The first reported “dogs predicting earthquakes” scenario traces back to 373 B.C., and sharks may one-day help scientists detect tropical storms brewing in the Atlantic or Gulf waters. But a cat’s “sixth sense” is far more intuitive and thoughtful than their usually aloof nature — Fluffy can tell that you’re pregnant. Now, let’s demystify this: do cats get clingy when you’re pregnant?
Cats can get clingy when you are pregnant because they sense pheromone changes, extra heat radiating from your body, and less physical activity within the household. These common pregnancy changes turn you into a warm, comforting, and long-term “bed” to kitties enjoying affectionate snuggles.
Welcoming a tiny bundle of joy into your (two-legged) family is exciting and life-changing, but knowing how your fluff ball will react to this upcoming “big news” can help the entire crew adjust smoothly. To learn about whether cats get clingy when you’re pregnant, read on!
Can Cats Sense When You’re Pregnant?
The jury is still out on the scientific details linking feline senses to pregnancy detection in humans, but anecdotally, the answer is a resounding “yes.” Cats can sense that you’re pregnant based on the changes that occur over those ankle-swelling, crampy, and tiresome 40 weeks.
There are three “theories” to explain this possible sixth sense:
It’s no surprise that the female body undergoes hormonal changes early on in the first trimester while your body and womb prepare for the growing human inside of you. A six-hormone concoction begins brewing at record-speeds during those first ten weeks and until birth, like:
- HCG (Human Chorionic Gonadotropin): It tells the brain to stop releasing eggs (ovulating) as the placenta forms in the uterus.
- Progesterone: It allows the uterus to grow as the baby forms.
- Estrogen: It improves blood flow to the uterus and plays a vital role in fetal development.
- Relaxin: It loosens the pelvic ligaments and widens the cervix for a smoother birth experience in nine months.
- Oxytocin: It encourages the body to produce milk and “nest” before your new bundle of joy makes her grand entrance.
- Prolactin: It leads to milk production and lactation to feed a newborn baby.
Cats have ultra-sensitive noses with up to 200 million olfactory receptors (about 40 times stronger than humans). These intriguing critters also have a unique organ wedged between the nasal cavity and the mouth’s roof called Jacobson’s organ.
This combination allows cats to do the unimaginable: both smell and taste the pheromone (or hormonal) changes that occur during pregnancy, just like they can detect which neighborhood cat visited their “territory” by sniffing their urine trails.
Your unique scent is noticeably different to Fluffy, even if you’re still spritzing the same perfume.
Cats seem instinctually distant and like “lone wolves” more often than not, but these aloof creatures are actually keen observers in disguise. That semi-distant and affectionate fluff ball notices that you’re spending more time in bed or snuggling on the couch instead of your usual morning routine — jogging on the treadmill and cleaning the kitchen countertops.
Fluffy also picks up on those early morning bathroom trips (morning sickness), new dinner and snack menus, and changes to her daily routine (less playtime, later breakfasts, etc.), but the species can also sense an ever-so-slight radiating warmth. That’s because pregnancy raises your basal temperature to about 99.0°F (37.2°C), thanks to greater blood flow and wider blood vessels.
Even if your kitty doesn’t know why you’re dry-heaving into the toilet at 7 a.m., munching on candy instead of a cold cut sandwich, or cozier than usual, she’ll notice something isn’t right.
When you shout your cat’s name without a response, you offer Fluffy some leeway. Maybe cats don’t have the sharpest hearing, or she didn’t hear you from the living room. However, in reality, those perky, swiveling feline ears are ultra-sensitive to noises far outside of the average human hearing range (yes, she might be intentionally ignoring you).
A fetus develops a heartbeat around five or six weeks post-conception, though you normally won’t hear it unless you’re hooked up to a stethoscope or fetal doppler. Fluffy’s exquisite hearing might identify that faint heartbeat as she snuggles on your belly as you watch TV. However, if cats can hear an unborn baby’s heartbeat, it’ll be closer to the third trimester.
Why Cats Get Clingy When You’re Pregnant
Cats can absolutely get clingy once they realize you’re pregnant, but more emotional kitties may respond with jealousy, frustration, or anxiety instead. If your kitty seems extra cuddly (or attached at your hip) while you’re carrying her new two-legged brother or sister, this newfound behavior can stem from:
More Body Heat
Cats have three criteria for the perfect afternoon nap haven: safety, comfort, and warmth (just like cozying up to mom during kittenhood). It won’t be long until Fluffy realizes that you’re radiating far more heat than only a few months ago, even if the hot flashes and pregnancy “glow” are uncomfortably warm for you.
That newly affectionate kitty can’t get enough of her two-legged heat lamp (AKA: you), which explains the whirlwind clinginess and prolonged couch cuddle sessions.
Less Physical Activity
Cats can be stereotypically lazy, distant, and fickle critters, though this depends on how tight a ship you run. When you’re pregnant, you and Fluffy share an unexpected bond: a newfound love for sleep!
Cats often nap up to 20 hours per day, and pregnant women might sleep for ten hours a night (plus daily naps) as their bodies adjust to this growing being and hormonal rush. This combination permits a sleep schedule overlap and a stronger bond between you two.
A New Scent (Pheromones)
Cats are very skilled at picking up on changes that normally fly under your radar. When your curious cat notices that you’re emitting unusual pheromones, it’ll pique her interest and leave her desperate to remedy the situation (translation: mixing her pheromones with yours to update the household scent).
Don’t be surprised if Fluffy weaves between your legs, bunts your outstretched arm, or follows you around the house as she attempts to “mark” you as her favorite human again.
Staying Safe as a Pregnant Cat Owner
That ultra-snuggly kitty is a life-saver when pregnancy exhausts you both physically and emotionally. For a smooth 40-week pregnancy that doesn’t harm you, your kitty, or your unborn baby, here are a few tips for staying safe:
- Invest in an automatic litter scooper or hand this responsibility over to another family member (cat feces can carry the dangerous toxoplasmosis parasite).
- Use clumping and track-free litter that won’t get lodged in your kitty’s paws or track fecal residue across the house and onto the furniture.
- Be careful about letting a full-size cat sleep on your belly.
- Wear gloves when scooping dirty cat litter (and don’t forget to wash your hands after).
The moment female cat owners receive that positive pregnancy test, they hear the “don’t change the cat litter” warning. The video below explains this toxoplasmosis risk during pregnancy:
Cats can detect distinct pheromone changes, slightly increased body heat, and growing fatigue before you even think to buy an at-home pregnancy test. However, that doesn’t mean your intuitive kitty can connect the dots — that the bassinet and newborn will be arriving in nine months.
To prepare Fluffy for this upcoming change:
- Gradually move the litter box, food bowls, and scratching posts away from the nursery in the months leading up to your due date.
- Keep your kitty to a rigid schedule to provide comfort during an otherwise stressful time.
- Allow your routine-oriented cat time to adjust.
- AKC: Can Dogs Predict Earthquakes?
- CBS News: Sharks could one day help scientists predict tropical storms
- ASPCA: Cats and Babies
- Healthline: Can Cats Sense Pregnancy? Research Says Maybe
- VCA Hospitals: Why Cats Sniff Rear Ends
- North Florida Women’s Care Obstetrics & Gynecology: Body Temperature During Pregnancy
- Smithsonian Magazine: Cats May Recognize Their Own Names—but It Doesn’t Mean They Care
- The Humane Society of the United States: Pregnancy and toxoplasmosis