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What is False Pregnancy?

False pregnancies in cats are rare. The only way to determine if a cat is pregnant or is experiencing a false pregnancy is to visit the veterinarian. Because false pregnancies can sometimes mimic serious conditions, it's important to see the veterinarian right away if pregnancy symptoms are displayed by a cat who wasn't around a male cat during her heat cycle.

A false pregnancy, also known as a phantom pregnancy, pseudocyesis, or pseudopregnancy, occurs when a fully matured female cat displays all of the signs and symptoms of pregnancy without actually being pregnant. False pregnancy typically occurs between six to 12 weeks after the cat has been in estrus, also known as “heat”. False pregnancy does not affect a cat's future ability to breed in subsequent pregnancies.

False Pregnancy Average Cost

From 349 quotes ranging from $100 - $500

Average Cost

$150

Symptoms of False Pregnancy in Cats

Symptoms appear six to 12 weeks after the cat has been in heat and may continue for several months after a false pregnancy has been diagnosed. These symptoms include:

  • Enlarged mammary glands
  • Brown-tinged fluid or water secretion from the mammary glands
  • Self-nursing
  • Pink nipples
  • Displaying nesting behaviors, such as using blankets and papers to make a nest
  • Mothering inanimate objects, such as toys, stuffed animals and shoes
  • Behavioral changes, such as being extremely affectionate, depressed or guarded
  • Swollen abdomen
  • Vomiting
  • Weight gain
  • Mucoid vaginal discharge
  • Loss of appetite
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Causes of False Pregnancy in Cats

The exact cause of false pregnancy is unknown. Hormonal imbalances of the hormones prolactin and progesterone are thought to play a role in its development. During the cat's heat cycle, if she is bred with an infertile male cat, her body will ovulate and produce a corpus luteum. It is believed that once the corpus luteum is produced, the cat's body can no longer distinguish between a real and false pregnancy. Other conditions can cause the same symptoms as a false pregnancy in cats and will need to be ruled out by a veterinarian. These conditions include:

  • Removal of the ovaries and uterus (ovariohysterectomy)
  • Cancer of the mammary gland
  • Infection of the uterus
  • Hypothyroidism
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Diagnosis of False Pregnancy in Cats

The veterinarian will need to know the cat's complete health history, the dates of the cat's previous heat cycle, when symptoms first began and the nature of the symptoms. The veterinarian will examine the cat and look for swollen mammary glands and signs of nipple discharge, and will feel the abdomen for the presence of kittens.

Blood tests and labs, such as a complete blood count, biochemical profile, thyroid function tests and a urinalysis will be done. These tests will look for symptoms of more serious conditions that could be causing the symptoms, such as hypothyroidism. A false pregnancy should present with labs that are normal. An abdominal ultrasound or x-ray may also be done. These tests can look for fluid accumulation in the abdomen or uterus, detect a true pregnancy, determine if a uterine infection is present and look for organ enlargement.

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Treatment of False Pregnancy in Cats

No treatment is necessary if this is the first false pregnancy that the cat has experienced. Signs and symptoms typically go away within two to three weeks but can last several months. If the cat has experienced recurrent false pregnancies, the veterinarian may recommend the following treatment options:

Hormonal Supplementation

More than one false pregnancy is indicative of a hormonal imbalance. Hormonal supplements can be prescribed by the veterinarian to correct these imbalances and prevent future false pregnancies from occurring.

Surgery

An ovariohysterectomy may be recommended for recurrent false pregnancies. During an ovariohysterectomy, the veterinarian will remove both ovaries and the uterus from the cat. This is done while the cat is under general anesthesia. The veterinarian will make a small incision into the abdominal wall. The two ovaries are tied off and removed along with the uterus. The cat's incision will then be closed with sutures.

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Recovery of False Pregnancy in Cats

Cats who have begun to lactate or have swollen mammary glands should have cold or warm compresses placed on their glands. The compress will help to reduce these secretions. An Elizabethan cone, or “e-collar”, may need to be worn in order to prevent the cat from licking or self-nursing, which will cause lactation to occur. Under the veterinarian's advice, food may also need to be reduced to prevent or stop lactation from occurring. It's important to never remove the milk from the cat, as this will continue lactation rather than ending it.

Cats who have an underlying condition that caused the false pregnancy symptoms will need to follow-up with the veterinarian for additional care. Hormonal supplements will also need to be monitored. If the cat had an ovariohysterectomy, an Elizabethan cone will need to be worn to prevent the cat from licking or biting its sutures.

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False Pregnancy Average Cost

From 349 quotes ranging from $100 - $500

Average Cost

$150

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False Pregnancy Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

dog-name-icon

Harley

dog-breed-icon

Cat

dog-age-icon

2 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Bleeding

My cat is pregnant amd she is due any day. this morning she was bleeding a little bit and I thought she was going into labor but it is night now and still no kittens is this normal?

July 21, 2018

Harley's Owner

answer-icon

recommendation-ribbon

3320 Recommendations

Cats generally have an uneventful queening but some bleeding and a drop in body temperature may occur in the 24 hours leading up to queening; I would keep a close eye on her for the time being and visit your Veterinarian if there are no kittens or if she is showing any signs of distress. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

July 21, 2018

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Martha

dog-breed-icon

Ginger short hair

dog-age-icon

2 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Appetite

My 2 year old female cat Martha has started staying away and sleeping in next door neighbours back garden. If I go and fetch her she is frantic to go back next door again, She has been off her food and seems reluctant to come home. Next door do have a male cat and I was wondering whether Martha is going through a phantom pregnancy.She was spayed when she was 7 months old.

July 18, 2018

Martha's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

It is hard to say why she wants to be in that garden as much as she does, but if she isn't eating, and isn't getting fed next door, it might be a good idea to have her examined by a veterinarian to make sure that nothing more serious is going on with her.

July 18, 2018

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Missy

dog-breed-icon

short haired

dog-age-icon

2 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

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2 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Mammary Gland Swelling

My cat is most definitely having a phantom pregnancy and her boobies are huge full with milk will they just go naturally or is there something I should do thanks

July 8, 2018

Missy's Owner


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3320 Recommendations

Phantom or false pregnancy is rare (in comparison to dogs), however symptoms normally will self resolve within ten days or so; keep an eye on her for signs of resolution of symptoms. If there is no improvement within two weeks you should visit your Veterinarian for an examination to be on the safe side as there are many underlying conditions which may cause hormonal imbalances. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

July 9, 2018

Thanks for you advise I will take her to our local vet if there is no improvment

July 9, 2018

Missy's Owner

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Kia

dog-breed-icon

Siamese

dog-age-icon

6 Months

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

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1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Heat
False Pregnancy

Hello! We went to a vacation and left our cat with some friends and she has to cats (males) and my friend realized my cat was in heat so took her cats outside and left my cat inside a few days later they went to a meeting and when they got back they found the 2 male cats inside with my cat, so we thought she was pregnant and she started showing signs that she was pregnant so after about 1 Month of thinking she was pregnant a few days ago she started acting like she was in heat (rubbing against things, putting her butt in the air etc) what could possibly happened?

June 23, 2018

Kia's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

Kia may be pregnant, as the hormonal changes that happen with pregnancy can make them act like they are in heat. It is also possible that she is not pregnant. Cats are typically pregnant for about 60 days, and it might be a good idea to keep Kia inside and away from male cats until you are sure.

June 23, 2018

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Wispa

dog-breed-icon

Birman

dog-age-icon

Four Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Weight Gain
No Season
Hiding Away
Behaviour Changes
No Swollen Nipples

Hi i have a four year old birman female she snuck out 7 weeks ago before this she had seen the vet who said she was in her prime not one ounce of fat on her all muscle was his words,she began getting fatter and had 2 occasions of vomiting water nothing else seemed well .her personality has changed completley shes gone from being a gung ho ninja cat swinging off the doors to eating everything hiding away and wanting to be cuddled by me or snuggled up to the dogs previously she hated me ,in a more obscure event shes begun attacking our 1 year old when she crys not just a smack but a unrelenting continous attack so i have to lift her off my child she shows no aggresion to anyone else,she hasnt come into season and just had a few vovalisations shes so big now her sides stick out and shes waddling and feeling her tummy it isnt soft and very bumpy its not fat everything points to a pregnancy but heres the thing her nipples are not swollen, some hair is gone from around them or flattened making them slightly more obvious in her fluffy fur however they are small and white i dont know what to make of it under her fur something physical has happened to her tummy i dont feel movement but i do feel lots of lumps what could easily be little paws and im afraid to pick her up now as i ahve to support the belly shes a small cat so im guessing if shes pregnant its only a few but im worried we have a tom that we got in october same breed and he is massive we have seen them mating 3-4 times but hes suppose to be neutered i looked it up and i know its unusual if hes neutered he was a breeding cat but had cowhock kegs so the breeder had him neutered supposidly my worry is he is the size of a cavalier dog so with my girl being small is she in trouble? and is she infact pregnant

June 1, 2018

Wispa's Owner

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recommendation-ribbon

3320 Recommendations

Without examining Wispa I cannot say whether or not she is pregnant or if she has another conditions like false pregnancy (rare in cats) or a hormonal condition (may cause fat accumulation in the abdomen). You should visit your Veterinarian regardless for an examination to determine whether Wipsa is pregnant or if there is another cause for these symptoms. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

June 2, 2018

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Lulu

dog-breed-icon

European short hair mix

dog-age-icon

6 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Increased Thirst
Increased Heart Rate
Enlarged Nipples
Bigger Belly
Mothering Toys
Heat?

So, I thought my almost 6 year old cat was pregnany, since I caught our "new" male cat try to mate with her about two months ago while she was in heat. The male is just a year old and inexperienced in regards to mating, by the way. A few weeks after, I noticed her belly starting to grow, she would eat more wet food (when she's usually more into dry food and barely finishes her wet food portions) and started getting really affectionate towards me. Again, she is usually a pretty independent kitty that doesn't like to be touched or carried unless it's on her terms, like when she's hungry or sleepy (or in heat), so that was a big deal. Since last week, she started to get really clingy, to the point that she would only lie/sit down when I was next to her or actively seek me out to sit/sleep beside me and vocally complain when I got up, then immediately follow me to wherever I went and be restless/meow at me until I returned to sit with her. Her belly was still growing so I was fairly certain at that point that she was pregnant, what with the belly, bigger nipples, increase in appetite and the behavioral changes that were pretty major. So I made her up a nesting box, as her due date would be pretty close if she did conceive around the time I caught the male trying to go at it with her. Her belly is big but not huge, so I figured I miscalculated and they had to have already mated before I caught them doing it. Then, yesterday, she starts to always grab a certain fuzzy toy of hers and bring it along to where I was when she came to sit with me. I thought she wanted to play first (she sometimes bring the toys back to me when I throw them or brings it for me to throw it to her on the first place), but she doesn't run after it straight away, she just gets up after a few minutes and retrieves it while making those trilly meowing sounds. Also, she could never stand the male (not counting when she's in heat, because her will is gone then), would always growl and hiss at him and swat if he came too close, but yesterday she suddenly approached him and even let him groom her for the first time ever, and do what I'm guessing is a display of dominance by nipping at her in between. He may have tried to playfight with her too but since he's already way bigger than her (she's pretty small for a 6 year old), I kept an eye on them and separated them when I felt he got too aggressive/rough. Keep in mind, she's been a single indoor cat since I got her at 9 weeks, and he was only separated from his rambunctious brother at lile 3 months when we got him, so he's more used to play/fights than she is. She was making weird noises all throughout these few weeks of what I thought was pregnancy, but yesterday and today she was definitely making the extended trilling meows and "singing" she does when she's in heat, just sounding a bit half-hearted? And at one point the male bit her neck and tried to get on top of her again. I was supremely confused first, but a quick google search showed that pregnant cats don't go into heat(?) and that while it might be possible that the inexperienced male is confusing her pregnancy pheromones for estrus pheromones, if she isn't doing any lactating or nesting/looking for a place to have her kittens, which she isn't, in addition to the toy mothering and renewed heat symptoms, I am thinking it might be a fake pregnancy. Any opinions on this or a sure way to know, aside from waiting or taking her to the vet? Can a pregnant cat be in heat? It's been about 8 weeks since that day of potential conception, so shouldn't she be nesting/lactating by now? And I know it depends on the number of kittens, but I feel like her belly should be bigger than it is, too. It's her first litter though, so it might just be because she'd only be having few kittens. Any help or pointers for certainty are appreciated.

dog-name-icon

Peanut

dog-breed-icon

Persian

dog-age-icon

2 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Nipple Pink Gained Weight Eating

Hy.... My cat was on heat and got mated 20 days ago..... I dont know she got pregnant or not...but her nipples seems to be more pink after 15 days of mating....and she seems to gain weight too and stared eating more than before.... And today she is on heat again and started mating... I dont know what's happening.... Plzzz anyone tell me what is this going on???

dog-name-icon

Fiona

dog-breed-icon

Orange tabby

dog-age-icon

9 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Aggressive, Attachment

Fiona is roughly nine years old and she had a small litter around 7 years ago. She shows the same behavior as getting ready to give birth. She follows me around the house meowing and wants me to follow her into the closet. Once she's there she calms down for a bit. And she's overly aggressive towards one dog, the bigger of the two. This behavior shows up maybe every few years for a few days. You have to keep her separated because she will aggressively attack the larger dog. Physically there are no changes.

dog-name-icon

Rose

dog-breed-icon

Calico

dog-age-icon

1 Year

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Pink Nipples

I have allot of questions that come to my concern. See, I'm only 12 but I really need an awnser! So my cat (Rose) she is a year old now and she mated with a older cat and After her mating we looked at the symptoms to see if she was pregnant but it turns out she just has a few of the symptoms. We don't know if she's pregnant or not, but if she is then okay. But she has Pink nipples, no discharge that I know of, she eats normally, no morning sickness, but she hasn't got her shots, or work shot, we don't know if she's sick, pregnant we need an awnser!

dog-name-icon

Fatou

dog-breed-icon

Cat

dog-age-icon

1 Year

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Vaginal Discharge
Contractions
Phantom Pregnancy

Cat acted like she was in labor. Was very wet at her behind. Was having contractions and pushing. She was having pinkish brownish color discharge too. Went to bed thinking we would have kittens and woke up to no kittens and my cat was acting normal again. Could this be a phantom pregnancy?

False Pregnancy Average Cost

From 349 quotes ranging from $100 - $500

Average Cost

$150