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Does my cat know I’m pregnant?

Pregnant woman with ginger and white cat by her side

Ever wondered how your cat knows when you are pregnant? Find out more.

© Africa Studio - Shutterstock

Did you know that your cat can sense pregnancy, even before you know it? Your pet's sensitivity can indeed inform you of a happy event to come.

By Emilie Heyl

Updated on the

Cats will always surprise us with their sixth sense! They are able to sense our mood swings or even the imminent danger of a natural disaster. It is amazing to know that cats (or even dogs) can sometimes detect a serious illness such as cancer.

But where do they get these superpowers from? Their sense of smell is their best ally! They are very sensitive to pheromones and notice any hormonal changes. So does your cat know that you are pregnant? Yes, he can smell it: that's why your cat often sleeps on your belly, he knows something is up!

You may be wondering how to prepare your cat for the arrival of your new baby. Is there any danger to your child's health? Will your cat accept the arrival of your baby? We'll look at all of this together.

Do cats know when you are pregnant?

Animals are generally more sensitive than we are and many can sense our hormonal changes. Yes, indeed, cats can actually smell pregnancy. When an embryo settles in your belly, your body odour will change.

In the first month of pregnancy, a pregnant woman will produce more progesterone, estrogen, and hCG. It is these hormones that cause the first symptoms of pregnancy, such as nausea and vomiting. At the same time, the body will secrete oestrogen and progesterone. That's why, your usually independent pet, can become clingy from one day to the other. He may come and stand next to you or even sit on top of you because he will sense the change through smell.

If you are already aware of your pregnancy, your cat can also sense your mood swings. Crying, joy, stress, great happiness, these are all the emotions that can be detected by your pet.

How soon can cats sense pregnancy?

We’ll never fully know why, but cats can sense that there is something changing in a pregnant woman’s body even before she knows it and starts showing. But remember, every woman is different and every cat is different too. But in general, a cat could sense pregnancy as early as three or four weeks. If your feline becomes clingy all of a sudden, go to the pharmacy and buy a pregnancy test. You may be surprised to see two bars on your test.

Your cat’s reaction: How do cats act when you are pregnant?

As we mentioned above, a sudden change in your cat's behaviour should set you thinking: are you pregnant? If you are, first of all congratulations! 

Secondly, you might be wondering how your cat will react to your pregnancy and how your pet will welcome it’s new brother or sister. Let’s find out more.

It’s important to keep in mind that cats who face major life changes (moving in out, arrival of a new pet, pregnancy, etc.), react in a wide variety of ways. One thing is for sure, your cat will react! How? That’s hard to say.

Cats can be disturbed by hormonal changes due to pregnancy. For example, some cats will start to mark their urine. As the name suggests, urine marking is a way for your feline to mark its territory. This marking can be linked to stress. The slightest upheaval can cause a cat to relieve itself outside its litter box. Of course, if your pet starts to mark, do not punish him as you will only make the problem worse. In this case, don't hesitate to visit your vet for advice or treatment.

On the other hand, some cats can become very protective of their pregnant owner and will want to stay very close to them. So close that they can become extremely clingy. Your independent little feline can all of a sudden become your shadow, following you from room to room and needing to stay extremely close to you, not letting anyone between you and him.

Do cats get clingy when you're pregnant?

Yes, some cats will become clingy and will ask for a lot more attention from you. They can feel something is changing and that could make them anxious. It’s important to reassure your animal, put in place a clear routine and give your pet the chance to explore all of the baby things arriving in your home.

Is it safe for a pregnant woman to be around a cat?

The short answer is yes! But with precaution.

All too often we hear: "You have a cat? Watch out for toxoplasmosis". It is a risk, but a small and manageable one. As long as the mother-to-be has already been infected, she has the necessary antibodies and there is no risk for the baby. Serological screening is therefore necessary at the beginning of a pregnancy to find out whether or not you have already had toxoplasmosis.

A pregnant woman is more likely to get toxoplasmosis from eating unwashed vegetables or raw meat than from their cat. For a cat to be infected with this parasite it must have eaten infested raw meat such as mice or birds. The parasite will then lodge in the intestines and will be found in the feline’s stool. Most cats living in flats eat industrial food, so the risk of contamination is almost zero. Contamination is done orally, so you should not have any contact with your pet's faeces and put your hands in your mouth. To limit the risk, you can ask your partner to clean the litter box every 2-3 days and to wash your hands after you’ve petted your cat.

Although it is not dangerous for cats, the parasite can have consequences on humans, especially in early pregnancy. For a healthy person, toxoplasmosis will cause few symptoms. In the majority of cases, the disease may have the same symptoms as the flu: mild fever, tiredness, muscle aches and swollen glands. In the foetus, toxoplasmosis can lead to significant abnormalities and even miscarriage. Moreover, the earlier the infection occurs in pregnancy, the more serious the congenital toxoplasmosis. It should be noted that 80% of toxoplasmosis cases occurring during pregnancy will not cause any symptoms to the pregnant woman.

Can I sleep with my cat while pregnant?

As you have become accustomed to sleeping with your four-legged friend, you would like to know if it is safe for your cat to sleep on your belly while pregnant. The answer is probably not what you would like to hear, but it’s best to avoid sleeping with your cat while you are pregnant. Your cat could be infected by toxoplasmosis and if you get scratched you could catch it too. It is even strongly recommended that you wash your hands after stroking him!

How to prepare your cat for the arrival of your baby

As with any change in a cat's life (moving house, getting a new pet) the arrival of a baby is something that has to be prepared so that your feline is as welcoming and relaxed as possible. Even if your cat knows you're pregnant, he can't possibly know what changes are involved.

Scent is very important

Are you excited about the arrival of the baby? And so you should be! So you've been rushing to make new arrangements and prepare a cosy room for your child? And, well your furry friend is probably very curious (not to say stressed) when there is something new in their environment! They need to get their bearings and leave their scent on these sights. It is therefore important for your cat to explore this new room and everything in it so that he understands that it is safe.

Once the baby has arrived at the maternity ward, you could take things back home with you with your baby's scent so your cat can get used to this new smell? Once the whole family is back home, your pet will already know the smell of your little one.

Create a safe space for your cat

When you have a child, you will have probably changed many things in the house and moved furniture, for our little furry friends, it's a real source of stress because their territory changes and they won't recognise it. With the repetition of these discomforts, there is a risk that marking will come to tarnish the picture to signal his discomfort. How can this be avoided? If possible, find a space where your baby will not go. The key is to keep as many spots as possible where your cat can take refuge and feel safe.

Be patient, especially when your cat and baby meet for the first time 

As with any new guest in your home, don't force contact between your cat and baby. It's a meeting that should be natural and gentle! The more relaxed the first contact, the more likely it is that your cat will take it as a positive experience. When you return home with your newborn, don't forget to make the official and respectful introductions and, above all, continue to pay attention to him.

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