If you are expecting a baby and have noticed your cat behaving a little differently, you are not alone! Many moms-to-be have noticed their felines having an increased need to be fussed. But do cats get clingy when you’re pregnant? Or is this just a coincidence?
According to animal behavior specialists, cats can actually tell when you’re pregnant – sometimes before even you and your partner! Experts believe cats can sense changes in our hormones, letting them know we are pregnant. And, being the wonderful creatures that they are, cats often respond to this by being more clingy and protective of their pregnant owner.
In this article, I will run through how cats can tell if you’re pregnant, what signs let them know, and how this triggers a range of behavioral changes in our pets.
How Can Cats Sense Pregnancy?
Although there is no scientific evidence backing up the claims that cats can sense pregnancy, many owners moms, or moms-to-be, swear their cat can tell. This is widely reported and commonly believed, and even animal behavioral specialists agree.
But how can cats tell if you’re pregnant? Cats don’t have some sixth sense that lets them know. Their senses are just fine-tuned to notice changes in your hormone levels, body temperature, and behavior associated with even the early stages of pregnancy. It is also possible they can hear a fetal heartbeat!
Here is a closer look at how each of these can be picked up by our feline friends.
1. They Detect Hormonal Changes
The hormonal changes that come with pregnancy are unique and give your cat a clear indication that you’re pregnant. The two hormones mainly involved in pregnancy are estrogen and progesterone, which both surge shortly after conception. In fact, a woman will produce more estrogen in a singular pregnancy than she will for the entirety of the rest of her life!
The increased estrogen levels help blood vessels form in the placenta to help transfer nutrients from the mother to the fetus, whereas progesterone helps to loosen your joints to allow room for a child and helping with the formation of the uterus.
Although these hormonal changes may go unnoticed by people, cats have an extraordinarily strong sense of smell. It is around 15 times as strong a human’s thanks to the 200 million scent receptor cells found in their noses, meaning even the tiniest changes in scent will be noticed. The changes in your hormone levels will mean your personal smell shifts, which cats can detect before some pregnancy tests are even able to.
2. They Pick Up on Behavioral Changes
Cats are attuned to pick up on even the slightest changes in our behavior and are amazing at reading our body language. If you’re happy, they’ll know. If you’re sad, they’ll know. And if you’re pregnant, you’ve guessed it… they’ll know!
During early pregnancy, you will likely suffer from severe mood swings in response to the fluctuations in your hormone levels. You may also suffer from morning sickness and be much more tired than usual, and friends and family may be doing a lot more for you than they would have previously. If you have had issues trying to conceive of the pregnancy was unexpected, you may also be dealing with feelings of anxiety, stress, and overwhelm.
All of these changes can be picked up by our cats and make them aware that you are pregnant. Even more subtle changes to your body posture could be all it takes for your cat to realize what is going on inside your body.
3. They Notice an Increase in Body Temperature
When in the first trimester, pregnant women also commonly see changes in their core body temperature. This is again down to the fluctuating hormones causing an increased blood flow that is associated with pregnancy. This increased blood flow, in turn, boosts your metabolism by around 20%, causing body temperature to increase from around 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit to around 99.
Once again, whereas humans would struggle to notice an increase this small, cats can.
Cats have a core body temperature that is naturally higher than humans, which averages at around 102 degrees. Therefore, they’re naturally drawn towards warmth, hence why your cat may love curling up by the radiator. When your body temperature increases by a few degrees, cats are drawn toward it in the same way.
4. They Can Hear Your Baby’s Heartbeat
Not only do cats have an extraordinarily good sense of smell, but their hearing is also top-notch. This is thanks to an extra fold inside of cats’ ears which helps to magnify sounds, explaining why often your cat appears to hear things we cannot. Thanks to this, it is also possible cats know your pregnant as they can hear your baby’s heartbeat.
As your baby develops and gets bigger, their heartbeat will get stronger and louder. So, whereas your cat will almost definitely be able to hear it at some point during the pregnancy, there is still a big question as to how early. However, it is more likely that a cat will sense the other changes before it can hear a heartbeat inside your tummy.
How Do Cats Act When You’re Pregnant?
We have established that cats can sense pregnancy even early on by detecting changes in hormone levels, behavior, and core body temperature. However, how does knowing you’re pregnant change your cat’s behavior?
Truth be told, cat behavior in human pregnancy varies from cat to cat. Some cats get clingy, needy, and obsessed with the owners. Others may react by attacking pregnant women or biting you! Here is a closer look at the two different behaviors you may notice and why your cat could be acting this way.
1. Clingy & Obsessed
Commonly, pregnant women will report their cat has become extremely clingy, if not obsessed with them! You may notice your cat meowing for your attention more frequently, snuggling up to you much more, and even wanting to lay on your stomach. When your cat is pregnant, you may also notice similar changes in its behavior.
Many people believe this is because your cat is being loving and protective. They can sense new life in you and, as their favorite human, they want to help and protect you by showing love and affection. With friends and family offering an extra helping hand around the home, this could be your cat’s way of doing the same.
It is also likely that your cat is being clingy because you’re more available. Whereas before you may have had a busy life, you may now be spending more time sleeping and resting as your pregnancy has taken it out of you! If your cat spies you lying on the couch, they could see it as an open invitation for more cat cuddles.
Besides, as mentioned, cats seek out warm areas as they have a slightly elevated body temperature. Therefore, it could be that your cat doesn’t care too much about your pregnancy at all – they simply want to be nearer you because you are warmer. In reality, it is likely a combination of all of these things which drives a cat’s clingy behavior when their owner is pregnant.
2. Aggressive & Poorly Behaved
On the other end of the spectrum, some moms-to-be report cats becoming more aggressive during pregnancy, biting their owners. Cats will sometimes act out in other ways too. For example, they may purposefully urinate outside their litter box, start scratching your furniture more often than usual, or participate in any other destructive behavior.
This is usually because the cat has become somewhat neglected during the pregnancy, or their usual routine has been disrupted. After all, cats are creatures of habit and even the smallest of changes can cause them to become stressed and lash out.
It is so important that when pregnant you continue to give love and attention to your kitty to ensure this doesn’t happen. If your cat gets aggressive before the baby is here, imagine what it could be like when you bring a new child into their home! Besides, life will likely get even more hectic once you have a baby to look after, so it is best to nail the routine now.
For anyone struggling to take proper care of their cat or feeling overwhelmed, that’s okay. However, it is worth asking friends or family for help. When given the love it needs, your cat will likely be extremely affectionate towards you and your baby.
Can You Be Around Cats When You’re Pregnant?
As cats are typically clingy when a human is pregnant, some mothers-to-be worry about the effect this could have on their baby. The main concern is whether it is safe for cats to lie on your stomach when you’re pregnant. Some people worry that the cat may be too heavy, whereas others are concerned that the excess body heat coming from their cat could cause harm to the baby.
Thankfully, both of these myths are false. It is perfectly safe to have your cat nearby throughout your entire pregnancy! You can let your cat sleep on your chest, have as many cat cuddles as you wish, and not worry at all about the effects this will have on your baby. Additionally, as long as you care for your cat well, you do not need to worry about potential destructive or aggressive behavior.
However, you should be extra careful when cleaning out your cat’s litter tray and be aware of possible cat allergies developing. Here’s a little more information on why.
Toxoplasmosis is an infection caused when the parasites found in cat feces are ingested. If this infection develops while you are pregnant, or even before while trying to conceive, it can cause severe birth defects and brain damage to your unborn child.
Although this sounds scary, having a cat around your home is no cause for concern as you will not run into this parasite just through stroking your cat. However, if you are concerned about this, be sure to wash your hands after each petting session.
The only real risk of getting toxoplasmosis comes from cleaning out your cat’s litter tray, as this is where the feces and hence parasites will be found. Ideally, you could get a friend or family member to clean out your cat’s litter tray for you. An excuse to pass the buck on to someone else? Yes, please!
That all being said, the parasite only causes infection five days after your cat has done its business. Therefore, if only you are around to do this job, cleaning the litter box daily will help prevent you from getting the infection. The poop and parasites will be long gone before they become infectious. Also, be sure to wear disposable gloves or wash your hand thoroughly after use. You can also wear a face mask or covering for further protection.
Pregnancy can also cause changes in your immune system and you could become allergic to something you were previously fine with, such as your cat. Pet allergies are common as it is, and if you do not have cat allergies right now, there is a possibility that you could develop an allergy to your cat throughout your pregnancy. If you have mild pet allergies now, they may also become worse.
However, you do not need to be a long-term allergy sufferer to experience allergies during pregnancy. Many women with no other known allergies report symptoms – such as sneezing, coughing, and itching – during pregnancy. If you do think you have an allergic reaction during pregnancy, it is best to speak to a doctor and always check before taking any antihistamines or other allergy relief medication.
On the other hand, around a third of women say their allergies have eased throughout their pregnancy. So, you may well be one of the lucky ones!
How to Help Your Cat Adjust to Your Pregnancy
If you’re expecting, making sure your cat feels comfortable with there being a baby in the home is probably the last thing you’re thinking about. However, helping to acclimatize your cat or kitten to there being an extra person in the house is key! Otherwise, your cat could become stressed, unhappy, and act out.
To ensure a smooth transition through pregnancy and beyond, here are some tips on acclimatizing your cat.
Stick to the Same Routine
I’ve already mentioned how important it is to stick to the same routine you had for your cat before your pregnancy, and this should extend to when your baby is born and beyond. Cats are not the biggest fans of change! Even the tiniest alterations can cause them to freak out.
When I say the same routine, you should try to get up at the same time each day and feed your cat the same food at the same time. Keeping their playtime routine consistent will also help, as will regularly cleaning their litter box. Sticking to a strict schedule will create a sense of calm and order that you and your cat will both be grateful for.
That being said, if you know your current routine won’t work when the baby is around, now is the time to switch it up as your baby will then be your top priority. You may deal with an annoyed cat for a few weeks, but if you stick to your new schedule now then your kitty can be feeling comfortable and relaxed by the time the baby comes along.
Limit the Attention You Provide
Yes, cats can often get clingy during pregnancy, not wanting to leave the owner alone. However, if you’re too lavish with the affection to give your feline now, it may backfire when the little one comes along if you cannot keep it up. If you know that the time you currently spend playing with your cat will be unattainable once the baby is here, try to gradually draw it back as the birth nears.
Some cat owners don’t like this idea. They want to spend as much time with their pet as possible knowing that their baby will take up their time later on. However, this can cause problems when the child is born as your cat could become jealous and aggressive towards the baby.
Desensitize Your Cat to Loud Sounds
Some cats are quite comfortable with loud noises, whereas others are extremely she and timid. Does your cat flee every time to run the vacuum, when you play loud music, or even when your house gets a little busy? If so, you must introduce your cat to sounds, as babies can be loud! Even if not, it’s still a good idea to do this step anyway as the sounds of a baby will be completely new to your cat.
While nobody wants to deal with a screaming baby at 2am, this foreign and loud noise will cause your cat stress. It’s not just the screaming and crying you need to help your cat become accustomed to either. The day-to-day baby noises such as gurgling, cooing, and yelling are also new and confusing for your cat, not to mention the sound from baby toys.
To help prepare your cat, try searching for baby noises online and playing these through a speaker. This way, when your baby does come along, your feline won’t be as startled and confused. If your cat isn’t having any of it, you could try giving your cat a treat or a pet as your play the baby noises to help them form good connections and positive associations with these new sounds.
Even setting your alarm to go off a little louder or playing the TV on a higher volume can help your cat become more used to louder sounds. When the baby comes along, there’s no escaping them!
Show Your Cat Baby Items
Alongside new sounds, babies come with a lot of extra bits and pieces that are also new to your cat – such as their new crib, toys, clothes, changing table, buggy, and more! While we know what’s what, these new objects can again cause your feline stress, making the transition to having a baby that bit harder.
I recommend setting up your baby’s nursery and getting out some of the toys for your cat to take a look at. Let them into the room and explore these new items and realize they are not a threat. If you have toys that have lights and noises, turn these on also.
Cats are curious creatures, so they should happily explore on their own. However, you can again give your cat treats or a scratch in its favorite spot to help them feel safe about this new environment. After you have let your cat do their exploring, ensure you cover the crib and changing mat to let your kitty know they are not allowed to nap here.
Let Your Cat Meet Friend’s Babies
If you have got friends or family with young children, why not introduce your cat to them? Whereas playing baby sounds through your speaker and letting your cat explore the nursery is great, nothing beats the real deal. This will also let your cat get used to babies’ behaviors too.
The presence of a real baby also allows you to introduce your cat to an infant gradually over time and assess how they respond. In any other situation, this would be impossible! So, if you have friends with little ones, invite them round for a coffee and a play date for some baby cuddles, a spot of socializing, and a peek into what’s to come when your baby is born.
Do cats get clingy when you’re pregnant? Most of the time, yes, they do, so don’t be alarmed if your cat is acting weird during your pregnancy.
Cats can detect changes in your hormone levels, behavior, and body temperature which inform them that you’re carrying a child. They will then become needier as they try to show love and affection, as well as being naturally attracted to our warmer body temperature.
However, sometimes cats can bite pregnant women or act aggressively. This is down to stress and likely because they are not getting the love and attention they need. To prevent this bad behavior and to make the transition of bringing a baby into the family easier, it is crucial to show your cat love and establish a routine you can stick to.