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Cats/Can Cats Go Into Heat Late?


QUESTION: I have a 9-10 month old female cat who usually goes into heat around the 17th day of each month. This month her cycle hasn't started yet and the only not neutered male cat that she's been around that was probably mature enough to mate was way back at the beginning of the month when she wasn't in heat. I've checked her nipples but her nipples have always been a pinkish color. She also normally throws up a day or so before going into heat and she threw up this morning. Is that normal for cats going into heat? She's always ate a lot so there's no change in eating habits that I notice and I'm the one that usually feeds her. Her play activity is normal and she always sleeps curled up on the couch,chair or on a blanket on my bed or on the sheet on my bedroom so if she's nesting she's hiding it pretty well. She also usually gains a little weight while in heat.

ANSWER: Leeann,

Normally, cats do not have regular heats, so coming into heat at a different time is not out of the ordinary even for a cat who has regular cycles,

If you think a cat has been bred, about 21 days after breeding, the female's nipples usually turn bright pink and protrude. This phenomenon only lasts a couple of days.

The throwing up business before coming into heat is not out of the ordinary either, and, usually, if she were bred, the morning sickness takes place early on after being bred.

I would monitor her and see if she begins to gain weight around the middle of March or comes back into season. Remember, male cats can tell if a female is in season, before we can!

Please let me know what develops.

Best regards... Norm.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thanks for the reply Norm! At what age can male cats start breeding? The male cat that I was referring to in my original question is 5 months this month. I took Belle (my cat) down to my neighbor last night to see if they could tell if she was pregnant because they have a lot more cat experience than I do and they told me that they didn't think she was but they weren't sure. Could it be that February is a short month and that is screwing up her system? She's only my second cat and she has play dates with neighborhood cats a lot (most of them are spayed males) but my last one never had contact with other cats so this is all new to me. I'm trying to find a low cost spay clinic in my area.

ANSWER: Leeann,

I have seen males as young as 4 1/2 months breed females in season.

Cats do not know about months, but follow the cycles of daylight and phases of the moon. These often determine seasons as much as anything.  So, about 60 day before spring, females begin to start coming into season for spring kittens.  Of course, being cats, there are no hard and fast rules.  We have had kittens born almost any time of the year.

If she comes into season again, the male did not get her.

Check with your local animal control or your state humane society to see about low cost neuter spay clinics in your area.

Best regards... Norm.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: If she were mated at the beginning of the month would I have noticed by now since it was almost four weeks ago?


I usually think cats begin to show their pregnancy about 6 to 7 weeks into it. For a first litter, it may not be until 8 weeks into the pregnancy!

Here is an information dump of what to expect in the latter stages of pregnancy.  I expect you may know most of this stuff, but it does not hurt to have a refresher.

Cat gestation is normally 65-67 days with 63 days being a normal minimum and 68 days being a normal maximum.  Anything over 68 days would mean a visit to the vet!  You should be able to see and feel the kittens moving in the last week and a half to 2 weeks of pregnancy.

Here is the problem.  Every queen seems to want to do it a little differently, so the best I can do is give you some guidelines.

Anywhere from a week before birth up until the onset of birth or anywhere in between, she will get her milk in.  In this time frame she may also have a mucous/bloody discharge. (Although these events may start at different times during this time frame).

Anywhere from a few days before birth up until the onset of birth or anywhere in between, she may exhibit nesting behavior and restlessness.  Also, in this time frame her kittens will form hard knots and begin to move backward and downward in her abdomen.  This is really the very early stages of labor. (Although these events may start at different times during this time frame).

Anywhere from a few hours before birth up until the onset of birth or anywhere in between, her water may break and she will have what are called positioning contractions where she begins to get the kittens in line for birth.

You will know hard labor when you see it.  Once she starts her birthing contractions, it is usually about an hour before the first kitten is all the way out.  About 50% of the kittens are breech, so although it is a bit tougher, it is normal for the first kitten to be breech.

A couple of things you want to have handy are a roll of paper towels, a bottle of isopropyl alcohol, scissors (in case you have to cut the cords), and a soft face cloth to clean the kitten's face if mama does not do it immediately.

I like to use a "jumbo" cardboard storage chest (10" X 16" X 26") as a birthing box.  Put some old sheeting or toweling in side.  Put it somewhere you can easily get to, in a warm spot away from drafts, and away from young children and other pets.  You can half cover it with a towel, so it seems more den like.

Make sure your vet knows what is going on, so, in case she has trouble, you have arrangements about what you must do.

Please let me know if you have any more questions.

Best regards... Norm.  


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Norman Auspitz


I can answer most non-veterinary questions about cats. My particular expertise is pedigree cats, breeding and showing. However, I am versed in feline behavior, cat breeds and their characteristics, general feline husbandry, and the like.


I judged for the Canadian Cat Association from 1975 until 1982. I am currently an approved allbreed judge for the Cat Fanciers'' Association (the world''s largets cat registry), and have been judging for them since 1991. I have been breeding pedigreed cats since 1971 and have been exhibiting pedigreed cats in shows since 1970. I obtained my first pedigreed cat in 1970 and have never looked back. In 1971, I obtained my first Abyssinian which has become my primary breed. In addition, I have bred Manx and Persians. Currently, besides the Abyssinians, I am also breeding Maine Coons.

Cat Fanciers'' Association, inc. (CFA) and the Manx, Maine Coon, and Abyssinian breed councils. I am currently Abyssinian breed council secretary.

Cat Fancy Magazine, The Abyssinian Chapter in The Cat Fanciers'' Association Complete Cat Book, and Articles for various editions of The Cat Fanciers'' Association Yearbook

I received a B.S. from Drexel University in 1968, a M.Math from University of Waterloo, in 1970, a Ph.D. from University of Waterloo in 1975, and a MBA from McMaster University in 1980. I received my approved allbreed judging status in the Cat Fanciers'' Association in 1999.

Awards and Honors
We have produced a number of Cat Fanciers'' Association (CFA) National winning Abyssinian and Maine Coons. We have produced a number of Abyssinian and Maine Coon Distinguished Merit females (an award for a top producing cat), including the first Distinguished Merit Abyssinian in the red (sorrel) color. I am the CFA Abyssinian breed council secretary and belong and/or hold office in a number of cat clubs. I am also a member of the CFA Judges Association.

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