Cats are highly fertile animals, so it’s natural to wonder if they can be in heat and pregnant at the same time. In fact, a Queen, or unspayed female cat, can have 2 or 3 litters each year. They come into heat much more frequently than dogs, although their heat cycles are shorter. 

Can a cat go into heat while pregnant?

Biologically, cats shouldn’t go into heat while pregnant. The purpose of heat is to allow the cat to mate and become pregnant, so there’s no benefit of a heat cycle when she is already pregnant. However, there are some exceptions to the rule. 

Cats Heat Cycle

First, let’s look at a cat’s heat cycle. Cats typically have their first heat at 6 months of age. Once they reach sexual maturity, they can have heat cycles from 6 months of the year to all year round, depending on the lighting and temperature conditions. 

Cats in the northern hemisphere typically have heat cycles during the warmer months. Cats near the equator can have heats all year round, because of the consistent light and temperature. Indoor cats can have heats throughout most of the year, because they aren’t frequently subjected to shorter amounts of light and cooler temperatures during the winter. 

The average length of a cat’s cycle is 3 weeks. After a short time out of heat, the queen will go into heat again. 

Superfecundation

Superfecundation means that there’s a pregnancy with more than one father. This happens when one egg is fertilized by one male’s sperm, and another egg is fertilized by a different male. Surprisingly, this can happen in humans as well as cats, although it is very rare in humans. 

Cats ovulate when they mate. This means that an egg is released when they mate, instead of before. If they continue to mate, more eggs will be released. A cat can get pregnant from multiple fathers, because different fathers can fertilize different eggs. 

If she becomes pregnant early on in the heat, you may even notice signs of pregnancy while she is still in heat, and can get pregnant by other males. 

False Pregnancy

Your queen can also experience a false pregnancy. When a cat has a heat, there are three possible outcomes. The first is that she mates, and becomes pregnant. The second is that she doesn’t become pregnant, and will begin a new heat cycle soon. 

The last possibility is that she mates, but does not get pregnant. This can cause a false pregnancy. 

A false pregnancy can have all the symptoms of an actual pregnancy. In fact, it’s thought it’s caused by the same hormones that occur during pregnancy, prolactin and progesterone. 

These hormones are responsible for the symptoms of pregnancy, so when the hormones increase, the symptoms occur, regardless of whether or not she is actually pregnant. 

Humans can also experience false pregnancy, although it is usually less pronounced. In women, it’s often  believed to have a psychological component, meaning the woman is thinking about or desiring to be pregnant. 

When it occurs in cats, it’s believed to occur due to hormonal imbalances, and isn’t thought to have a psychological component. 

In addition to hormonal imbalances, worms and tumors can also create symptoms of false pregnancy. These conditions can cause a swollen stomach and other symptoms that may seem to indicate pregnancy. 

Can a pregnant cat show signs of heat?

Can a pregnant cat seem to be in heat? Both pregnancy and heat cause physical and behavioral changes in your cat, so it can cause some confusion. 

Signs of Pregnancy In Cats

To know if a cat can show signs of pregnancy while in heat, it’s important to know the signs of pregnancy.

Lack of Heat Cycle

Cats average gestation is approximately 9 weeks, with a range of 64-66 days. The first sign owners notice is usually the cat not going into heat. Cats typically go into heat every 3 weeks, and the symptoms of heat can last from a few days to a few weeks. If your cat isn’t going into heat when expected, it’s a clue she could be pregnant. 

Pinking

When a queen is pregnant, her nipples will become rosy and swollen. This is known as pinking. It’s often one of the first physical signs of pregnancy. Of course, it occurs because the cat’s body is preparing for breastfeeding. 

Appetite and Weight Gain

When your cat is pregnant, expect her appetite to increase. Pregnant women often say they are “eating for two”. Your cat is eating for more than two. She needs nutrition for herself as well as several growing babies while pregnant. 

Some cats will have a decreased appetite during pregnancy, likely due to nausea. If your cat goes for days without eating, she’ll need a checkup. If she misses an occasional meal, it’s likely nothing to worry about. 

She will also gain weight. Some of this weight is due to the kittens themselves. Some of it is also the amiotic fluid, and the rest is fat stores to prepare her for breastfeeding her kittens. Most cats gain between 2-4 pounds throughout pregnancy. 

Vomiting

The hormonal changes of pregnancy can cause vomiting, commonly known as morning sickness. Occasional vomitting isn’t a concern, but if your queen is vomitting frequently, you should get her checked by the vet. 

Enlarged Abdomen

You should be able to visibly see your queen’s stomach growing due to pregnancy at about 5 weeks. Just like weight gain, it will continue to increase throughout the rest of the pregnancy as the kittens grow. 

Increased Affection

In addition to physical changes, your cat will undergo some behavioral changes when pregnant. One of the most pronounced is increased affection. 

Your cat may become clingy or seek your attention more often. Your previously independent cat may constantly be under your feet. This may be frustrating at times, but it’s best to give her the attention she needs. 

This behavior is likely due to an increase in oxytocin. Oxytocin is known as the love hormone. It is released when we have meaningful bonding experiences with others. Humans experience high spikes when falling in love and caring for children. 

Oxytocin causes both humans and cats to form intense bonds. Once your cat gives birth, high levels of oxytocin ensure that she cares for her litter. While she’s pregnant, you will likely be the recipient of her increased affection. 

Sleeping 

Pregnancy is hard work for a body. Your queen is growing kittens, which takes a large amount of energy. You can expect your pregnant cat to sleep more than usual. She may also be less playful during this time. 

Signs of Heat in Cats

Now, let’s look at the signs your cat is in heat. 

Vocalization 

A cat in heat will make frequent vocalizations, also known as calling. This is a way of signaling to nearby males she is ready to mate. She may meow, moan, or even wail. 

You may think she is in distress. She may even keep you up at night during this period. 

Of course, some cats are naturally more vocal than others. If your cat is typically noisy, you’ll need to look at other signs she is in heat. 

Restlessness

Have you ever heard the term, “like a cat in heat”? This is often used to refer to a person who is antsy or restless, particularly in a sexual context. 

This is because cats in heat are restless. They seem unable to relax or get comfortable. This is due to their hormones creating sexual desire. If you think back to puberty, you may remember a similar feeling of restlessness due to surging hormones and sexual attraction. 

Crawling

A cat in heat will sometimes crawl, often combining this with calling. They may also roll around on the floor. It’s also common for them to raise their rear in the air while lowering the front part of their body. This is essentially an invitation to any males nearby. 

Affection

A cat in heat will often be more affectionate than normal. She may seek your attention often. She will likely rub her head against you and objects. This is to spread her scent, which will tell males she is in heat. 

Most cats also enjoy being petted more than normal when in heat. She may raise her tail high, stick her butt in the air, and even wiggle her butt when being petted. 

Grooming

When in heat, your cats genitals will become swollen and uncomfortable. Because cats are impeccable groomers, you can expect her to spend more time grooming herself during this period. She will pay particular attention to her genitals, because there will be a slight discharge. 

Wanting to Be Outside

If your indoor cat begins displaying a strong desire to be outside, she is likely in heat. It’s your cat’s biological drive to mate when in heat. She will naturally want to roam to seek mates. 

Of course, if you don’t want a pregnancy, you’ll need to keep her indoors during this time. 

Marking

Dogs are well known for marking their territory with urine, but they don’t have a monopoly on the behavior. Cats also use urine for marking. This is often called spraying. 

Typically, your cat will spray urine on vertical objects, like table legs and doors when spraying. The urine contains pheromones and hormones that signal her readiness to mate. 

Male cats will also spray, but for a different reason. Females spray as a way of seeking mates. Males spray to claim territory, or a female cat. 

Similarities Between Pregnancy and Heat

The biggest similarity between a cat that’s pregnant and one that is in heat is affection. Both cause your cat to be more affectionate than normal. 

Pregnancy and heat can also cause your cat to become restless or more vocal than normal. 

If you look at the other signs, you should be able to distinguish between heat and pregnancy. 

Pregnancy and Heat

Of course, it is possible for your cat to be pregnant and in heat. In this case, you can expect her to show signs of being in heat while pregnant. Although, it’s more common to mistake one condition for the other. 

Can I get my cat out of heat while pregnant?

Is your pregnant cat driving you nuts because they are in heat? You have a few options. 

Pseudo-breeding

If you aren’t comfortable performing this, you can ask your vet. Many experts say that your cat will go out of heat, or at least calm their mate-seeking behaviors, if they believe they have been bred. 

This can be done by inserting a q-tip into the cat’s.. kitty. This essentially makes them think they have mated, which can calm the biological drive to mate. 

Spaying

If the kittens are unwanted, you can have your cat spayed while pregnant. This isn’t something all cat owners are comfortable with, for obvious reasons. 

Most vets charge a bit more for spaying while pregnant, but it is considered a safe procedure. 

You should also know that your cat can be spayed while in heat when not pregnant. Again, some vets charge a bit extra for spaying while in heat. Because cats have such frequent heat cycles, it’s often impractical to attempt to bring them in for spay when they are out of heat. 

Wait It Out

The other option is to simply wait it out. Your cat should go out of heat in a week or two. However, if your cat is in heat while pregnant, you should take them to the vet for a check-up. They may have a condition causing a hormonal imbalance. 

Can a cat go into heat while nursing?

It is possible for a cat to go into heat while nursing. Typically, your cat will go into heat about 1 to 4 weeks after the kittens are weaned. However, hormonal fluctuations can cause her to go into heat sooner, particularly if the weather and light conditions mean she is in her mating season. 

How quickly will a cat go into heat after giving birth?

Cats typically go into heat about 8 weeks after giving birth. However, there’s a wide range. Your queen can return to heat from 1-21 weeks after having kittens. 

Typically, the return of the heat cycle coincides with the weaning of kittens, but it can occur sooner or later. 

Author

I created and currently run Kitty Cat Tips, the website that you can go to when you have questions about your cat's behavior. It's my hope that you find Kitty Cat Tips to be a helpful resource. It is also my hope that it will help you to improve your relationship with your cat. You can read more about me and my website here.