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How Old Do Cats Have to Be to Get Pregnant? Vet-Reviewed Science & Facts

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	Dr. Luqman Javed Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Luqman Javed

DVM (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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A cat’s fertility and reproduction remain unrivalled as kittens grow into sexual maturity sooner than you might expect – as young as 4 to 6 months – meaning your cat can get pregnant as early as four months!

For this reason, it would be best to understand what to expect when your kitty enters the breeding stage, whether you intend to breed it or not. This knowledge will help you make informed decisions about your pet’s health and prepare you to handle a cat’s pregnancy.

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At What Age Can Kittens Get Pregnant?

Believe it or not, your four-month-old tiny kitty can get pregnant if she hits puberty by this age. That’s too early.

Well, a cat can have its first estrus cycle (heat cycle) from 3½ months when it reaches puberty. Cats are seasonally polyestrous, which means that, unlike dogs with two heat cycles annually, a kitty can have multiple processes in a year.

If the queen hasn’t been spayed to prevent unwanted pregnancies, she can keep going into heat every two to three weeks, making her capable of reproducing much more often.

Although an indoor cat my cycle all year round, the breeding season can vary according to conditions like temperature and daylight hours. A kitty’s reproductive activity can be triggered by an increase in day length and favorable weather.

For instance, a cat living in the Northern hemisphere is most likely to fall pregnant in March, April, and May, and reduce in October to January. On the other hand, indoor cats are usually viable all year round.

Although a queen can breed at any time as long as she’s on heat, ovulation can only occur when she mates with a tom, a male cat. Cats are induced ovulators, which means that the act of mating stimulates the release of eggs.

pregnant cat lying
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However, this stimulation may require several matings within 24 hours, with queens mating with several tomcats within this period. Since it only takes a minute or two for the pair to mate, this action can occur multiple times in a short while, making it possible for a litter of kittens to have different fathers.

Generally, each queen’s heat cycle lasts up to six days, and it will go out of the heat for a while if you don’t mate it during this time. It’ll be able to get back into heat within three weeks.

The good thing is, a responsible cat parent will always know if their cat is in heat. The reason is, your cat will start experiencing some behavioral changes to show that she’s ready to be bred. The signs include:

  • Vocalization—your kitty will start yowling and meowing very loudly as if she’s in pain to attract a mate.
  • Overly affectionate or clingy behavior even towards strangers.
  • Elevating and swaying her backside in the air.
  • Frequent urination and increased odor.
  • Attempts to escape outside the home to find a mate.
  • “Assuming the position” every time you touch around the hip area.

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Do Cats Mate with Their Siblings?

Felines are indiscriminate and have no concept of relatives or family. Therefore, unspayed cats can mate with their family members once they are sexually mature, making it usual for siblings to mate.

Similarly, litter kittens are not off-limits to parents, and they often breed with their offspring. Unfortunately, inbreeding causes higher rates of genetically-related issues among cats.

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Do Cats Get Pregnant on Their First Try?

A cat can get pregnant on its first try during its first estrous cycle. Its gestation period usually lasts 60-63 days.

Unfortunately, this aspect increases chances for accidental breeding, the more reason why cat parents should spay or neuter their female feline friends before their first estrous cycle.

But then, it can be hard to predict when the initial heat will happen. For this reason, veterinarians recommend conducting a spay operation or surgical sterilization (ovariohysterectomy) before the kitty reaches three months of age.

In case your kitty goes into heat before you spay it, you’ll have to reschedule the operation after she finishes her cycle because of the increased risk of bleeding during surgery.

What Age Does a Male Kitten Become Sexually Active?

Although male cats don’t experience heat, unneutered males reach sexual maturity around the same time as the queens, between 4-6 months. Similarly, it may exhibit behavior changes like escape attempts to find a mate, urine marking, and smelly urine.

What Age is Safe to Breed a Cat?

If you intend to breed your pet cat, you should consider several vital factors before proceeding. Cat breeding shouldn’t be taken lightly, and it’s best to research thoroughly beforehand.

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Can a 10-Year-Old Cat Get Pregnant?

As a responsible owner, it would be best if you refrain from breeding your cats until the queen is of age.

If you fail to wait until she’s fully grown, it can damage her health as she’ll use up her energy reserves, nurturing her offspring instead of growing.

For this reason, the safest age to breed a cat is when the queen is 18-24 months old, healthy, and in a sound body condition. Such cats are capable of being good mothers and have fewer pregnancy problems.

Interestingly, kitties never outgrow the heat cycle by hitting menopause, meaning you can even breed an old kitty as old as ten years. However, it does not mean that you should comfortably breed such an elderly kitty, as they tend to be more prone to pregnancy-related issues, such as miscarriages.

Is it Bad to Breed Cats?

Breeding cats is okay if you are a responsible and ethical breeder. Breeding allows cat parents to keep a specific type of cat they prefer.

Do Cat Breeders Need a License?

The first thing to keep in mind before breeding your feline is the law. Ensure that you are in line with updated guidelines and rules first before breeding a cat. Although cat breeding guidelines are yet to be fully legally implemented, there are established bodies that dictate and govern cat breeding.

For instance, the Pet Animals Act 1951 protects cat breeding and requires feline breeders to have a license to breed and sell cats via pet shops or at home. The act helps discourage backyard breeding that offers unethical breeders a platform to choose profit over the cat’s welfare.

Backyard breeders do not administer vaccinations or give proper vet care to their kitties in time, making the animals seem healthy at first but show medical issues, defects, and viruses later.

grey mother cat nursing kittens
Image Credit: Rashid Valitov, Shutterstock

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Since there are several myths regarding a cat’s fertility and reproduction, it would be best to stay informed before allowing your cat to get pregnant. Yes, a responsible cat owner should help be in charge and control when their female cats should get pregnant.

You can achieve this by spaying and neutering them at an early age. Being responsible will help reduce cases such as birth complications and unwanted cat pregnancies that lead to abandoned cats in shelters and stray cats in the streets.

As usual, always seek help from your veterinary officer before breeding your kitty.

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Featured Image Credit: Jim Polakis, Shutterstock