Assuming you know about the, um, “birds and the bees”, there are two major indicators that a cat will get pregnant and these are 1) if your female kitty is not spayed and 2) if your unspayed kitty is around unneutered male cats (either in the home or outdoors). When it comes to an unspayed cat around unneutered cats the question of pregnancy is not an “if” but a “when”.
An unspayed cat can get pregnant as early as four months of age, when she is still basically a kitten herself. The gestation period is around 63-65 days so your kitty could be a mama by the time she is just six months of age. If she remains unspayed she can come back “in season” when the kittens are weaned (about eight weeks) and within another eight weeks produce another litter! Obviously, there is good reason cats are famous for their ability to procreate.
The most noticeable sign that your kitty is pregnant is that the little nipples on her belly will change shape and turn a deep pink color. This is called “pinking” and happens around two to three weeks into a pregnancy. Other than this, you may be left guessing but other signs that will become noticeable as a kitty pregnancy progresses include, of course, a swelling tummy, increased appetite, and nesting behavior.
If there is a stray kitty in your neighborhood that is perhaps feral or you can not get access to, you really can only rely on visual signs, which would be a distended belly and noticeable nipples. If you can call an area feral cat rescue group they can trap and spay the kitty, returning her back to her home colony once she’s recovered.
If the stray kitty of concern is accustomed to people, consider bringing her home to nurse her kittens until they are weaned and can be adopted out through a local shelter. If this is not an option, call your local rescue to ask if they have a foster program where the same will happen. The added bonus in this is that mama will get spayed and be given a chance to find her forever home.
If your little lady isn’t quite as dainty as she once was, and has been spayed, then you have your answer. If you are not seeing engorged, brightly colored nipples after a couple of weeks then you also have your answer. If your kitty has a big belly she is likely overweight or may have some other kind of medical issue so it’s important to take a quick survey with your vet. Obesity is a serious health condition and treating it can be tricky. Your vet can help you form a proactive nutrition, feeding, and exercise plan to get your kitty on the right track.
This helpful body condition chart, courtesy of the World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) , provides some visual guidelines as to what are considered healthy versus unhealthy kitty body weights/shapes.
This is a real question! It can be very hard to tell the difference with some long-haired cats whose breeds are known for larger body size and/or thick coats such as Maine Coons and Norwegian Forest Cats. And it doesn’t have an easy answer other than honesty judging you cat against tools such as the above chart. If you think your big-boned or fantastically fluffy cat’s weight could be an issue, ask your vet. Because you likely do regular health checkups, and obesity isn’t something that happens all of the sudden, your vet can tell you if you need to make changes now to save yourself and your kitty from future hardships.
Examine her diet
If you have a kitty who needs to shed some extra weight, an examination of her food, food intake, and eating habits can go a long way in getting the process started. It is best to consult with your vet before undertaking any changes as kitties’ systems weren’t built to endure “dieting”, therefore sudden changes to food type and amount (such as withholding food) can actually be dangerous, even deadly, to your cat.
Focused playtime not only encourages bonding between you and your cat, it’s also a great way to get some good exercise in. This does not mean waking them up from sleep to play. It is normal for cats to sleep 16-20 hours a day so it’s likely your sleepy cat is just being a cat–not a lazy cat. Another idea is to walk your cat. While it may seem daunting it is possible for some cats and can be both mentally and physically stimulating for her, not mention absolutely entertaining for you.
Enrich her environment
Take note of the toys and types of play she enjoys and stock up on toys she can play with or activities she can do on her own or with kitty pals. These include cat trees which require jumping and encourage scratching, perhaps building an outdoor catio, or even toys with timers or motion sensors to attract her attention and keep her moving. A good tip for all these fun things is to put them away when they won’t be used so when they come back out they are a surprise to her vs. toys that sit in the same place so long she sees them as mere objects, not catnip-filled, laser-light emitting, excitingly vibrating, items of interest that are also deserving her hard-earned attentions.