What Are The Signs Of A Cat Having A Miscarriage?

A miscarriage, or spontaneous abortion, in cats is understandably an emotional and difficult experience for owners. A miscarriage is defined as the spontaneous loss of kittens before full gestational development. Unfortunately, miscarriages are relatively common in cats, with studies estimating rates between 2-35% of pregnancies ending in miscarriage depending on the cat’s health and age.

While the loss of expected kittens can be heartbreaking, cat owners should know that miscarriages usually occur for biological reasons and are rarely the fault of anything the owner did. This article will cover the signs, causes, and treatments for cat miscarriages in a sensitive, reassuring, and fact-based way. The goal is to provide cat owners with the information they need to identify a miscarriage and care for their cat during this difficult time.

Changes in Behavior

One of the first signs that a cat may be having a miscarriage is a change in their typical behavior. A pregnant cat experiencing a miscarriage may suddenly become lethargic, weak, and begin hiding more than usual. She may lose her appetite and seem depressed or not like her normal self.

According to the article “Miscarriage in Cats” on Wagwalking.com, https://wagwalking.com/cat/condition/miscarriage, in later stages of pregnancy a cat having a miscarriage may still demonstrate maternal behaviors like crying, pacing while looking for kittens, and even lactating despite the loss of kittens. These behavioral changes are a strong indicator that a miscarriage may be occurring.

Pet owners should monitor their pregnant cat closely near the end of a pregnancy for any unusual behavioral changes like lethargy, weakness, loss of appetite, hiding more than normal, depression, or signs of maternal behaviors without kittens being born. These types of changes in behavior may signify a miscarriage in cats.

Vaginal Discharge or Bleeding

One common sign of miscarriage in cats is abnormal vaginal discharge or bleeding. This may include bloody discharge from the vulva or other abnormal bleeding (VCahospitals.com). The discharge may be brown, green, black, or pus-colored (WagWalking.com).

Cats who miscarry often experience bloody vaginal discharge and visible passing of fetal tissue. There may be visible straining and discomfort as the cat delivers the fetuses (PetMD).

Signs of vaginal discharge or bleeding can occur at any stage of pregnancy. Pet owners should monitor their pregnant cat for any abnormal vaginal discharge or bleeding and contact their veterinarian if noted (WagWalking.com).

Delivery of Fetal Tissue

One of the clearest signs of a cat miscarrying is the passing of fetal remains and placenta. According to the VCA Hospitals article https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/miscarriage-in-cats, cat owners may notice the delivery of “blackened, partially formed, or decomposing kittens.” The fetal remains may be expulsed partially or fully. Along with the fetal tissue, the cat may also pass the placenta. Cats generally eat the placenta after giving birth, but in the case of a miscarriage, they often leave it behind. Owners can examine any expelled tissue to identify fetal remains or placenta.

According to the Canna-Pet article https://canna-pet.com/articles/what-does-a-cat-miscarriage-look-like/, some signs of fetal tissue delivery are “a bloody vaginal discharge, especially if it contains pus, tissue, or a fetus.” Owners should look for any expelled tissue or abnormal discharge to identify if a miscarriage has occurred.

Lack of Weight Gain

If a cat is pregnant, she should gain a noticeable amount of weight as the pregnancy progresses. According to research, pregnant cats typically gain 12-38% of their pre-pregnancy body weight by the time they give birth (Kustritz, 2006). This equates to around 2-4 pounds for the average adult cat.

Cats gain weight gradually throughout pregnancy as the kittens grow and develop. A lack of appropriate weight gain can signal pregnancy complications or impending miscarriage. It’s recommended to monitor your cat’s weight weekly during pregnancy. If your cat is not gaining an adequate amount of weight or is losing weight, contact your veterinarian.

Some key weight gain patterns to look for include (Summit, 2018):

  • 0.5 lbs gain per week during weeks 3-5 of pregnancy
  • 1 lb gain per week during weeks 6-9 of pregnancy

Tracking your cat’s weight during pregnancy and looking for healthy weight gain is one way to monitor the health of the kittens. Consult your veterinarian if your pregnant cat does not seem to be gaining an appropriate amount of weight for her stage of pregnancy.

Nesting Behaviors

Cats who are pregnant will often exhibit nesting behaviors in preparation for giving birth. These behaviors include searching for secluded and protected areas, gathering soft materials, digging/scratching, and vocalizing. If your cat begins nesting but then miscarries, she may continue these behaviors for some time afterwards as her maternal instincts take over [1].

Attempts to nest, even after a miscarriage, indicate that your cat still believes she is pregnant or has given birth. The nesting behaviors are triggered by hormonal changes, which take time to dissipate after the end of a pregnancy. Your cat may pace while crying, desperately searching for kittens that don’t exist. This is a normal reaction as her mothering instincts activate. Be patient and try to comfort your cat during this difficult transition.

If nesting continues for more than a few days after the miscarriage, speak to your veterinarian. They can provide advice tailored to your cat’s specific situation. With time and care, the drive to nest should subside as her body rebalances hormonally. Just be watchful of any concerning behaviors like lack of appetite, lethargy, or aggression. If you have any worries, don’t hesitate to call your vet.


One sign that a cat has experienced a miscarriage is lactation, which is the production of milk. Even though no live kittens were delivered, the cat’s mammary glands may still enlarge and she may start producing milk (VCA Hospitals). This is because the cat’s body is responding to the drop in progesterone levels that occurs at the end of pregnancy. The hormones trigger the mammary glands to prepare to feed kittens, even if there are no kittens present.

Lactation and enlargement of the mammary glands can occur within 24-48 hours of the miscarriage. The cat may appear restless and seem to be searching for kittens. She may cry out or meow frequently. The mammary glands themselves may become engorged and even leak milk if the cat is not relieved of the pressure by nursing kittens. This can be confusing and concerning for the cat owner if they were not aware the cat was pregnant.

When to See the Vet

Any signs of a miscarriage warrant a visit to the veterinarian, even if the cat seems fine otherwise. A vet can confirm whether a miscarriage occurred and rule out any complications. According to VCA Hospitals, cats who have a miscarriage are at risk for potentially life-threatening uterine infections. The vet will likely perform an ultrasound and bloodwork to check for infection.

Signs that require immediate veterinary treatment include (VCA Hospitals):

  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vaginal discharge that is foul-smelling, contains pus, or is green/brown in color

These are indicators of a uterine infection that requires prompt antibiotic treatment and possibly intravenous fluids. Without treatment, sepsis can develop rapidly, so it is crucial to see the vet at the first signs of infection.

Caring for a Cat After Miscarriage

Caring for a cat after a miscarriage involves providing comfort, monitoring health, supporting emotional needs, and ensuring good nutrition. The grieving process is also important to consider.

To provide comfort, make sure your cat has a quiet, cozy place to rest and recover. Soft bedding, warm blankets, and access to food and litter nearby can help. Gently petting or brushing your cat may also provide comfort. Monitor your cat’s health by taking note of energy levels, appetite, and any concerning symptoms like lethargy or diarrhea. Contact your veterinarian if you have any concerns.

Cats grieve after a miscarriage, so providing emotional support is important. Give your cat space when needed, but also spend time giving affection and reassurance. Consider using calming pheromone diffusers or treats made with ingredients like tryptophan or L-theanine. Ensure your cat continues to eat a nutritionally-balanced diet, even if their appetite decreases at first. Feed smaller, frequent meals and use tasty food toppings if needed.

Understand that your cat may grieve the lost kittens. Be patient and allow them to work through the grieving process. With time, support, and care, most cats bounce back after a miscarriage. But don’t hesitate to consult your vet if you have ongoing concerns about your cat’s physical or emotional health.

Preventing Miscarriages

There are several steps cat owners can take to help prevent miscarriages in cats during pregnancy:

Proper prenatal and pregnancy care is crucial. Get regular vet checkups to monitor the health of the mother cat and kittens. Make sure the mother cat is up-to-date on vaccines and parasite prevention before breeding (VCA Hospitals). Provide excellent nutrition with high quality kitten food and prenatal vitamins as recommended by your veterinarian.

Address any underlying health conditions in the mother cat before breeding. Illnesses like feline leukemia virus or feline immunodeficiency virus can increase the risk of miscarriage (Purina). Other conditions like obesity and dental disease should also be treated.

Limit stress during pregnancy as much as possible. Set up a quiet, comfortable nesting area and limit loud noises or other animals that may be stressful. Reduce stress by keeping the mother cat’s routine consistent with regular meal times and play time (WagWalking).

Provide ideal conditions for pregnancy. The mother cat should be kept indoors in a temperature-controlled environment. Make sure she has easy access to food, water, litter boxes, and her nesting area at all times.

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