It’s hard enough being pregnant with all of the changes your body is going through, and now your cat seems to have turned against you, but why is this?
Cats are known to be creatures of consistency. Meaning; that even the smallest of changes around their perceived territory can bring on aggressive behavior attributed to feelings of neglect, fear, and stress. With the only change being the pregnancy, it will be that person who will become a target of contempt.
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While some cats will take a more protective stance over their newly expecting owner, it is not unheard of for your flippant feline to take a strong dislike to you upon your bundle of joy’s conception. It’s this kind of reaction that can cause concern and lead to the misguided ideals that an expecting woman should not spend time around cats.
But why is this the general consensus?
Particularly prominent in cats who have come from less than ideal starts in life, the sudden changes around them can be a cause of stress. Cats are creatures of consistency and as such, do not like anything coming in between their normal routines. It may seem to you that nothing has changed, but to your fluffy companion – who is highly sensitive to even the slightest pheromonal change to their environment – a lot is different.
For example, when there was a time that you would spend your first waking moments giving your loved pet some attention, you have recently developed a bout of strong morning sickness that forces you to shut yourself away in the bathroom.
Unfortunately, your poor companion does not understand the nuances of pregnancy, and as such, sees only that their quality time with you has been reduced.
Feelings of Neglect
With all of the changes and new routines to make sure you’re in top health for the new life you are carrying, your cat could end up feeling pushed aside and forgotten. So for them, they recognize that the only person who has changed is the one woman who is pregnant, therefore attributing their stress and negative feelings toward that target.
This can be especially amplified if this is not the first pregnancy that the cat has been witness to. If this is not your first child, your cat may hold resentment for previous times when they have felt neglected or overlooked in favor of the new baby.
So when your territorial tabby starts to notice those same changes occurring again, it could start leading to aggressive behavior. It is always best, whenever a big change is occurring – such as a new arrival to the home – to keep an eye on any changes in behavior from your beloved fluffball before they are allowed to fester into something potentially damaging and harmful.
As mentioned before, cats are creatures of routine and consistency, so any changes to the world around them could bring on negative behavior due to the stress of the change. They may start to think that their role within the home is beginning to dwindle, or that there isn’t enough attention to go around.
This can manifest in many ways, and can especially start to happen when you begin to bring in new furniture for the baby. These items would not hold the scent of your pet and could trigger damaging territorial behaviors, including lashing out if the owner attempts to remove them.
Cats – as well as many other pets – can be known to get very jealous and territorial over their owners as well as items within the home. So while your hormones are changing and your begin giving off new and unusual pheromones, your cat can sense this and may misunderstand it to be you spending time with another. Leading them to further exhibit aggressive behaviors.
Fear and Stress
Furthermore, whilst most of what we have discussed are the situational causes around your frantic feline, it is not addressing the root cause festering within your four-legged friend. At its core, it is a basic fear and stress response to lash out at what they are perceiving as a negative threat to their current, comfortable way of life.
With the changes in pheromones occurring from the pregnant woman, and as mentioned before, your poor cat sees that as you spending time with another and feeling as if they are potentially being left out. This fear will bring on mild to extreme bouts of stress to your misunderstood mouser and all they understand is that they are upset, scared, and stressed and it is all because of the change in that person.
It is at these times, that attempting to keep pushing contact onto your cat – instead of giving them time to come around on their terms and gently persuading from afar – can push your feline friend into a stressful situation where they feel backed into a corner and have no choice but to fight.
As any mother will tell you, there are multiple stages in your pregnancy where you may become emotional or quite clingy. So it is not unheard of, in these vulnerable times, for us to reach for our favorite creatures of comfort.
Who doesn’t feel better after hearing the relaxing purr of a cat?
However; this increase in petting could also be a trigger factor in why your cat is becoming aggressive. It appears that, unlike their canine alternative, cats each have a threshold to what they will tolerate in regard to petting. This starts with areas where they do or do not like to be pet – most commonly being the head and neck as favorable, and the vulnerable underbelly as a no-go-zone – long pets down a cat’s entire body can be considered uncomfortable to them.
This is because, although cats can be fairly social in grooming each other, take note of how they also tend to keep to the head/neck areas.
This over stimulus can produce what is known as ‘Petting Aggression’ and your cat will react in a way that may even suggest you have hurt them in some way. However, just make sure to watch how your cat reacts, looking out for clear signs such as lowered ears or a flicking tail and stopping before reaching that discomfort threshold.
Pregnancy is a hard time for every woman, and feeling like your beloved companion suddenly hates you, really isn’t comfort to someone preparing to take care of another tiny human. And while any sudden changes in behavior should always be checked with a vet to rule out any underlying illnesses, quite often the reason your loving kitty has suddenly changed their opinion of you is simply that they have noticed the changes within you and are becoming fearful and stressed that it means there will be a disturbance in their once comfortable routine.
But give them the time and the space they need to get used to these new changes and you should see some improvement.
Hello! My name is Stacey and I’m a cat enthusiast from merry old England. I spend my days taking care of a haughty tripod kitty and her plucky nemesis and have trained my tripod to walk at the heel like a dog to join me on shopping journeys.