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 they first go into heat, which is usually around 6 months old, but it can vary considerably from cat to cat, and be as early as 4 months.
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.
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 impossible for a kitten to become pregnant as early as 4 months of age. The breed may also play a factor in determining when the cat will go into heat, and smaller and short-haired breeds will typically go into heat sooner, while larger and long-haired breeds like the Maine Coon can take as long as 10 months or more to go into their first heat cycle. Your cat will only become pregnant when in heat, and each heat cycle lasts approximately 7 days, but it can range anywhere from 1 to 21 days.
However, unlike dogs that generally only go into heat twice per year, your cat can go into heat every 1–3 weeks, allowing for plenty of opportunities to become pregnant. The breeding season in the Northern Hemisphere is usually from January to late fall, but some cats may cycle all year round if they live indoors.
Signs Your Cat Is in Heat
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 their 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.
If you are not sure if your cat is being vocal due to her season or being unwell, particularly if the meowing has started very suddenly and is more like howling or yowling, the cat is distressed and uncomfortable and should be checked out by your vet straight away.
Cats in heat also sometimes mark their territory by urinating on vertical objects like walls, also called spraying. 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 catfights that can last through the night in some cases.
If My Cat Is Pregnant, How Long Before Kittens Are Born?
Pregnancy in cats usually lasts between 64 and 71 days, but most are born right around 65 days or 9 weeks. Your cat can go into heat again as soon as 2 weeks after giving birth, but for most cats, it will be a little longer than that, depending on male availability. 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 them spayed before the first heat cycle occurs. Most vets perform the surgery at around 4 to 6 months of age. There are several other good reasons to get your cat spayed as well.
Spaying your female cat reduces the risk of uterine infections and breast tumors that may occur in middle-aged and older cats that haven’t been neutered, plus it eliminates the costs associated with raising a litter of kittens and also eliminates the work you will need to do to rehome those kittens. By having your cat neutered, you will reduce their need for roaming outdoors in search of a mate, which may lead to injuries and even fatal outcomes if they encounter traffic. Through mating or fighting with other cats, they can contract various serious feline infectious diseases.
Spaying your female cat also helps eliminate the risk that you might be contributing to the feral cat population and increasing number of unwanted and abandoned cats and kittens.
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 4-6 months of age, depending on your cat’s breed, size, individual needs, and in accordance with your vet’s recommendation. 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 them to achieve their maximum potential lifespan, reducing the risk of certain reproductive illnesses or contracting infectious disease, while not contributing to the large stray and feral cat population.
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.