When taking care of your feline friend, you want it to be in the best shape possible. So, when there is a sudden change in our pet’s body, you may wonder what the cause is.
Telling the cause of change in your feline’s body is challenging, as there are a few factors you must consider. Among these factors are pregnancy and weight gain, which both make your feline friend fat.
So, is your cat pregnant or just gaining weight? This article will help you recognize the differences between a pregnant cat vs fat cat.
Table of Contents
How to Tell if a Cat is Pregnant or Fat
If you notice that your feline friend is becoming more fluffy than usual, your first instinct is to cut back on treats and cat food. But if you have a female cat, there is always a possibility that it is having kittens.
Signs of a Pregnant Cat
1. The cat is in heat
Has your feline friend been in heat a few weeks before it showed physical changes? If yes, there is an excellent chance that a cat pregnancy is happening.
Felines who are in heat become extra affectionate and flirtatious. You may find your pet rolling and rubbing itself on the floor.
In addition to its flirtatious behavior, a cat that is in heat vocalizes more than usual. Signs of heat usually last for 2 to 19 days and repeat after 7 to 21 days.
If your pet does not show signs of being in heat 2 to 3 weeks after it initially became in heat, you should visit a vet to check if it is indeed pregnant.
2. The nipples change
A cat’s nipples popping out can be a sign of pregnancy or being in heat. However, an in heat cat’s nipples will return to their normal size once estrogen levels decrease.
Meanwhile, a pregnant cat’s nipples grow larger until it is ready to deliver its kittens. If you compare pregnant cat nipples vs. non-pregnant, the pregnant cat’s nipples are pinker and secrete milk at around 35 days of pregnancy.
So, paying attention to the differences between normal cat nipples vs pregnant ones helps you with the confusion.
3. Change in eating habits
A pregnant feline may feel stomach sickness, throw up, and refuse to eat. You may mistake these signs for a gut health issue.
However, stomach issues and refusal to eat can also signify pregnancy. If your feline friend refuses to eat for more than three days, having it checked by a vet is crucial.
This way, you can confirm if your pet is sick or pregnant.
Still, it is worth noting that not all cats are the same. Some pregnant felines may have a larger appetite than usual.
So, the best thing to do when recognizing a pregnant feline is to observe its eating habits.
4. Physical changes
Cats go through various changes throughout their pregnancy. These changes involve the physical aspect, which is the easiest thing a caretaker can observe.
The shape of a pregnant cat’s body is different from a fat one. As the pregnant feline’s stomach grows, it resembles the belly of a donkey, which cat owners call the burro shape.
The physical change in a pregnant feline also only applies to its belly, apart from the nipples. Meaning the added weight is not distributed equally throughout the body.
Signs of a Fat Cat
1. Abdominal changes
You might not quickly notice the difference when you look at the belly of a pregnant cat vs. a fat cat. Both show abdominal enlargement, so you may wonder, “is my cat fat or pregnant?”
A pregnant cat’s belly feels like a firm mass. On the other hand, a fat kitten’s belly will have a layer of fat hanging low on it.
Cats typically have a hanging layer of fat and skin on their stomachs called a primordial pouch. But when this belly pouch suddenly looks more prominent than usual, it could indicate that your pet is gaining weight.
2. Bones covered in fat
Run your hands at the back of your pet. You should be able to feel your feline’s spine under the skin and a thin layer of fat without putting pressure on touching it.
If you cannot feel your pet’s spine, there may be too much fat covering it.
You may also try touching your pet’s ribs. A healthy feline should only have a small amount of fat covering its ribs.
An indication that your feline is getting fatter is when you cannot feel the ribs quickly.
3. Unwillingness to move around
Overweight cats find it challenging to move around, as their weight tires them easily. If your feline friend is gaining more we
ight than what is healthy, it will prefer sitting and lying down instead of bonding and playing with you.
4. A change in shape
As mentioned, a pregnant cat’s belly will grow more significantly than the other parts of its body. If you look at the images of pregnant cats, you will notice that their abdomens are bulging while their other body parts stay at their normal size.
But when your feline friend is gaining weight, the fat they gain is distributed equally throughout their body.
Take a look at your cat from above. If its body appears rectangular from your view, it is a sign of obesity.
Needless to say, the major difference between a fat cat and a pregnant cat is the shape and fat distribution throughout their bodies. This difference is easily noticeable if you look at pictures of a pregnant and fat cat.
Caring for a Pregnant Cat
If you suspect that your feline friend is pregnant, the first thing you need to do is to bring it to a veterinarian. This way, a professional can confirm the pregnancy and inform you of everything you need to know throughout the pregnant cat’s stages until it gives birth.
Pregnant felines need more nutrition, as it is eating more than one cat. So, the vet may switch its cat food to one that is specially formulated for pregnant cats.
Once you get the right cat food, you need to feed your feline friend more than its usual amount of serving. You also need to set up water bowls around your home, especially in areas your pet can easily access.
Keeping your pet active throughout the pregnancy is also important. Giving it light yet frequent activities will keep its body fit, thus making giving birth easier.
If possible, bringing a pregnant cat week by week to the vet is ideal once it is near the final stages of pregnancy.
Tips to Maintain a Healthy Cat Weight
1. Feed your pet healthy foods
Pay attention to your cat’s figure. If you notice it is gaining weight, you must change its diet to a healthier one. Switch to a more nutritious and fulfilling cat food so your feline friend will not crave food frequently.
If you are feeding your pet homemade food, look for a recipe to help you manage its fat intake.
2. Keep it active
Like humans, the key to keeping your cat fit is to keep it active. Instead of allowing it to lay around all day, give your pet interactive toys to play with.
You can even point a laser at walls and let your pet chase it.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I know if my kitten is pregnant?
Cats can get pregnant as early as four months old. Like pregnant humans, a pregnant kitten will show morning sickness during the early stages of its pregnancy.
A 1 month-pregnant cat’s belly looks similar to the abdomen of an overfed cat. However, the noticeable difference is that a pregnant feline has swollen and pink nipples.
Is a cat still fat after giving birth?
A pregnant cat will retain some of the fat gained during pregnancy after giving birth. For this reason, you may notice that your feline friend has 20 percent more weight than its normal weight before getting pregnant.
Apart from its weight, the nutritional needs of a pregnant cat will increase dramatically after giving birth.
What can be mistaken for pregnancy in cats?
Some feline illnesses show symptoms that are similar to pregnancy. These illnesses include:
- Mastitis or the inflammation of the mammary gland (swollen nipples).
- Pyometra, or the infection of a cat’s uterus
- Organ and abdominal enlargement due to fluid retention
Pregnant and fat cats look uncannily similar, especially during the first stages of pregnancy. For this reason, knowing how to differentiate a pregnant cat vs fat cat is vital.
Apart from the pregnancy symptoms mentioned above, a pregnant cat will also show nesting behaviors. It will take blankets, towels, and rags lying around somewhere secluded and quiet and arrange them like bedding.
This nesting behavior also indicates that your feline friend is pregnant and will give birth soon.
I am Amy Sawy, a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) graduate from the University of Kansas. y husband, Dr. Plummer, and I own a veterinary clinic in Phillipsburg, Kansas. In addition to my professional background, I am a devoted pet owner myself, with a household that includes dogs, rodents, and most notably, cats – a total of five felines in my home.
In 2020, I joined an organization as a professional writer, leveraging my experience and collaborating with my team to deliver the most valuable information for your cat’s care.