Pregnant Cat Nipples vs Normal: What Do They Look Like?

Written by

Amy Sawy

Veterinarian. DVM


Joseph M. Plummer

Veterinarian, DVM, MVZ



Your cat’s showing signs of carrying kittens inside her? There are several ways to tell; one of which is by observing her nipples.

Since pregnancy and the laboring process have the most significant impact on the mammary system, it’s clear to see some changes in your cat’s nipples.

In this article, we’ll show you how to differentiate the pregnant cat’s nipples vs normal so that you can give a more precise diagnosis of her condition as well as give her the suitable care that she needs.

Summary of Normal Cat Nipples Vs Pregnant


Normal nipples Nipples in early pregnancy Nipples in late pregnancy Nipples after birth
Size tiny swollen/bigger (about 2-3 times) much bigger bigger and plump
Color skin-toned pinking up darker pink darker pink
Discharge none none a small amount of clear/milky fluid a large amount of milk
Surrounded Area covered by layers of fur hairless skin patching enlarging skin patch continues to enlarge spread and distend

Overview of Cat Nipples When Not Pregnant


Nipples are the most visible part of a feline’s mammary system (and other mammals too). While both male and female cats have nipples, those of female’s are truly functional (especially when they get pregnant and raise kittens after birth).

Cats usually have three to four pairs of nipples, each located symmetrical along their tummy.

However, if you’ve checked and see that your cat has fewer or more nipples in total, worry not. Each feline is unique and the fact that some have fewer or more (like four or ten) or even an odd number of nipples (five or seven) are acceptable.

Wondering what cats’ nipples when not pregnant look like?

  • They’re like tiny swarts hiding under the fur (for male cats, they appear to be a little smaller and firmer). You hardly see them but you can feel them by gently moving your hand around their belly.

Since nipples are connected to the mammary gland, you’ll see milk coming out from them when your cat’s feeding her kittens.

This is the main dissimilarity between regular cat nipples vs pregnant cat nipples when it comes to their function.

But if a non-pregnant cat discharges milk or any abnormal liquid, that may be a sign of health problems. It’s when you pay more attention to her and ask your vet for advice.

Changes in Cat Nipples When Pregnant


Pregnancy is one of the main causes of changes in cats’ nipples (like humans). It’s a natural course that allows the cat mother to nurture her babies.

You’ll soonly see how this mammary part alters in different stages of her pregnancy and after birth, from their size to colors to how they function.

1. Cat nipples in early pregnancy


If you’re curious about what cat nipples look like in early pregnancy, wait till she reaches the second week to see clear changes.

In particular, the nipples will experience the “pinking-up” stage – when they’re no longer skin-toned yet become much darker in pink through time.

Ever happened to see all of their nipples before? Now’s an ideal time because not only do they swell (about 2 to 3 times compared to normal size) but the hairless skin patch around them also enlarges.

Please notice that there’ll be no lactation happening during this time. Thus, if your 3-week pregnant cat’s nipples start to discharge any fluid, consult your vet to ensure that there’s no severe problem.

2. Nipples in late pregnancy


At this pregnant cat nipples stage, they grow larger and deepen in color in late pregnancy. Plus, the skin patch surrounding it also develops, making the whole nipple area more visible than ever before.

When she reaches the last 10 to 14 days, the discharge tends to appear (with the amount and color varies in cats). It informs that the cat’s mammary system is at its perfection, ready to nurse the babies by the time they come out.

3. Nipples after giving birth


A large amount of milk to feed the babies demands a bigger nipple area. During the nursing time, the cat’s nipples are still swollen and in deep color.

Since the kittens can not eat anything but their mother’s milk for the first several weeks, make sure you give your cat a nutritious diet to promote healthy development for her babies.

After four to six weeks, the weaning process begins – the kitten will gradually consume less milk and become less dependent on their mother.  It’s also when the cat mother’s nipples take back their normal form and color.

However, the long pregnancy and feeding milk period make some cats hardly shrink their nipples back. So you might see they’re still a bit saggy.

Frequently Asked Questions


Can a cat have nipples and not be pregnant?

All cats have nipples, whether they’re pregnant or not. Male cat nipples are still existing though they mean nothing critical at all.

There’ll be significant differences between cats’ nipples before and during pregnancy. Carrying baby kittens inside is when the cat mother’s nipples function the best.

In case you see your female feline have her nipples swollen or changing colors but she’s not pregnant, contact your vet to know what’s going on with her health.

How can I tell if my cat is pregnant?

Many cat owners notice their pet getting bigger than before and wonder, how to tell if my cat is pregnant. Well, there’re some signs of a pregnant cat that you might easily realize:

  • Increase in size and weight (about 2 to 4 pounds)
  • Changes in the pregnant cat nipples vs non pregnant (they are more visible for becoming larger and darkening in color)
  • Vomiting (a sign of “morning sickness”)
  • Abdomen swelling (starts to be more visible when she reaches halfway of the pregnant period)
  • Appetite changing (you’ll see an increased demand on food during her gestation, except for the early pregnancy)

Besides these physical changes, the cat mother still shows some abnormal signs in her temperament and behavior, such as sleeping more, demanding more attention from you, and looking around for a nesting place.


Now you’ve learned all about the changes in pregnant cat nipples vs normal. Understanding more about this mammary gland is key to successful delivery and a healthy litter of newborn kittens.

However, if your cat’s not pregnant but her nipples still show signs of what a nursing cat’s nipples look like or any other abnormal changes, it’s a health alarm. Call the vet immediately to get to know exactly about her condition as well as approach timely suitable treatments.

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