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Cats are incredibly intuitive animals – they often sense it when their owners are ill or upset, and we all know to take notice if our furry friends start acting oddly for what appears to be no reason. But all this begs the question, can cats tell when you are pregnant?
When we become pregnant, our body changes to allow the baby to grow in the best conditions. These changes alter things our cats are likely to pick up on, such as our smell and temperature. This alerts them that something big is going on and can change behavior. So, if you’re wondering, “Do cats get clingy when you’re pregnant?” or “Why is my kitten making biscuits on my belly?” look no further!
In this article, I’m going to dive into the question “My cat keeps kneading my stomach, am I pregnant?” in great detail, exploring how they can detect pregnancy and the various ways in which they may react. I’ll also cover other triggers of this kneading motion in cats so that you know exactly what is going on in their heads.
Can Cats Sense Pregnancy in Humans?
The simple answer to this question is yes, they can! Research suggests that cats can sometimes detect pregnancy before we even know what’s going on. Have you ever noticed your feline’s behavior change when you’re feeling ill or upset? Do they perhaps become clingier? Well, the same thing occurs when we go through pregnancy.
Our feline friends are incredibly observant creatures which, combined with their keen senses, often means they’re clued into changes in ourselves that we may not be aware of. Most cats won’t realize you’re carrying a baby until later in the pregnancy, but they will know something big is happening. So, what are these changes? And what is it that causes our cats to react to them?
Increased Body Temperature
When you become pregnant, your internal body temperature increases. This is due to an increased blood flow boosting our metabolism by roughly 20% (the perfect excuse to eat that slice of cake you’ve been dying for). So, you may be asking, why would this make my cat so affectionate all of a sudden?
Well, I don’t know about you, but my cat has perfected the art of finding the last patch of sun in which to curl up for a nap. Their body temperature is naturally higher than ours, so a warm blanket or a spot by the fire is the perfect place to feel relaxed. Our furry friends thrive in the heat! So if you have a cat curled up in your lap purring, it could be because your stomach makes the perfect heated bed.
When pregnant, our bodies release a mix of hormones that prepare us for the growth and delivery of a baby. These include high amounts of estrogen, progesterone, and human gonadotropin hormone (hCG), the latter of which causes a positive pregnancy result in a urine or blood test. Some argue that these hormonal changes alter a woman’s smell, just like when we reach puberty.
Cats have a fantastic sense of smell, which explains why they’re always around our feet when something amazing is cooking. They have 200 million smell receptors versus our 5 million. Now that’s impressive! It is possible that your kitty could detect a pregnancy before a test based solely on this new odor your emitting everywhere you go.
I’m sure you’ve noticed as well as I that felines can be incredibly observant. This means they are excellent at detecting changes in our behavior and body language. Whether it be a completely new routine or a slight difference in posture, a cat will clock these changes and determine that something big is going on.
Unless your cat has witnessed you pregnant before, they may not realize you’re carrying a baby, but their behavior can still alter in response. Even something as simple as increased fatigue can influence your felines actions – an increase in time spent on the couch or in bed means your cat can snuggle up without the risk of being disturbed.
On top of amazing observation skills and a heightened sense of smell, our furry friends also have a great sense of hearing. Ever noticed the extra folds on your kittens’ ears? These amplify higher frequencies meaning they can hear things we need specialist equipment for.
While being great for hunting, this acute hearing also means that a baby’s heartbeat may be detectable later in pregnancy. However, we don’t yet know if cats can hear this any sooner than a human with a stethoscope, and it is unclear how well they would be able to listen to it if they were not sitting on your lap.
Cat Keeps Kneading My Stomach, Am I Pregnant?
There are many reasons why your cat may regularly knead your stomach, but pregnancy is definitely one of them! As we’ve just seen, cats are very good at detecting pregnancy and often positively alter their own behaviors in response. This often includes laying on or kneading the stomach. Experts believe they’re trying to help stimulate the birth of the baby!
However, there are also many other signs that your furry friend knows about your pregnancy. These common signs include:
- Clinginess: Any sudden changes in the body may cause your cat’s protective side to appear. My cat sleeps on my chest and follows me everywhere when I’m ill; the same thing can happen when you’re pregnant. This may also be why your cat gets in your face while you sleep and seems to be unable to leave you alone!
- Touching Your Belly: Sometimes cats will place their paws on your stomach if they know you’re pregnant, either when laying on your lap or just by your side. The feeling of a baby kicking appears to be enjoyed by our feline friends just as much as it is us.
- At Ease: The new odors associated with pregnancy can make a cat feel more at ease in their home, especially in the presence of their pregnant owner. This can lead to your kitty becoming less skittish around strangers and generally more relaxed and contented.
- Gift-Giving: An increase in toys or the ever-appreciated dead animal being laid at our feet is another common sign that your cat is clued into your pregnancy. It is their way of contributing and showing they care, even if it can sometimes be a bit gruesome!
As you can see, there are a wide variety of ways in which your furry friend will show you they care. But be warned, these behavior changes may also be negative. Here are some of the less-welcome behavior changes that could indicate you have a baby on the way:
- Withdrawal: Like people, cats can get jealous. A baby on the way is one sure-fire way of distracting your attention from your precious kitty. If your kitten suddenly becomes withdrawn, they probably need a little extra loving so that they know you still care.
- Destruction: When feeling neglected, felines can also become rather destructive to both your house and themselves. Urinating around the house, refusing to eat, and scratching up your new sofa are a few of the ways this can surface.
- The Cold Shoulder: Is it suddenly like you’re invisible in your own home? Well, cats can give you the cold shoulder just as well as any person, and it is usually for a similar reason. Anything causing emotional upheaval, such as a change in daily routine, can lead to your pet ignoring you.
If any of these more negative signs suddenly make an appearance in your cat’s behavior, it is important to remember that it is likely because they are feeling neglected. Sometimes my cat sits next to me but not on my lap, and in these cases, I know a little love and attention can go a long way in bringing back the kitty I know and love.
It is also worth mentioning that some kitties won’t show any behavior changes when you’re pregnant, but this does not necessarily mean they haven’t picked up on your pregnant state. Like us, each cat will respond differently to pregnancy, and some may be completely indifferent to your new way of life.
Why Else Do Cats Knead Their Owners’ Stomachs?
I know we have just spent ages talking about being pregnant, so you may be wondering “Why is my cat making biscuits when I know I’m not pregnant?”. I have certainly wondered about this myself in the past, and so I decided to do some research. The truth is there are a variety of reasons why your cat may be kneading your stomach. Read on for a detailed list.
Memories of Nursing
Do you have something from your childhood that you still turn to when having a tough time? Maybe the blanket you used to sleep with or a song your parent used to sing to you? Does it make you feel safe? There are times when we all need something like that to reduce stress and anxiety, and cats are much the same.
Kittens may not have a blanket or song, but they do have the pleasant memory of kneading at their mothers’ teats to bring forth milk. This action is ingrained in cats, and the recreation of it on their owner’s stomach is something that helps felines to feel secure. Of course, the exception to this is if your furry friend was bottle-fed since birth, as there is no memory for your kitty to fall back on.
Love and Affection
Sometimes cats knead their owners’ stomachs as a sign of love, much like we would give someone a hug. It is their way of being affectionate and is usually coupled with purring and the desire to be stroked. Pushing them away at this point will probably be seen as a sign of rejection.
My cat definitely shows love in this way. She will spend every evening curled up on someone’s lap catching her claws in their clothes and begging to be petted. This is why keeping your cat’s nails trimmed is so important! It means we can enjoy their company without the risk of getting a claw stuck in your leg (which, I think we can all agree, kind of ruins the relaxing mood).
Finally, your kitten may be kneading your stomach in order to mark you as theirs. The cute pads on a cat’s paws that are so tempting to play with contain scent glands which become activated with their kneading motion. This scent and any leftover claw marks signal to other kitties in the area that you are included in your cat’s territory.
This can be especially important to your kitty if there is another feline nearby that they feel threatened by. It warns them to stay away! You are your cat’s main food source, so it is important to our furry friends that their owners are marked as theirs.
MY FINAL THOUGHTS
So, do cats knead pregnant bellies? Believe it or not, the answer is yes! During pregnancy body temperature increases, our hormones change, we behave differently, and (of course) we have a baby inside us. Due to their extraordinary senses and super observation skills, cats can detect these changes, and this can affect how they behave.
For some cats, this will mean they become more affectionate, such as kneading your stomach or following you around the house. Others may become more destructive and withdrawn. But however they react, it is important to still show them the love and affection that they need.
We also need to remember that a cat suddenly laying on your stomach doesn’t always point to pregnancy. The well-known kneading motion can also be a sign of love and affection, a way of marking their territory, and can be brought on by memories of nursing when they were small. So, make sure to always take a pregnancy test, not just rely on the intuitiveness of your feline.