Cat Health E-mail

Cat Pregnancy

1. Is it true that cats are in heat in spring and summer only?

No, there is no such thing as a generally recognized mating season. Some cats are in heat three, four and sometimes even five times a year, others only two times.

Find out more about heat cycles.

2. Does a cat bleed when she's in heat, like dogs do?

No. A female cat does not bleed when she's in heat. If she bleeds shortly after a heat cycle it could mean she has a miscarriage.

3. How can you tell if a cat is pregnant?

Her nipples become pink about three weeks after mating. This is most visible the first time she’s pregnant. From that moment it will take six weeks before the kittens arrive. More about signs of pregnancy in cats.

4. How long does pregnancy in cats last?

About 65 days. A variation of four days either way is not unusual, so the whole cat gestation period may be as short as 61 days or as long as 69.

5. Can a pregnant cat have more than one father per litter?

Yes, this is possible - although it is relatively rare. A cat in heat releases her eggs about 24 hours after mating. Theoretically all sperms that have entered her the past day can fertilize each egg. If she mated with more than one cat within these 24 hours, there can be more than one different fathers.

6. How old does a cat have to be before she can get pregnant?

Physically many cats are able to get pregnant as young as only six or seven months old. However, it is better and healthier for pregnancy to occur when they're a little older. Often younger cats are not good mothers; the maternal instinct seems to be better developed when they're one year or older.

7. How soon after giving birth can a cat become pregnant again?

She can get pregnant again anytime - it's not unusual for cats to come into heat again just a few days after giving birth. Neither you nor your kitty may be ready for another litter so soon - but don’t have her spayed before her kittens have graduated to solid food, which should be about eight weeks after birth. Until then, keep the momma cat indoors, and away from any unfixed males.

8. I have two cats, one male and one female. The female cat is pregnant, but the male is not the father. Will he attack the kittens once they're born?

The male won't know or care that he's not the father. Although serious problems are unusual, it does happen that other cats (male AND female) react aggressively towards kittens. The mother will do her best to defend her litter.

To avoid a fight you should never leave the other cat in the same room as the mother and the litter, in case you go out. And be there when the male cat meets the kittens for the first time, and watch how it goes -- only interfere if it gets out of hand.