Pet Keen is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

Home > Cats > Can Cats Sense Pregnancy? What Science Says

Can Cats Sense Pregnancy? What Science Says

cat and pregnant woman sitting on the sofa

Most cat owners would agree that their precious companions have what could only be described as a sixth sense. When it comes to pregnancy, many owners have told stories about how they felt their pet cat was able to pick up on their pregnancy even before they did.

Some have even described how their pet cat became more attentive and treated them differently during their pregnancy. So, could there be any truth to a cat’s ability to sense pregnancy? Sadly there is no solid evidence for cats knowing or predicting pregnancy. We’ve dived into the science behind these claims to find out.

divider-cat

Can Cats Sense Pregnancy?

There is no scientific evidence that cats can sense pregnancy. However, there is solid evidence that cats can pick up on certain changes that occur during pregnancy. So, while they cannot fully grasp and understand that there is a new baby on the way, they are certainly noticing the changes happening both within the pregnant woman and in the daily routine.

A Cat’s Sense of Smell and Hormonal Fluctuations During Pregnancy

A cat’s sense of smell is 14 times more sensitive than that of a human being, as they have millions upon millions more scent receptors. This gives cats the ability to smell things that humans could not even imagine, including hormonal fluctuations that are occurring in a pregnant woman.

Hormones are what make pregnancy possible and sustain it until the baby is born. The increase of hormones during pregnancy is what causes all the telltale pregnancy symptoms, and while the hormones do not noticeably change a woman’s odor, your cat has the capability of smelling these changes. Here’s a quick look at some of the hormones that surge during pregnancy:

mad cat at its pregnant owner
Image Credit: Vikkin, Shutterstock

Pregnancy Hormones

  • Progesterone- The hormone progesterone increases substantially during pregnancy. It not only primes the uterus for a pregnancy, but it also helps maintain the pregnancy and is vital for the growth and development of the fetus.
  • Estrogen- Estrogen plays an important role in pregnancy along with progesterone. Estrogen regulates other hormones, triggers the baby’s development, regulates blood flow, maintains the uterine lining, and causes the milk ducts to form.
  • hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin)-The hormone hCG is used to confirm pregnancy during testing. The levels of this particular hormone are extremely high in the early stages of pregnancy. hCG is produced in the cells of the placenta and provides the placenta with adequate blood supply and helps the mother’s body tolerate the developing embryo.
  • Prolactin- Prolactin is produced in the pituitary gland and becomes very high in pregnant women and those that have just given birth. Prolactin is responsible for milk production and breast development during and after pregnancy.
  • Relaxin- Relaxin is a hormone that is produced in the ovaries and placenta. It assists in the relaxation of muscles and the loosening of ligaments in the pelvis to help the body prepare for birth.

Will Pregnancy Change a Cat’s Behavior?

There is a chance that pregnancy could change a cat’s behavior. It is important to keep in mind, however, that cats are individuals with unique personalities and characteristics. Some cats may be very reactive to pregnancy, while others may not seem to pay any mind to the circumstances. Here are some possible behavior changes you may notice:

  • They may be more affectionate.
  • They may act more alert and watchful.
  • They may seem more curious.
  • They may seem annoyed or put off.
  • They may exhibit signs of stress or anxiety.
  • You may notice no difference in their behavior.
Pregnant woman on the couch with cat
Image Credit: Zhuravlev Andrey, Shutterstock

Changes That May Be Noticeable to Cats During Pregnancy

It’s important to keep in mind that hormones aren’t the only changes that occur during pregnancy. Cats are sensitive animals that can pick up on even the slightest subtleties. Let’s look at some other potential changes cats may notice:

Body Temperature

Another change that cats can pick up on is the slight change in the body temperature of a pregnant woman. During pregnancy, the woman’s body temperature increases approximately 0.4 degrees above average.

This temperature increase typically goes unnoticed by the woman unless she is measuring her basal body temperature regularly but any cats in the home can pick up on the change very easily. We all know how much our kitties love seeking warmth, so snuggling up in the warm, cozy lap of a pregnant woman may be just what they prefer.

Routine

While some people may be able to stick to their normal routine before the baby arrives, some may need to readjust their routine to accommodate pregnancy. Whether your  schedule has been adjusted, or things around the home are being moved around in preparation for the new addition, your cat will undoubtedly notice the change.

Some cats may not react at all to the changes, while some may get anxious or stressed when these large changes begin to happen. It’s best to talk to your veterinarian if you notice your cat exhibiting signs of stress surrounding the situation. They will be able to give you advice on how to help your cat best cope during this time.

Behavior and Mood

It’s no secret that changes in mood and behavior can occur during pregnancy. Between the hormonal fluctuations, the excitement, nervousness, and anticipation for the new baby, the behavior of everyone in the household is bound to change in some ways. Cats can pick up on these emotional cues and while changes in household behavior may not affect them directly in all cases, they are still bound to notice it.

Pregnant woman with cat on her lap
Image Credit: Africa Studio, Shutterstock

Adjusting to the Change

The sudden changes that come with pregnancy and bringing home a new baby have the potential to cause a lot of stress on cats. Here are some tips on how to prepare your cat for the new arrival.

Desensitization

If you are a new parent and your cat has never been around a human baby before, it can be a bit overwhelming for them. Try desensitizing them to baby noises and the sounds of toys and other items that will be used before the baby arrives.

You can even play recordings of crying babies and other sounds babies make to assist in the process. You’ll be much too preoccupied once the baby is born to put full attention on acclimating any pets, so the sooner you can do so before the baby arrives, the better.

Introduce Baby Items

Some cats can be sensitive to changes in the environment. You will likely be changing one of the rooms into a nursery and adding more furniture and items into the mix. Try to slowly add these items in the least stressful way possible and slowly introduce your cat to all the new stuff to show them it’s not a threat to their routine.

Establish a Routine

Your schedule and daily routine may change a bit during pregnancy, but they will surely change after the baby is born. Make sure you carve out that special playtime and kitty mealtimes so that it doesn’t cause you or your cat an inconvenience once the baby comes home. It’s best to get them on this new routine long before the baby arrives so that it’s not an additional drastic change all at once.

a tabby cat lying on pregnant womans lap
Image Credit: Sunsetoned, Pexels

divider-cat

Final Thoughts

While cats may be able to pick up on some of the changes that occur during pregnancy, there is no scientific evidence that they can either sense or understand that their owner is pregnant. Regardless, it is a good idea to take the proper steps to ensure your cat makes a smooth transition to life with the new baby. If you’ve noticed they are showing more love and affection because of a pregnancy, you may as well get as many snuggles as you can before life turns upside down.


Featured Image Credit: Africa Studio, Shutterstock

Our vets

Want to talk to a vet online?

Whether you have concerns about your dog, cat, or other pet, trained vets have the answers!

Our vets