vet if you are unsure.

These are some of the best signs that suggest your cat is likely pregnant. However, we will repeat this to be clear: the only way to know for sure that your cat is pregnant is by visiting your vet. If you have an inkling that your cat may be pregnant it’s a good idea to just get a proper check-up.

Can You Use a Pregnancy Test on a Cat?

No, human pregnancy tests do not work for cats. They have been designed for humans specifically and therefore are species-specific.

It would also be very difficult to get your cat to pee on the stick in order to get a result, but of course, even if you could, the test wouldn’t work.

Interestingly, researchers are in the process of designing an ‘at home’ cat pregnancy test kit that works in a very similar way to a human pregnancy test kit by collecting a sample of urine. As it stands, this is a long way off from entering the market but could be a great solution in years to come.

Cat pregnancy testing is possible. However, it is not such a straight forward process as it is for humans and will require a trip to the vet to be carried out.

For your vet, the process of testing is pretty simple and one they will have carried out on many occasions. The test takes about 30 minutes so you can expect to get the results fairly quickly.

The most common type of pregnancy test for cats is a blood test that checks to see if the hormone called ‘Relaxin’ resides in your cat’s blood. This aptly named hormone relaxes your cat’s cervix so it is ready to give birth to kittens. You can be sure that if this hormone is present in your cat’s system they are pregnant.

How Can I Tell if My Cat is Fat?

Sometimes owners believe their cat is pregnant only to be completely disappointed after having their vet carry out a test (or relieved in some cases). Weight gain is usually the reason why we may think our female cat has become pregnant and for novice owners, this can be an easy mistake to make.

Overweight kitties will gain weight all over their bodies, even on their necks and legs. If your cat seems bigger all around, that’s a sign your cat may have simply gained weight. In the case of pregnancy, the extra weight is usually concentrated on a few specific areas such as the stomach rather than the body as a whole.

There are four main areas where you can best see that your cat is overweight:

1. Ribs: By running your hands along your cat’s side you should be able to easily feel their ribs underneath a covering of fat. If you cannot feel the ribs at all then it is likely your cat is fat or in some cases obese.

2. Abdomen: You can tell a lot about weight by looking at your cat from the side. If you notice a layer of low hanging fat from a side view then there is a possibility your cat could be carrying a few extra pounds.

3. Spine: If you can’t feel the bones of the spine when running your hand across your cats back there could be cause for concern. A cat that is at an ideal weight will have a small covering of fat over the spinal area, which is slight enough for you to still feel the bone.

4. Waist: Looking at your cat from above can tell you a lot about their weight. You should be able to clearly see their waist and space between their ribs and hips. If this is not the case then it is possible your cat may be overweight or obese.

Why is My Cat Gaining Weight?

Cats can gain weight for a variety of reasons. Here are some of the main reasons why your cat may be putting on weight:

  • Overeating: Your cat eats too much or cannot regulate its eating. This is a problem for some cats who have constant access to large feeders.
  • Overfeeding: You may feed your cat too much, too often, or too many treats. Ask a vet for how much food your pet needs.
  • Age: Cats typically become less active and have less energy with time. They burn fewer calories and therefore won’t need quite as much food as they did when they were, say, an active kitten.
  • Breed: Some cats are more prone to obesity than others (such as mixed breeds)
  • Gender: Female cats are more likely to become overweight than male cats.
  • Medical Problems: Although not common, certain illnesses can decrease activity levels; the same food intake with lower activity means these cats eat extra calories and could gain weight.
  • Lack of Exercise: Particularly a problem with indoor cats, if your cat isn’t exercising, they’re not burning calories, so it will be more likely that they gain weight.

Up Next: At What Age Do Cats Stop Having Kittens?