When Can You Feel Kittens Move In A Pregnant Cat’s Belly?

pregnant cat lying on the ground

Feeling kittens move in a pregnant cat’s belly is a magical milestone. But when exactly during a cat’s pregnancy will this happen?

You will most likely feel the kittens move in the belly 2 weeks before the due date. Some unborn kittens can start to move in the pregnant cat’s belly as early as 3-4 weeks. But this usually happens from week 7 onwards.

This guide combines expert knowledge to help you understand when and how to detect these gentle movements while respecting your cat’s comfort and space.

Do Kittens Kick In The Womb?

Most kittens develop their nerves and muscles by the fifth week.

Yes, they do, like any other developing mammal.

It also depends on how far your cat is in her pregnancy.

As the kittens grow and develop inside the womb, they will exhibit various movements, such as stretching, turning, and repositioning. 

Before the fourth week, the kittens are still too small to make noticeable movements in her belly.

You might feel some bumps in your cat’s tummy after five weeks if the kittens are big enough.

Most kittens develop their nerves and muscles by the fifth week.

This is the time when you can start to notice small movements as the kittens start to toss and turn in the uterus.

Check out the below video which shows how obvious these kitten movements can be.

I once saw a cat give birth after my friend fostered a pregnant stray cat. It was surreal to see flicks and pokes from the kittens moving inside her belly.

The majority of breeders that I spoke to usually see the kittens moving about 2 weeks before the mother cat gives birth.

Sometimes, it can be as early as 3-4 weeks before the due date.

Cat Pregnancy Timeline

The gestation period of a cat lasts about 65(± 5) days or roughly 9 weeks in total.

This is the time it takes for a female cat to develop the tiny kitten embryos into full-sized kittens that are ready for birth.

Weeks 1- 4

Most pet owners won’t be able to tell if their female cats are pregnant during this period, even if they are expecting.

There will be some behavioral changes like the cat eating more, the occasional morning sickness and being more affectionate than usual.

Your pregnant cat will be experiencing huge hormonal changes that can make her cranky one moment and extremely loving the next.

The cat’s nipples will also start to grow in size and darken in color.

This is the time when a pregnancy test using their blood can be done to see if the cat is really pregnant.

Weeks 4 – 8

pregnant cat having a ultrasound at the vet

You can really start to see a change in the cat’s physical appearance during this period.

The fetuses will start to have a growth spurt and the mother cat’s body will begin to make more room for her kittens.

Her pelvis will get wider, her belly will start to swell up and she will gain weight.

It is during this time that you can notice the kittens moving around in the cat’s pregnant belly.

The vet will be able to do a scan after week 6 to try and determine the size of the litter and the viability of the fetuses.

This will give you a good idea of how many kittens to expect.

Pregnant cats can take a short ‘birthing-break’ during labor so it’s good to know when your cat is completely done giving birth.

Weeks 8-9

It is time for that big day.

Your cat is ready to give birth and will start to show signs of eating less and looking for a place to nest.

She might also start to have milk discharge and contractions.

At this point, it is best to just observe your cat and let her do her job of pushing out her kittens.

What Does A Pregnant Cat Belly Feel Like?

Be careful when handling your cat’s tummy when she is pregnant.

Your cat’s belly will feel harder than it was before the pregnancy.

This is due to the amniotic fluid and growing kittens in her belly that put extra pressure on the abdominal walls.

This will stretch out the belly skin and make it feel harder.

Be careful when handling your cat’s tummy when she is pregnant.

It will become more sensitive and any impact to this area can cause harm to both the mother and unborn kittens.

How Can You Tell How Far Along A Cat Is In Pregnancy?

how to know if cat is done giving birth

It isn’t possible to accurately gauge how far into the pregnancy your cat is by just eyeballing it.

The most accurate way to tell is for the vet to do a scan to ascertain the size of the unborn kittens.

However, here are some visible signs that you can use to gauge the stage of your cat’s pregnancy.

Cat’s Nipples

Your cat’s teats will start to grow and protrude more while turning darker in color during the first 20 days.

As the pregnancy nears its end, you might notice milky discharge or dried milk around the nipples.

A Growing Tummy

Noticeable growth in the cat’s pelvis and abdomen usually happens after week 4.

Your cat’s appetite will also increase during the later stages of her pregnancy as her unborn kittens demand more nourishment.

Moving Kittens

If you happen to see movement coming from within her tummy, that could be another sign that your cat is around 5-6 weeks pregnant.

Before Labor

About 24 hours before your cat gives birth, her appetite will start to decrease and appear agitated.

She will also be licking her genitals more often followed by some discharge.

Why Can’t I Feel My Pregnant Cat’s Kitten Moving?

Assuming that it has already been more than 5 weeks and you can’t feel any movement from the kittens inside, should you start to worry?

There are a couple of factors that determine the ease of detecting movement from the kittens.

The Size Of The Litter

The average litter size for most cats ranges from 4-6 kittens. However, first-time pregnant cats have a smaller litter size.

Cat breeds like the Siamese can have up to a whopping 12 kittens at one go!

The rule of thumb is the larger the litter, the less noticeable will be the movements due to how closely packed the kittens are, like sardines in a can.

There is hardly room for the kittens to move if the mother cat has a large litter.

The Size Of Your Cat

Even if your cat is expecting a small litter, the size of your cat will also determine if it is easy to feel or see the kittens moving.

For small cat breeds like the Munchin or Singapura, it will be easier to see and feel the kittens moving.

But for larger cat breeds like the Maine Coon or Savannah, it won’t be easy as there’s more space for the kittens to move around in the tummy.

Pregnancy Issues

If your pregnant cat is showing signs of bleeding from the vagina or seems to be in discomfort, it would be better to seek veterinary advice.

There isn’t a way to tell if the kittens are still alive and healthy without doing a proper scan at the veterinary clinic.

Kitten movements tend to get more vigorous as the mother cat approaches labor.

If you have always noticed movement and then it stops out of the blue, you should bring your cat to the vet for a check.

How To Prepare Your Cat For Birth?

cat nursing her new born kittens

There are a couple of things that you can do to make your cat more comfortable and make the delivery process safer for both the dam and her kittens.

Keep Her Warm

Make sure to keep the mother indoors and away from the cold. The mother cat and her kittens need a warm environment (85 – 90 F) to avoid complications.

The litter is at risk of dying if it is too cold as newly born kittens can’t regulate their body temperature.

Many newborn kittens die from hypothermia which can be easily prevented.

Prepare A Comfortable Nest

Your pregnant cat will need a suitable place to have her kittens. A big box that is easy for her to get in and out of would be ideal.

Put some clean old towels inside the box and place the box in a quiet room.

A comfortable nest will prevent the mother cat from moving her kittens to another area.

This isn’t ideal especially when the kittens are still days old.

Prepare Some Kitten Food

The mother cat should be able to adequately nurse all her kittens.

But if 1 or 2 of her kittens can’t get enough time to suckle on her teats. Be prepared to hand-feed them with kitten milk formula.

Avoid feeding kittens other milk types or cat food, as they are often lactose intolerant and their digestive systems are underdeveloped.

Giving dairy products or cat foods not intended for newborn kittens can lead to diarrhea and vomiting.

Newborn kittens can be fostered and drink milk from another mother cat that is producing milk.

Another option is to get formulated milk from the vet which has all the necessary nutrients.

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