Pregnancy problems

False Pregnancy in Cats

Josie F. Turner
By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. Updated: February 22, 2018
False Pregnancy in Cats

See files for Cats

Although cases of phantom or false pregnancy in cats are very rare, it can happen. Pseudopregnancy, the scientific name of this condition, manifests the some or all the symptoms of pregnancy without the animal actually being pregnant.

The instinct for reproduction is very strong. Female cats who cannot conceive or that go through heat without mating, have mated with infertile cats, may show signs of false pregnancy. In this AnimalWised article we'll discuss the causes, symptoms and treatment of pseudopregnancy in cats.

You may also be interested in: Can Cats Have Miscarriages?
  1. What causes false pregnancy in cats?
  2. Symptoms of false pregnancy in cats
  3. My cat has a false pregnancy: What do I do?

What causes false pregnancy in cats?

Pseudopregnancy happens in unaltered female cats ("queens"), usually when they have never given birth before, but it can very occasionally happen in spayed cats. Spayed cats do not go into heat, but it can happen in rare cases when the procedure is not done perfectly.

The causes of false pregnancy in cats are hormonal: when a female is in heat and mates, ovulation is induced and the uterus produces a cyst called the corpus luteum. If fertilization does not occur, this cyst tends to disappear.

However, the corpus luteum may remain and activate the mechanisms of pregnancy, among we can find the production of progesterone. Cats and other mammals - including humans - produce progesterone to prepare the body to carry, develop and maintain offspring. This hormone is released in the weeks following heat, and it is capable of acting by itself, fooling the cat's organism into thinking and acting as if it were pregnant and causing it to maintain the corpus luteum.

False Pregnancy in Cats - What causes false pregnancy in cats?

Symptoms of false pregnancy in cats

The production of progesterone means that the symptoms of false pregnancy are practically the same as those of a real gestation, and they are difficult to distinguish. If your cat shows symptoms of being pregnant, take her to the vet for a thorough check-up.

On a physical level, pseudopregnancy is manifested like a real pregnancy:

  • Your cat will gain weight and her abdomen will swell.
  • She will vomit.
  • Her heat cycle will stop.
  • She will produce milk and vaginal flow.
  • In rare cases, her nipples will swell and become pinker, and her mammary glands will become larger.

Behavioral symptoms of false pregnancy are rarer than physical ones, but the following will appear:

  • She will act more affectionate and motherly.
  • Her appetite will be altered.
  • She will be tired and lethargic.
  • She will be more nervous and insecure.
  • She may look to make a kind of shelter or nest to prepare for childbirth.
False Pregnancy in Cats - Symptoms of false pregnancy in cats

My cat has a false pregnancy: What do I do?

Your cat will believe she is pregnant, and you should treat her with extra love and care. She will probably look for your attention, and you should take notice: you will have to be patient, because false pregnancy in cats can last several months.

It is important to take her to a specialist as soon as you detect any of the symptoms of pregnancy, whether she mated with a fertile male or not. The vet will assess the severity of the condition and determine what care is best.

It is rare for pseudopregnant cats to actually produce milk, but if it happens and she is not treated soon the milk can harden and remain in the teat, causing serious problems such as mastitis.

In milder cases, and depending on your vet, the treatment for false pregnancy may be based on administering homoeopathic remedies. Valerian is usually a great solution for anxiety and nerves. If the situation worsens and the symptoms become more severe, a drug treatment will be determined by the veterinarian.

To prevent false pregnancy and reduce the risk of cysts and tumors in the mammary glands it is best to neuter the cat. This procedure will tone down the animal's breeding instincts and improve her quality of life at home.

This article is purely informative. AnimalWised does not have the authority to prescribe any veterinary treatment or create a diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian if they are suffering from any condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to False Pregnancy in Cats, we recommend you visit our Pregnancy problems category.

Write a comment
Add an image
Click to attach a photo related to your comment
What did you think of this article?
1 comment
Pierre St - Martin
Hi, my 10 years cat is a female and she has been sterillize.
Since more than 3 weeks her belly is quite larger than before which is quite strange. She had difficulty to walk and to climb the stairs but she did not lose appetite. However, the doctor I met yesterday told me that her belly was full of a white liquid (even surronding her lungs...) and said to me that she need to make an analysis of this liquid because she think that my cat got a cancer for which I asked her what had cause this cancer ? Is there a treatment for this cancer if it's really a cancer ? Do you have any idea what cause this belly fill with this white liquid ? Thanks, Pierre
Administrador AnimalWised
Hi Pierre,

We cannot advise on this situation. You must be understandably worried, but the most important thing is to wait for the vet's diagnosis and follow their instructions. We are hoping for the best outcome for you!
1 of 3
False Pregnancy in Cats