LIFESTYLE

Do Cats Know When You are Pregnant?

cat and pregnant woman
Jeremy Vaughn
Written by Jeremy Vaughn

The moment you become pregnant, it is never business as usual. Whether you know it or not, your body changes to accommodate the growing life within you. These changes do not escape cats either; their keen sense of smell, sight, and hearing can detect that all that is happening around them because that is the way they are wired to survive. Do cats know when you are pregnant? There is enough evidence to suggest that they do.

Cats react differently to the various changes that you undergo. They may not know that you are growing a new life and what to expect, but they can detect changes in your emotions, behavior, and physical body. While each individual cat is different, at the end of the day, there is a certain behavior that is common. We will tell you what is likely to happen between a pregnant woman and her cat.

What are the changes that your cat is likely to detect? They all stem from the hormonal adjustments caused by pregnancy. We have analyzed the role of these hormones to give you a clearer picture. We will also expound on how your cat’s keen senses help him detect everything about you and the pregnancy below.

Hormonal Changes During Pregnancy

Hormones are chemicals that regulate different functions in the body. They circulate in the blood, carrying messages to and from different parts of the body. They are triggered when the body needs to adjust to any physiological changes. Such triggers include changes in metabolism, behavior, emotions, and respiration.

When a woman becomes pregnant, her body undergoes physiological changes as a result of adjustments in the endocrine system. These are aimed at accommodating the developing fetus.

The human chorionic gonadotropin or hCG is the first hormone that increases rapidly in production rate after conception. In the first ten weeks, hCG levels double every two days.

The hormone is responsible for keeping the main pregnancy hormones—estrogen and progesterone—at the appropriate levels. It remains elevated until the placenta is well developed enough to take over this function.

Estrogen and progesterone are the main hormones responsible for the various physiological changes during pregnancy. Most changes in the gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, respiratory, and musculoskeletal systems in a pregnant woman are attributed to these hormones.

While cats may not be directly aware of what hormonal changes are happening in your body, they pick up on the more outwardly obvious changes in your body caused by these elevated levels of hormones instead. So, what are some of these changes and how do cats detect them? We will explain them in detail below.

Body Odor Changes During Pregnancy

cat's nose

One of the most common changes during pregnancy is body odor. Almost every part of you smells! Your breath may change due to vomiting that comes with morning sickness, dehydration, gum disease, or burping, which comes as a result of gas build up.

Your sweat glands go wild too; suddenly, the effects of a shower don’t last. This is bound to bring some body odor along. This can also be heightened by nutritional changes. Extra intake of foods like broccoli, cabbage, red meat, seafood, and some spices change the smell of your sweat.

Other smells include vaginal odors, smelly hair, obnoxious farts, and as weird as it sounds, a smelly belly button among others.

Cats can detect body odors due to their heightened sense of smell, which ranks as the most powerful amongst the other senses. As a matter of fact, your furry baby’s sense of smell is 14 times more efficient than yours.

A cat’s sense of smell is made up of 200 million nerve cells. A human only has 5 million. The scent-sensitive cells in a typical 6.6-lbs feline cover a 3.1sq inch area, while that of a 154-lbs adult human covers 1.55sq inch. At the same time, cats have a larger area of the cerebral cortex dedicated to olfaction.

This acute sense of smell is innate and allows cats to hunt efficiently by picking up their prey’s scents and helping them keep out of the rival territory. Your furry baby is also able to pick you out in a crowd or trail a mouse by using his nose. This is what enables kittens to smell their mother and find their way to her tits long before they even open their eyes.

See Also: When Do Cats Open Their Eyes

Cats may actually be able to sense odor brought about by your pregnancy way before you become aware of it.

Emotional Changes During Pregnancy

cat grooming a woman

Pregnancy comes with a host of emotional changes. This is mainly due to the hormonal changes that take place. Most women report that their moods go ‘up’ and ‘down’ at a moment’s notice.

One minute you will be overcome by the joy of being pregnant. The next minute, you will be in tears, wondering what will happen after your kid is born. This sudden emotional change may lead to changes in how you relate with your cat. He will pick up on this and treat you differently also.

Many studies concur that fluctuations of hormones affect the levels of neurotransmitters in the brain. These are chemicals massagers in the body that regulate your moods.

From the first six to ten weeks of the pregnancy, your body will be going through a myriad of changes which will be accompanied by mood swings. Most of these moods swings manifest in the first and the third trimester.

The confirmation of pregnancy can lead to happiness, making you act overly thoughtful and loving toward your fur baby. He, on the other hand, may find the sudden closeness fishy and shy away from you or grow closer.

You may also experience anger or uncertainty due to the fear of the unknown—especially if it’s your first pregnancy. Depression and insecurity are also common. Your cat will pick up on such moods, and he will try to comfort you.

If your fur baby is a molly, her maternal instincts will kick in. She will be more comforting and may even try to groom you, just like she would to her kittens. She may also try to initiate play as a way of getting you out of the slump you’re in.

During the second trimester, you may have settled into the situation and are less likely to be overly emotional. The calmness may bring back your cat’s usual routine, making him act more relaxed towards you.

If your emotions remain intact during the first and second trimester, your cat may miss the signs of the growing baby. However, the third trimester comes with a host of emotions. Your hormones will run rampant and so will your emotions, and your cat will definitely notice at this point if he hadn’t before.

While a cat may not be able to pinpoint the source of your mood swings, he can surely tell that something is up. He can also notice that others are treating you differently especially when they try to accommodate your sadness, happiness, anxiety, and other emotions.

A close observation of your cat’s behavior towards you can actually tell you if your emotions have deviated from normal due to your pregnancy.

Behavioral Changes During Pregnancy

pregnant woman and black cat

The life growing inside you will definitely lead to changes in your behavior. Because you devote most of your internal mechanisms to the development of the fetus, your body becomes fatigued easily. This is the result of the production of high levels of progesterone which can cause fatigue.

This translates to possible changes in your walking posture. Your cat will also detect that his play time with you becomes shorter with time. He may interpret fewer activities with you as dislike or loss of love towards him.

He will also pick on the indifference during feeding time that may be brought about by your dislike of his food’s smell.

Many pregnant women also undergo certain health issues that are evident to your cat. Increased heartburns and acid reflux can make you unpleasant to be around as you try to puke your way through the discomfort. The same goes for a bloated stomach brought about by muscle relaxation in the bowels leading to gas buildup.

Another pregnancy symptom which your cat can detect is changes in your sense of smell. You may become overwhelmed by your cat’s smell which was probably not that bad before the pregnancy.

The same goes for his belongings like beddings and toys which may suddenly have a pungent smell. This may lead to a strained relationship which your loyal furry baby is bound to notice and probably be depressed over.

See Also: How to Help a Depressed Cat

Physical Changes During Pregnancy

cat hiding

Cats have superior sight compared to most species in the animal kingdom. Compared to humans, cats can see five times better with an extra 20o of visual range. This goes to show that your feline friend can detect changes in your body shape brought about by the pregnancy.

Cravings and improved appetite are some of the things that a pregnant woman experiences. This leads to weight gain which is visible a few weeks after conception. A woman’s torso grows with the breast size increasing by a cup or two during the pregnancy.

It’s not only the bras that one has to shop for; clothes soon become rather small due to an increase in the body size. These changes may go unnoticed by even your close friends, especially in the first months. Your cat, on the other hand, is very observant and will notice your changing ‘baby-body’ right away.

The added weight also leads to changes not only in the body shape but also the gait, which your cat will notice. He may not comprehend why the physical changes are taking place, but it will change the way he relates to you. A timid cat may even grow fearful and end up hiding whenever you enter a room.

Also, it’s not uncommon for a pregnant woman to rub her belly once in a while. While the gesture may not be meaningful to a cat, he may start rubbing on your belly lovingly the same way you do. He may use his paws to get a feel for your baby bump, trying to discover what it means and why it has become so important to you.

Home Environment Changes During Pregnancy

unhappy cat

Apart from the changes in your body that lead to behavior and emotional changes, your home environment will undergo modifications to accommodate the baby. You will have to designate a room for the baby. Furniture may have to be rearranged in the other rooms to fit cribs, toys, clothing bins, etc. These changes won’t go unnoticed by your cat.

Cats are creatures of routine and order. They will eat at the same time, expect playtime at the same time of the day, and make use of the litter box routinely. This seamless routine will, however, be interrupted by baby preparations. Your cat will feel that he is being edged out and he may react fiercely towards you.

There is anecdotal evidence of felines trashing the baby room or chewing on toys meant for the baby. This is as a result of fear or anxiety of the changes taking place. Your cat may take to acting out as a way of making his displeasure known.

Changes brought about by your pregnancy will be more noticeable by your cat if they involve invading his space. If his litter box or bed has to be moved, be sure your furry baby will take notice.

Wrap Up

pregnant woman holding a cat

Cats can definitely detect when you are pregnant. This is enabled by their heightened senses. Your cat’s sense of smell is 14 times better than yours. He can certainly smell when your body odors change due to vomiting, dehydration, gas build-up, excess sweating, change in diet, vaginal discharge, and other hormonal changes that bring about different odors.

When your emotions run wild, your furry friend takes it in. He can detect when you are happy, excited, frustrated, angry, etc., and he responds according to how he interprets them. He can also see variations in your behavior and can deduce that you’re probably reacting to his smell or the smell of his food.

Your cat’s sharp sight helps him to notice the slightest physical change in your body. He can tell that your tummy is different and so is your gait and willingness to engage in play. In a nutshell, cats do know when you are pregnant.

Have you noticed anything else in your cat that tells you he knows? Let us know all about it. Please leave your feedback below. Your pet cat knows more than you think. Check out our article on how smart are cats next.

About the author
Jeremy Vaughn
Jeremy Vaughn

Jeremy Vaughn is a member of Canadian Professional Pet Stylists, who lives in Winnipeg. Creating new looks for cats and other pets is his passion. Jeremy shares his house with the wife and wonderful Siamese cat.

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