If you want your cat to start breeding and have kittens or want to avoid its pregnancy, it is good to be well informed. So, when do cats get pregnant?
When female cats reach puberty, they enter their reproductive cycle around six months old. Sometimes it could be as young as four months old. The reproductive cycle of a cat repeats every two to three weeks, year-round.
Female cats’ reproductive cycles are commonly known as “heat cycles,” and they share many similarities with women’s menstrual cycles.
However, being in heat for a female cat does not mean ovulation has started. With cats, induced ovulation happens, which means that the ovulation starts when mating with a male cat.
Female cats can go into heat almost twice a month all year, meaning they can be in heat for twenty weeks of a year. The heat cycle would repeat itself until the cat gets pregnant.
A cat’s pregnancy can happen as early as the first heat cycle when four months old. Cats do not experience anything like menopause, so they can keep getting their heat cycle well into their senior years.
Female cats will continue to get a heat cycle until they have mated and become pregnant. The process lasts between 7 to 10 days and could end up in three different ways:
- The female cat mates and gets pregnant. This doesn’t mean the cat will never get another heat cycle. Female cats continue to come on heat about 8 or 9 weeks after the kittens stop nursing.
- Despite not being pregnant, the cat exhibits pregnancy symptoms. A “”false”” pregnancy. When this happens, the heat cycle takes longer to come back, about 4 to 6 weeks later than the average 2 to 3 weeks.
- The cat does not mate, the heat cycle comes back every couple of weeks until the female cat gets pregnant or the breeding season ends.
The breeding season for a cat starts in March and can go through most of December. Sometimes it begins as early as February.
How Do I Know My Cat Is In Heat?
There are many ways you could tell your cat is in heat. These signs are mainly mood changes.
Cats can become louder, and the sound they make can sometimes be confused with an expression of pain. These new sounds they make are called yowl, which is considerably noisier than the cat’s normal meow.
Your cat would be friendlier to you, other people, and other cats. A cat will rub against you during heat and between your legs. They would pay more attention to the act of licking their genitals.
Heat cycles come with annoying behavioral issues; not all is about sweetness from your cat. A cat in heat will often show less appetite, spray urine on walls and elsewhere, and show an insistence on going outside to find a cat to mate with.
There is a rare occasion that a cat turns more aggressive during a heat cycle. Others can be quiet and will not show any of the usual signs.
How Do I Know My Cat Is Pregnant?
Pet owners can sometimes tell by petting their cat’s belly. Still, a veterinarian visit is a more accurate way to determine the pregnancy of a cat.
An ultrasound can confirm the pregnancy after two weeks, but it doesn’t show how many fetuses are on the cat’s belly. The number of possible kittens can be determined by an X-Ray done after 50 days of pregnancy.
What Can I Expect When My Cat Is Pregnant?
A cat pregnancy can often happen from the first moment it reaches its sexual maturity between 4 and 6 months of age. If you let your female cat outside while in heat, there’s a pretty good chance of it coming home pregnant.
After the cat becomes pregnant, her body will show visible changes in the next 60 days as the fetuses grow inside. However, these changes won’t be visible in the first week of pregnancy.
One of the first signs a female cat shows when pregnant is more prominent nipples with a pinker color. Then the cat will start gaining weight.
The pregnancy also changes the cat’s behavior. Occasional vomiting, loss of appetite, and fatigue are common during this time. The female cat will also show nesting behavior, and it will find a special warm and safe place to have its kittens.
By the time the female cat starts to look for a place in the house to give birth, her milk glands will begin to fill.
In a home environment, a cat can decide to give birth in many places: cupboards, on the couch, under a bed, and even on top of its owner’s bed. In the wild, the nest would have to be a dry and well-hidden place for the kittens to have a chance of survival.
How Many Kittens Can A Cat Have In A Year?
A mature cat’s gestation process is considerably shorter than a human, lasting about two months.
Considering a female cat can re-enter a heat cycle eight weeks after giving birth, chances of multiple pregnancies during a year are high. The cat can have as many as five pregnancies during a year.
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Female cats have an average of four kittens in each pregnancy. But, the number of kittens can range from one to twelve. So, on average, a cat can have as many as 20 kittens in a year.
If your cat could give birth to 12 kittens every time, you would find yourself with 60 kittens within a year. When your cat gets a heat cycle, it will remain susceptible to becoming pregnant as long as it is not spayed.
What Is Spaying A Cat?
Spaying is a common term for neutering—the removal of a cat’s reproductive organs. Medically, the surgical procedure’s official name is ovariohysterectomy.
If you don’t want your cat to breed, spaying is the solution. There are also health benefits for spaying your cat, like avoiding ovarian and uterine cancer.
Breast cancer is the most common one in female cats. Spaying your cat before the first heat cycle, at four months old, reduces the cat’s chance of getting breast cancer considerably.
The most apparent reason for spaying your cat is to prevent unplanned pregnancies. Since cats can mature sexually at different stages, it is recommended to visit a veterinarian to know when to spay your cat.
Spaying your cat is a major surgical procedure. The night before, your cat needs to fast. The cat will be able to return home about two days after surgery. Spaying a cat also eliminates any future heat cycles.
Laws are requiring domestic cats to be spayed. Depending on your area, there may be a fine ranging from 25 to 500 for not complying. Those convicted in Louisiana may even face a sentence of 30 days imprisonment. The only exception is a cat owned by an approved breeder.
A cat can get pregnant when they reach sexual maturity, this could be at four months old or six months old, and if it is not spayed, it could continue to get pregnant up to five times a year. Cats can get heat cycles way up to their senior years, so pregnancy will continue to be a possibility for most of a cat’s life.
Further Reading: How Do Cats Mate? And How Often Can Your Cat Mate?
Shawn Manaher is a serial entrepreneur but when he isn’t working, he loves dogs. He’s owned different pets over the years, and always gives a part of his heart to each pet.