A cat may miscarry, or lose a pregnancy, for a variety of reasons, most of them hormonal. Inbred cat lines are at greater risk for spontaneous abortion, as are cats of young or advanced maternal age. If you suspect your cat is pregnant, or are actively breeding her, see a vet for pregnancy confirmation and prenatal advice to ensure a successful outcome.
Causes of a Miscarriage
Your cat may miscarry due to a hormonal imbalance, a genetic abnormality in a fetus, a bacterial infection or another underlying health problem. Cats also can contract a parasite called neospora caninum by sharing food or water bowls with an infected dog. Inherited diseases can put a feline pregnancy at higher risk for miscarriage, as can a susceptibility to FIP, or feline infectious peritonitis. Severe stress, trauma or poor nutrition also can cause a miscarriage.
What to Look For
An early symptom of cat miscarriage is abnormal vaginal bleeding or a bloody vaginal discharge containing pus. Your cat may expel tissue or even fetuses, depending on how far along she is in the pregnancy. She may vomit, have diarrhea, act depressed or lethargic or run a fever. Straining or abdominal discomfort are other signs of miscarriage. If your vet previously confirmed a pregnancy, which is no longer visible on ultrasound, a miscarriage may be suspected. You may not recognize your cat has miscarried right away, particularly if she keeps herself clean, until you see a shrinking of her abdomen or she fails to deliver on time.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Prompt vet attention is advised if you suspect a miscarriage so you can protect against hemorrhage or infection that can result if tissue remains in the uterus. Your vet may conduct a physical exam or ultrasound to determine whether your cat is experiencing or recently suffered a miscarriage. Blood tests can identify pregnancy anomalies and losses. Treatment typically is recommended based on the underlying cause of the miscarriage.
If you don’t intend to professionally and responsibly breed your cat, consider having her spayed to protect against unwanted future pregnancies. If you are intentionally breeding your cat, consult a vet for a checkup prior to mating. Avoid vaccinating your cat while she is pregnant and follow your vet’s advice for healthy feline pregnancy dietary guidelines.
False Pregnancy in Cats
Cats can experience a false pregnancy that mimics many of the physical and emotional symptoms of a viable pregnancy. These include nesting instincts, swollen abdomen, lactation, vomiting or depression. False pregnancies often are induced by hormonal imbalances and require medical attention. Your vet can rule out a uterine infection or hormonal fluctuation and evaluate your cat’s overall health and well-being.