Spontaneous Abortion and Termination of Pregnancy in Cats

By PetMD Editorial on Feb. 10, 2009

Unintentional and unwanted pregnancy in pets is a common concern, and there are ways to perform a safe pregnancy termination if your cat has become pregnant. If you are considering ending a pregnancy in your cat, it is recommended that you first seek the advice and assistance of a medical professional, so that a full risk and side effects evaluation can be done.

Conversely, it is also important to note that cats can experience spontaneous abortions or miscarriages for a variety of medical reasons. Both situations will be covered here.

Symptoms and Types

If your cat has experienced a spontaneous abortion, the most common thing you may notice is abnormal vaginal bleeding; in some cases an expelled fetus may be found. The most common cause of a spontaneous abortion is fetal death due to a hormonal imbalance.

In the case of a planned abortion, bleeding is the most common symptom following the procedure. You will need to closely monitor your cat so that any side effects or health related issues can be responded to quickly.


If you suspect that your cat is pregnant, your veterinarian can perform an examination by ultrasound to confirm or rule it out. Confirmation of the presence of a fetus is usually necessary before many health care providers will agree to perform a medical abortion. Doppler-type instruments can also be used to hear a fetus' heartbeat if the pregnancy is far enough along.


For owners looking for safe options, either to prevent an unwanted pregnancy or to terminate a possible pregnancy, there are several medical alternatives to consider. To permanently prevent pregnancy in your cat, spaying (ovariohysterectomy) is the best option. For pregnancy termination, these are the most common medical options:

Injectable Estrogens- A medical professional can administer these to prevent a pregnancy from progressing. The estrogen must be injected shortly following copulation to be effective. However, there are several potential side effects to take into consideration, including bone marrow suppression and pyometra (i.e., infection of the uterus).

Oral Estrogens - These are not usually recommended because they are ineffective and may cause pyometra in animals.

Prostaglandin F2 alpha - This is a natural hormone that has been shown to induce a safe abortion for cats when monitored by a health professional. Most side effects are often mild, if present at all. Some of the drug's known side effects include panting, trembling, nausea and diarrhea.

Dexamethasone - This is also a viable option to induce an abortion for pets. The injection is usually followed by side effects, such as panting, excessive drinking (polydispia) and urination (polyuria).

Living and Management

It is important to note that despite the myths surrounding the method, post-coital douches do not effectively terminate an unwanted pregnancy in a cat.

Following either a planned or spontaneous abortion, there can be a great deal of discomfort and/or some vaginal bleeding or abnormal discharge. You will need to carefully observe the behavior of your cat to ensure that more serious problems do not develop as a result.

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