If you have a nursing cat, there’s a chance that she could become pregnant again within weeks of giving birth. While it’s highly unlikely for humans to become pregnant again while breastfeeding, this isn’t the case with cats, who apparently keep their fertility regardless of nursing.
When the kittens are born, the mother cat will be around round-the-clock, nursing and taking care of them. As the kittens get to four weeks old, they become more independent even though they still nurse for a few more weeks. At this point, the queen might not stay as close to her young, and may head outside to find a mate.
Cats exist for survival, and breed frequently and in large numbers to ensure their species’ survival. In cooler climates, your cat will generally go into heat for two to three weeks twice a month, except during the months leading up to the coldest part of the year. Many cats will typically go dormant from October through December, since it’s dangerous for kittens to be born in the wild during a freeze.
In warmer climates, or if your cat is kept indoors, they may go into heat numerous times per year.
So, how can you tell if your nursing cat is pregnant again? There are a few signs to look for, but it’s essential to keep in mind that these signs aren’t conclusive. Early pregnancy symptoms can also be mistaken for post-labor changes.
1. Behavioral changes – If your cat is pregnant again, there’s the likelihood that she’ll undergo some particular behavior changes during preparation for a litter. Some cats become very snuggly during this time, while others might act anxious or even aggressive.
2. Sleeping Lethargy – Pregnant cats might get fatigued. If you see your cat sleeping more than usual, it could be an indication that she’s pregnant.
3. Changes in appetite – Most pregnant cats eat more because they have to feed their growing family. However, some pregnant nursing cats may eat less, especially if they have morning sickness. If your cat throws up, it’s a sign that she could be pregnant again.
4. Pink and swollen nipples – Your cat’s nipples will usually swell and turn pink around their second week of pregnancy and again towards the end of their 65-day gestation period. Since your queen is still nursing, it could be tough to tell if changes in her nipple color is solely due to feeding her kittens. If you suspect anything strange with the nipples, ensure you take your cat to the vet right away.
5. Weight gain – A pregnant cat will usually pack on between two and four pounds. If your cat’s stomach area seems too bulky, and it cannot be attributed to the last pregnancy, you need to take her to the vet to give her an examination.
6. Changes in her heat cycle – Heat cycles are quite loud. If you notice your queen going back into heat a couple of weeks after giving birth but then suddenly stops displaying signs within a week of the beginning of her cycle, there’s a good chance she’s pregnant again.
7. X-ray or an ultrasound – An X-ray can confirm a pregnancy after about 42 days while an ultrasound is generally more helpful since it will show results two or three weeks after conception and can be used to verify the health of the kittens.
Kittens are lovely, but they can also bring about some stress, especially if you weren’t prepared for another litter. If you don’t want to bring more kittens into the world, ensure you keep your queen indoors after birth until it’s safe to have her spayed. A vet should confirm whether your cat is pregnant, and from there, you can decide whether you want to schedule her spay or wait until after the next kittens are born and weaned.