The Shocking Truth About Cats Having Kittens In the Winter


There are about 370 million pet cats in the world, and if you happen to have one or a few in your house, you’ve probably asked yourself this question before.Do cats have kittens in the winter?

Cats can have kittens all year long, but kitten season usually starts in spring around April and ends in late autumn. So your biggest chance of getting a new kitten or adopting a new one will be during the summer months when the cats are actively breeding.

However, during the winter season, there’s still a chance of getting some unexpected litters, but it’s a very slim chance.

So why is there a kitten season? How many litters can a cat have? Keep on reading to find the answers to these questions.

Do Cats Have Kittens in Winter?

Statistically speaking, one pair of male and female cats can produce 2 litters per year with an average number of 6 kittens per litter. Thus, over the course of 8 years, this pair can be responsible for the birth of more than 2 million kittens, as long as there’s an average survival rate of 2.8 kittens per litter.

But in real life, things aren’t that easy. Although cats can have kittens all year long, they usually don’t mate during the cold winter months. Instead, cats go into heat and start to have kittens starting from April till October, and the chance of having a litter increases in the hot summer months.

Moreover, some kittens can be stillborn or die before the weaning period. When they’re born, kittens are weak and vulnerable, so they can get sick and die. Most kittens before the age of 8 weeks due to low blood sugar levels, dehydration, or hypothermia.

what is kitten season

What is Kitten Season?

Kitten season is when cats are more likely to give birth to new kittens. You can think of this time as a fun and cute time where you can play with fluffy little kittens, and it can also be a stressful time if you decided to take care of stray and abandoned kittens as people are more likely to get rid of a litter during these months.

Once the weather becomes warm, cats get into heat, and within 2 months, they start to have litters of kittens. Unfortunately, this is also a difficult time for caretakers and people who work at shelters because they get overwhelmed by the number of abandoned kittens that they have to deal with from April to October.

[Related Article: How To Keep Cats Warm In Garage – 9 Useful Tips You Can Use]

How Do You Know That Your Cat Is In Heat?

A cat experiences its first heat cycle when it reaches sexual maturity. This usually happens when your cat is about 6 months old, but this age can differ depending on several factors like the weather and the cat’s overall health.

Cats that live in colder regions can have their breeding season as soon as the temperature rises. This can be as early as January or as late as April, depending on the weather, and it lasts till October when the temperatures drop one more time.

In hotter regions, cats can have breeding cycles all year long, and this also means that they’re more likely to produce more litters.

An average heat lasts about 6 days, and if the female cat doesn’t mate during the cycle, it will be out of the heat for a few weeks. This means that an average breeding cycle can be anything between 3 and 6 weeks.

There are several signs that help you know that your cat is in heat.

  • The first sign that owners usually notice is that their cats become too affectionate or even clingy, always trying to rub themselves against their humans or objects around the house.
  • Your cat is likely to become very vocal and annoying during this period.
  • You will see your cat rolling on the floor more often.
  • If you stroke the cat’s back, it will raise its rear legs in the air.
  • Female cats usually urinate on vertical objects like chair legs for marking. They can also spray urine to attract male cats. You can also see male cats from the neighborhood trying to get into your house.
  • In some cases, some cats can experience vaginal bleeding.

How Many Kittens Can A Cat Have?

When Can a Cat Get Pregnant

A cat usually reaches sexual maturity at the age of 5 or 6 months and will be able to have 2 or 3 litters per year.  While cats usually have an average of four kittens in each litter, this can range from one to 12 kittens.[Source]

As a result, an average cat will have an average of 100 kittens within its reproductive life.

During the heat, a female cat can get pregnant if it mates with a male cat. This is because cats are induced ovulators and will release the eggs from the ovaries when they mate. On average, a female cat will release an egg after three or four mating sessions within 24 hours.

A single female cat or Queen can mate with multiple male cats or Tomcats at the same time. Each mating session can last for a couple of minutes, and the litter might have multiple fathers. After the mating session, the ovaries will be stimulated to release the eggs, and the cat will go out of heat within a couple of days. The pregnancy lasts for 9 weeks on average.

Instead of having litters that you can’t take care of, more veterinarians recommend that owners surgically sterilize their female cats before they experience the first heat, which can happen at the age of 5 or 6 months.

However, if you don’t mind having a litter of kittens that you can take care of, you can definitely allow your cat to have a litter or even two, as long as you’re able to take care of the little kittens.

Wrap Up

Cats usually have their kittens in the warmer season and the kitten season begins in spring and ends in autumn. However, in cold weather, cats can have kittens all year long.

A cat can get pregnant when it reaches sexual maturity and has its first heat. There are several signs that you can keep an eye on to know that your cat is ready to have kittens.

If you don’t mind, you can allow your cat to have a litter or two before sterilizing it. However, most vets recommend that you have your cat sterilized at the age of 5 or 6 months to solve the problem of cat overpopulation.

Sarah Jones

Sarah is a passionate pet lover who owns several pets on her own. She loves to share her experience doing part-time writing to impart some useful tips to other pet owners.

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