When can female cats get pregnant? I’ve been asked this question so many times. As I divulge the rigid details people are truly amazed by the information they’re given. It’s more like “when can’t a cat get pregnant”. The cat’s heat cycle is extraordinary. From spring, through summer and fall, a cat will continuously go in and out of a heat cycle.
Therefore, once the female cat begins their first heat cycle they’re basically in constant cycles until spayed or become pregnant. Ultimately, the best option for the cat and owner is to spay before the first cycle is ever achieved. The longer a cat endures cycles and reaches maturity levels the risks of life-threatening medical problems, destructive and aggressive behavior issues are more than likely to arise.
The First Heat Cycle
At the early age of four months old a female kitten will experience their first heat cycle and can become pregnant at anytime after. This can come as quite a shocking surprise to most cat owners or for those unfamiliar with cats in general. While a kitten is still boasting cute “kitten-ish” features and small-scale body it is hard to imagine she could soon be carrying a litter of kittens of her own and all before reaching adulthood.
After Having Kittens
Through ample misguided information and simply a lack of feline general knowledge (to no fault of their own), many people think a cat cannot get pregnant again (at all) after birthing a litter or believe the kittens must be grown before it can happen again. I have to admit, long before gaining experience with cats, I was one of the many in the latter group.
The truth is a cat can begin a heat cycle when her kittens are anywhere from six to eight weeks old. Weaning kittens from Mother’s milk are normally started between five to six weeks of age and even for the experienced person, it may take two to three weeks to fully wean. Therefore, Mama can have a pregnancy in as little as six weeks of giving birth to her litter of kittens. You run into this scenario often in an animal shelter setting.
There are rare cases where a cat starts the heat cycle as early as one week after giving birth. Rare or not, in a span of six years I personally witnessed this instance in two female cats.
The only sure way a cat is not going to get pregnant is if she is spayed or during a cat’s gestation period (or pregnancy term) which ranges approximately from 58 to 67 days.
Winter Heat Cycle
It may be a cold winter outside but it is nice and toasty and bright inside. According to statistics and studies, a cat cycle is from the spring, summer and fall seasons. The cycle normally winds down in late fall and completely dies down during winter due to extreme cold and lack of natural light. But we all know how those pesky exceptions like to rear up. With more and more cats becoming domesticated and living the good comfy life indoors there have been cases which cycles continue well into winter. No one is for certain but this strange occurrence could be due to the indoor heating and lighting. It’s possible this gives a sense of warmer months and simply alters or somehow confuses the cat’s heat cycle. Or perhaps a rare mystery that will never be explained.
Avoid The Heat
The best option for cat and owner is to simply avoid the heat cycle altogether. Having the female cat spayed is the only sure way a female cat will not get pregnant. A spay surgery can safely be performed on a female kitten between two to three months of age and weighing up to three pounds. Many people believe it is best to wait until a cat is much older and has experienced at least one heat cycle before getting the surgery, this is a very misleading myth. The younger the female cat the easier and quicker they recover compared to an older female. Early spay will also highly decrease the chances of medical problems, and unwanted behavior issues.
Were you surprised to learn when female cats can get pregnant, or did you already know? How about that crazy heat cycle, I’d love to hear from you.