Catster is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

Can a Cat Get Pregnant if She’s Not in Heat (What You Need to Know!)

Written by: Christian Adams

Last Updated on January 26, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

beautiful pregnant cat

Can a Cat Get Pregnant if She’s Not in Heat (What You Need to Know!)


Dr. Lauren Demos (DVM) Photo


Dr. Lauren Demos (DVM)


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

Learn more »

If your cat has not been spayed, you may be concerned that you’ll soon have to deal with a pregnant mother and, eventually, a litter of kittens. When your cat is in heat, she’s at risk of getting pregnant, but when the time has passed, you generally don’t have to worry about the tomcats in the neighborhood.

3 cat face divider

The Short Answer Is No

Heat is a time when a female cat will allow mating. Outside of this time, a female cat is uninterested in mating because it cannot result in pregnancy. A cat that hasn’t been spayed will experience heat cycles throughout spring, summer, and early fall unless she becomes pregnant.


The Science Behind Cat Mating

The technical term for “heat” is estrus1. During estrus, a female cat is ovulating, and there is a possibility of getting pregnant. These cycles can begin as soon as four months but typically start around six months. They are similar to a human’s menstrual cycle and occur regularly, between 12 and 26 days throughout the breeding season.

Image credit: Male and female cat by pisici, Pixabay

The Breeding Season

Depending on where you live, female cats begin these heat cycles around February or March, when the days start to get longer and will stop around September. This cat breeding season1 ensures that a litter of kittens isn’t born during the coldest months of the year when it would be most challenging for them to survive outdoors.


Signs That Your Cat Is in Heat

Estrus signs1 are typically easy to spot once they’ve kicked in. If your cat is acting out of character and is not spayed, watch for additional signs that they may be going into heat. They are ready to mate and become pregnant even at the start of the most subtle signs.

  • Loud yowling, likely different from their usual vocalization
  • Rolling around on the floor
  • Excessive rubbing and scent marking
  • Unusual urine odor or going outside their litter box
  • Elevating their backside with their tail positioned to the side
  • Increasingly affectionate behavior
  • General restlessness or discomfort
  • Attempts to escape (indoor cats)
Cat in heat lying down
Image Credit: rihaij, Pixabay

Silent Heat

While rare, a cat may go into heat without displaying any symptoms of her condition. In this case, she is still ovulating and ready to mate and could become pregnant while fertile. If this happens, it could seem like your cat got pregnant without being in heat. Because a cat can’t get pregnant outside of estrus, it’s more likely that she was experiencing silent heat and not showing the typical signs.


Preventing Cat Pregnancy


The most common method of preventing a pregnancy is spaying. This is recommended around the time they reach sexual maturity, at 6 months. Other benefits of having your cat spayed1 include preventing certain diseases and cancers. This procedure is permanent and considered major surgery but is common and performed regularly at most vet clinics. Local shelters and rescues may offer free or low-cost spay and neutering services or vouchers.

Keep Them Indoors

If you know your cat is going into heat soon, you could also keep them indoors. If your cat is already kept indoors, you’ll need to ensure they don’t get out. This can be tricky since they may want to escape to find a mate during this time.

cat walking indoor
Image Credit: Larry Zhao, Unsplash

Birth Control

Cat birth control methods1 can be given by injection or pills and work similarly to those used for humans. They must be administered regularly, depending on the type of medication, to remain effective. Because these medications work differently and could potentially have side effects, you’ll need to discuss their use with your veterinarian. However, they are temporary preventative measures that will allow your cat to breed normally in the future when their pregnancy is planned.

3 cat face divider


Female cats can only get pregnant while in heat. These heat cycles occur regularly throughout the breeding season and typically have very distinct signs. However, some cats experience a silent heat, in which no signs are visible, but they can still mate and become pregnant. Thankfully, there are ways to help prevent an unwanted litter of kittens.

Featured Image Credit: Jim Polakis, Shutterstock

Get Catster in your inbox!

Stay informed! Get tips and exclusive deals.
Catster Editors Choice Badge
Shopping Cart


© Pangolia Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved.