Pregnancy can be one of the most joyful, stressful, and disruptive times of a person’s life. In all the excitement, it might take you a little while to notice your cat acting strangely. Once you do, you might wonder, can a cat tell when you’re pregnant?
While cats probably don’t recognize the specific condition of pregnancy, they may be able to tell that there’s something different about you. Some cats, like the mellow kitty I owned before my daughter was born, take these changes in stride and simply enjoy snuggling in all the comfy new baby gear. Other cats may display obvious behavior changes.
In this article, you’ll learn some specifics about how cats may be able to tell you’re pregnant and ways to help prepare them for the new baby.
Oh, Baby! How Cats Can (Sort of) Tell You’re Pregnant
Even if they don’t understand you’re pregnant, here are a few ways your cat might be able to tell that there’s something different about you.
You Smell Different
During pregnancy, your body experiences an increase in multiple hormones, including progesterone and estrogen. These hormones are responsible for many side effects of pregnancy, like morning sickness, as well as milk production and other necessary preparations for the baby’s birth. It’s also possible that they could cause your scent to change.
Doctors and scientists suspect that cats, with a sense of smell much more sensitive than humans, might be able to smell the difference when you’re pregnant. Again, they won’t necessarily connect the dots between your new odor and your pregnancy, but they’ll likely detect the changes.
You Sound Different
In addition to a superior sense of smell, cats can hear much better than humans. If your cat likes to snuggle against your pregnant belly, there’s a good chance it can hear a heartbeat or other noises coming from inside, especially in the final trimester. Although they might not understand precisely what they’re hearing, it’s another change that gives them a clue that something’s different about you.
You Act Different
As we mentioned, pregnancy is a major life change, with new routines, behaviors, and baby gear entering the picture almost from the beginning. You might be suffering from morning sickness, interviewing babysitters, taking time off from work, or assembling cribs during the months leading up to the baby’s birth.
All these changes and disruptions can be highly stressful for your cat, especially if they’re already prone to anxiety or sensitive to differences in daily routine. Even if your cat can’t tell specifically that you’re pregnant, they’ll notice that their life doesn’t unfold exactly as it used to. If so, you’ll probably also see changes in the cat’s behavior.
What Behavior Changes Will You See in Your Cat When You’re Pregnant?
Depending on your cat’s personality, you may not notice any behavior changes during your pregnancy. My cat was more interested in napping on the pregnancy body pillow than anything else about the situation. However, there are a few common behaviors that you might notice in your kitty during your pregnancy.
Some cats get more affectionate or cuddly during pregnancy. Others could become irritable and even aggressive as they cope with all the changes. In between, you’ll find cats that become watchful or protective of you.
Your cat could also show signs of stress and anxiety, such as peeing outside the litterbox, hiding, and overgrooming.
How to Help Your Cat Adjust to Pregnancy and Prepare for the Baby
If your cat displays unwanted behavior changes during pregnancy, here are a few tips to help them adjust and prepare for the new baby.
- Do your best to keep your cat’s daily routine as normal as possible during pregnancy. You can serve meals at the same time and try to spend time with your cat playing or petting. If your cat seems extra clingy or anxious, you may need to increase the attention you give to help soothe them.
- If your cat shows more extreme and unwelcome signs of anxiety, like aggression or peeing outside the litter box, talk to your vet. They may suggest anti-anxiety medication to help your cat cope with your pregnancy changes.
- Allow your cat as much time to sniff and explore all the new baby gear as possible to gain familiarity with it. This could help decrease their stress once the baby arrives and you start using the stroller and changing table.
- Play baby noises, especially crying, for your cat before the infant arrives home. I can tell you from experience that nothing prepares you for the sheer volume of sound that a crying newborn produces, and your cat’s ears are even more sensitive than yours! Try to prepare your kitty ahead of time to decrease its stress levels.
- If you plan to keep your cat out of the baby’s room, close the door early enough for your cat’s curiosity about the forbidden space to decrease. Once the baby is born, bring home a blanket or something else with their scent so your cat can get used to the smell of their new family member.
In recent years, younger generations, like millennials, have chosen to delay having human children, often adopting pets first. Because of that, many pregnancies will occur in houses where cats are already present. These cats may not know exactly what’s happening, but they will likely notice some of the life changes associated with pregnancy. Talk to your vet if you’re concerned about your cat’s behavior while you’re pregnant, especially if they show physical signs like vomiting, loss of appetite, or peeing outside the litter box.
Featured Image Credit: Nesolenaya Alexandra, Shutterstock
About the author
Cat mom to Ivy – a feisty little rescue kitten that is her one and only child. For now! Throughout her life, she has been introduced to the special love that can be found in the bond with a cat. Having owned multiple felines, she is more than certain that their love is unmatched, unconditional and unlike any other. With a passion to educate the public about everything, there is to know about felines, their behavior, and their unique personalities, Crystal is devoted to making sure that all cats and their owners know the importance of conscious living – and loving!