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How Old Do Cats Have to be to Get Pregnant?

Ed Malaker

By Ed Malaker

pregnant white cat
Image Credit By: Boy77, shutterstock

If you own an unspayed female kitten, you probably wonder at what age your cat can become pregnant. Your female feline can become pregnant when it first goes into heat, which is usually around 6 months old, but it can vary considerably from cat to cat. If you want to learn more about when and how often a cat is likely to become pregnant, keep reading while we try to answer those questions and several others to help you stay informed on your pet.

The First Heat Cycle

The first heat cycle of most female cats occurs at around 6 months of age, but it can vary, and it’s not uncommon for a kitten to become pregnant at 4 months. The breed also plays a factor in determining when the cat will go into heat, and smaller breeds will go into heat sooner, while larger breeds like the Maine Coon can take as long as 10 months to go into their first heat cycle. Your cat will only become pregnant when in heat, and each heat cycle lasts approximately 6 days and has multiple stages. However, unlike dogs that only go into heat twice per year, your cat can go into heat every 2-3 weeks from spring until fall, allowing for plenty of opportunities to become pregnant.

two cats touch each other's noses
Image Credit: Sandeep Gore, Shutterstock

Signs Your Cat Is In Heat

Affection

Cats can become quite affectionate when they go into heat and continuously rub up against you and your furniture or jump on your lap to get attention. Your kitty may also roll over, exposing its belly, and persist in loud vocalizations that can become annoying. In some cases, the meowing can become so odd that owners think the cat might have a health problem.

Marking

Cats in heat also tend to mark their territory by urinating on vertical objects like walls. If it occurs indoors, it can make quite a mess that is difficult to clean up. Your cat is urinating on the walls because the urine contains special pheromones that only cats can smell, which will attract the males. These pheromones are quite potent, and you could quickly start seeing unneutered male cats you didn’t see before. These male cats will also begin to mark their claim by urinating on vertical surfaces. Having more than one unneutered male lingering around your home can also lead to cat fights that can last through the night in some cases.

cat peeing on carpet
Image Credit: Africa Studio, Shutterstock

If My Cat Is Pregnant, How Long Before Kittens Are Born?

The pregnancy cycle in cats usually lasts between 60 and 71 days, but most are born right around 63 days or 9 weeks. Your cat can go into heat again as soon as 6 weeks after giving birth, but most cats wait for about 8 weeks. The short gestation period and rapid re-entry into the heat cycle allow the cat to have more than one litter per year.

How Can I Prevent My Cat from Becoming Pregnant?

We’ve seen many people try to prevent their cats from becoming pregnant by keeping them indoors, but this is rarely successful and usually only increases the stress level of everyone involved. Your cat will usually begin to urinate on the walls and scratch up the furniture, causing significant damage. Your cat is also likely to stand at an exit point, meowing loudly.

The best way to prevent your cat from becoming pregnant is to get it spayed before the first heat cycle occurs. Most vets perform the surgery at around 8 weeks which is well within the safety zone. There are several other good reasons to get your cat spayed as well.

Spaying your female cat reduces the risk of uterine and breast tumors that occur in about 90% of cats.

Spaying your female cat eliminates the costs associated with raising a litter of kittens, and it also eliminates the work you will need to do to rehome those kittens.

Spaying your female cat saves on the cost of cleaning and repairing your home from the damage it does while in heat, and it also saves you the time you would have spent cleaning.

Spaying your female cat helps eliminate the risk that you might be contributing to the feral cat population.

Summary

Most cats will first go into heat and become pregnant at around 6 months old, though if you have a larger breed, it can take considerably longer. However, unless you intend to become a breeder, we highly recommend getting your female spayed at about 8 weeks.  Spaying your kitten will save you from many problems that accompany dealing with a cat in heat and is well worth the cost. It also keeps your cat healthy, allowing it to achieve its maximum potential lifespan.

We hope you have enjoyed reading over this guide and found the answers to your questions. If we helped you learn something new, please share our look into how old your cat has to be to get pregnant on Facebook and Twitter.


Featured Image Credit: Boy77, shutterstock

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