Cat Pregnancy Tests Exist, but Should You Use One?
If your catch your cat on her way back from a rendezvous with a tomcat outside, you're probably wondering if there's a litter of kittens in your future. If your cat has not been spayed and is in heat, it's possible she could become pregnant. And while there are ways to tell whether your cat is pregnant, those signs might not show up until she's two or three weeks from her due date.
Fortunately, there is such a thing as a cat pregnancy test, and it is an option if you think your cat may have been around a male cat while she was in heat. However, the cat pregnancy test isn't as simple as the human version. You'll have to go to your veterinarian to get the test, where they'll draw your cat's blood to see if pregnancy hormones are present.
How Does a Cat Pregnancy Test Work?
The blood test at the vet's office will determine whether a hormone called relaxin—aptly named because it relaxes the cervix to make it easier to deliver kittens—resides in your cat's blood, says Margot Vahrenwald, DVM and owner of Park Hill Veterinary Medical Center in Denver, Colo. If so, she's pregnant and you need to prepare for kittens. Cat pregnancy tests can be done quickly, are accurate, and take about 30 minutes.
Unfortunately, a cat pregnancy test won't detect the relaxin until 20-25 days after insemination. And if you're going to wait, you might want to consider holding off on the test until your cat might be a few weeks from her giving birth, when it's easier to tell if she's pregnant without having to draw blood.
The cost of a cat pregnancy test can also be prohibitive. Vahrenwald says the relaxin test will cost owners about $200–$250.
"They're not typically reasonable or feasible for owners to do," she says.
She says it costs less if you determine pregnancy by watching for weight gain or behavior changes, though she recommends spaying your cat to prevent pregnancy altogether.
Will a Human Pregnancy Test Work on a Cat?
No, you can't get your cat to pee on the stick. A human pregnancy test won't indicate whether kittens are on the way. Those tests are calibrated to humans, and you need a species-specific test for your cat, Vahrenwald says.
Researchers, however, are working on a way to build an at-home cat pregnancy test that uses urine, similar to the human version that can be picked up in a drugstore. But until that point, testing to see if your cat is pregnant will require a blood draw, so you'll need your veterinarian. There aren't any over-the-counter test kits for you to use.
If you suspect your cat is pregnant, Vahrenwald recommends discussing your test options with your vet. Even better: Consider having her spayed before she gets pregnant. An unspayed cat can become pregnancy multiple times each year during her adult life, so the spaying procedure can help prevent cat overpopulation.
Spayed cats often live longer and experience fewer health and behavior issues that cats left intact, too.