Mother’s Day is around the corner, which made us wonder: Can cats sense pregnancy? It may sound like an old wives’ tale; indeed, there is no reliable scientific evidence to validate this odd sort of sixth sense. However, many a cat mom can offer her own anecdote about how a pet’s behavior changed after she became pregnant. Let’s explore why that might be, and how you can help your cat adjust to your pregnancy.
How can cats sense pregnancy?
They pick up on body language and mood
Even with all their napping, cats are characteristically alert. Some would call them experts at reading body language and mood, especially when it comes to their “preferred” (read: favorite) human. As one of the earliest signs of pregnancy is fatigue, your cat will probably react to the fact that you’re resting more often (hello, cat naps!) and that you’re—understandably—a little moodier or more emotional. Even a slight change in body posture may attract your cat’s attention.
They have an excellent sense of smell
Cats have an even stronger sense of smell than many dog breeds do. As Flo Health explains, “During pregnancy, [a woman] experiences profound changes in her hormonal levels, when her body begins producing more progesterone, estrogen, and human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) hormones. These changes in her hormonal levels can affect her personal scent.”
In fact, this keen sense of smell has shown that sometimes cats sense pregnancy even before women do. For instance, an anecdote featured on The Dodo relays how a woman named Lisa adopted a cat that much preferred her husband’s company over her own—until one day the cat began meowing at her, seeking her affection, and constantly curling up with her as she slept. Days later, Lisa found out she was pregnant.
They seek out warmth
During the first trimester, a woman’s basal body temperature may rise slightly. As cats’ internal body temperature is a toasty 102 degrees Fahrenheit, they have to compensate for greater heat loss than us humans. So, cats tend to seek out heat—especially if it’s radiating from someone with whom they already enjoy cuddling.
Help your cat adjust to your pregnancy
Cats are creatures of habit, so it’s important to give them the same love and attention during your pregnancy. Sometimes when cats sense pregnancy, they may even act more protective toward you. Stick to your regular routine for as long as you can to avoid your cat developing behavioral problems. If a cat feels neglected, he may act aggressively or begin urinating outside of the litter box. If you begin to feel overwhelmed, talk to your partner or enlist a friend’s help to maintain an ideal routine for your cat.
Due to toxoplasmosis concerns, you shouldn’t scoop the litter box while pregnant. If you were primarily the one who cleaned the litter box before and are concerned your cat will negatively react to this, you can hover in the same room as your partner, friend, or child takes over the litter box duties. Or, if you have a self-cleaning Litter-Robot, you don’t need to worry about scooping at all! Just make sure someone else empties the waste drawer when it becomes full.
Before the baby arrives, start acclimating your cat to the idea of a baby in the house: Help him get comfortable with a baby’s crying and other sounds by playing recordings online, and introduce him to a friend’s or family member’s baby if possible.
Finally, when the day comes for you to officially introduce your cat and baby, be calm. Being an astute reader of mood and body language, your cat is more likely to react well to this strange bundle of joy if you remain patient and encouraging. In all likelihood, you’re in for a beautiful relationship—read more about why cats are the best pets for kids!