Spaying a pregnant cat is a controversial issue that often pops up in shelters that are overwhelmed by resident cats. Many cat owners often have to grapple with the issue when they have an unplanned cat pregnancy coming up. Where some cat lovers are disturbed by the mere thought of euthanizing the kittens (embryos) developing inside the queen, others find it effective in controlling the increasing feline population.
You adopted a cat and later found out that she is pregnant. You took your young kitten for spaying, and at the vet’s, you are told that the kitty is pregnant (yes, kittens can get pregnant at the young age of four months). Spay or not? Terminate pregnancy or continue.
Where do you go from there?
Can You Spay a Pregnant Cat?
Yes, cats can be spayed at any time during the course of pregnancy, with no added risk. The only issue with spaying a pregnant cat is that it would lead to the termination of the pregnancy. Besides, as removing uterus containing embryos (developing kittens) along with ovaries is extra work, most vets charge an additional fee for spaying a pregnant cat.
Should You Spay a Pregnant Cat?
Pregnant cats can be spayed at any stage of pregnancy. So, should you spay your pregnant cat? It is a controversial, intimidating, and difficult decision to make—no matter what decision you make, something valuable is lost. We advise consulting your vet and listening to what both factions—pro-life and pro-population control—have to say and consider factors like pregnant cat health and how long the cat is pregnant before deciding.
Reasons For Spaying Your Pregnant Cat
Before we continue, please note that deciding to spay a pregnant cat is equally difficult and emotive for its proponents. They, too, love cats. In fact, they are deciding on spaying their pregnant cat for their love for felines.
Below we have listed the reasons that make the decision to spay a pregnant cat sound pragmatic.
There are Just Too Many Homeless Cats
Cats are precocious and prolific breeders. An unspayed cat (queen) and her intact offspring can bring about 420,000 kittens into this world over a period of seven years.
Kittens sexually mature and become able to get pregnant at the young age of 4 months. So, given that the cat’s gestation period is about 9 weeks, your unspayed 6-month-old kitten might be birthing a litter of kittens on her 6th birthday. If left unspayed, cats can get pregnant again quickly after birth—even while nursing. If left unspayed beyond the age of 4 months, the male kittens in the litter may end up impregnating the females and even the queen, leading to yet more kittens.
There are already too many homeless cats in the world. According to People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), around 60 to 100 million cats are roaming the US streets alone. For these stray cats, road accidents, hunger, and poor living condition is the norm.
So, as responsible cat owners, if we are not planning on breeding them, we must get our cats spayed before they hit puberty—which happens around 4 to 6 months.
Spaying Prevent Euthanasia of Kittens or Older Cats in Shelters
The increasing cat population is maxing out cat shelters, which often end up euthanizing cats. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), approximately 530,000 cats are euthanized each year in shelters to make room for new kittens. So by spaying the pregnant cat, you can prevent those new kittens that become the reason for the euthanasia of older cats and kittens from the last year, so that room could be made for the coming kittens.
Pregnancy is Hard On Young Kittens and Old Cats
Involving scores of developmental and hormonal changes, pregnancy is hard on young and old queens. The phase of pregnancy ends with strenuous labor and birthing. When the kittens have made it to this world, the mama cat has to nurse them for around three to four weeks.
If the queen is not in her best health, pregnancy might lead to further deterioration of the queen’s health. Similarly, young kittens and senior cats are more prone to experiencing health issues due to pregnancies.
So, it is best to get your cat spayed.
Spaying Increase the Chances of Adoption of Rescued Cats
Would you want to adopt a pregnant cat?
Most cat lovers do not—cannot. They adore pregnant queens and would love to have one give birth to a litter of kittens under their care. But they either do not have the resources or they just cannot provide the level of care that is required by the pregnant cat and newborn kittens. So if there is a pregnant cat in a shelter, she would probably remain there until she gives birth to kittens. After that, she will have to nurse them for about four to six weeks.
If the cat is spayed, the pregnancy will be terminated, and the cat will be ready for adoption.
Factors to Consider While Deciding On Spaying Your Pregnant Cat
How Long is Your cat Pregnant For?
While a pregnant cat can be spayed at any stage during the pregnancy, how long is the cat pregnant for must always be considered. If a cat is in the early stages of pregnancy, spaying the cat is advised without wasting any time—the sooner, the better and easier the decision. If the cat is into the late stages of pregnancy, a good home should be found for the kittens, and pregnancy should be allowed to proceed. Other factors like a cat’s age, health, and ability to care for a pregnant cat would also be considered here.
Can You Care For a Pregnant Cat and Kittens?
Pregnant cats and newborn kittens need special care. Besides critical care, caring for a pregnant cat and then the newborn kittens cost a lot in vet visits. This could be unmanageable for most cat owners. So, if you think you won’t be able to provide the best care to your queen, you should get her spayed and terminate the pregnancy, especially if it is in the early stages. It is the only wise thing to do.
You should terminate the pregnancy if the queen is either too young or too old. Kittens can get pregnant at the young age of four months if left unspayed. Expecting your kitten, that is still not fully developed herself, to have a litter of kittens is inappropriate. It would be detrimental to the young queen’s health as well as that of the newborn kitten. Similarly, senior cats are not able to support pregnancy without experiencing related health issues. So, it is best that pregnancy is terminated when the queen is either too young or too old.
Overall Health of the Cat
Pregnancy in poor health could be life-threatening for the mother cat and kittens. If the cat is in bad health, the 9 weeks of pregnancy, pains of labor, and strenuous task of nursing kittens for about four to six weeks would be tiring for an unhealthy queen. Therefore, if your cat is in poor health, you should discuss with your vet if continuing pregnancy would have any negative impact on the health of the queen and kittens and act accordingly.
Have You Found Good Homes For Kittens?
Pregnant cats do not need much extra care, but the real challenge is caring for the litter of kittens (which could be anywhere between one to 12 kittens). Before you let the pregnancy continue, you should make sure that you have found good homes for the potential number of kittens in the litter. If you were unable to find good homes for all the kittens, you should proceed with spaying the cat while considering other factors discussed above.
Can a Cat Get Pregnant Right After Being Spayed?
No, cats cannot get pregnant after being spayed. In spaying, cats’ ovaries and the uterus is removed, which makes them infertile for the rest of their life. Let alone getting pregnant, your cat would not even experience heat cycles.
However, if your pregnant cat is acting as if she is on heat, you should contact your vet, as there is a chance that not all the ovarian tissues were removed during the procedure.
How To Avoid Unwanted Pregnancy in Cats?
Whether to continue cat pregnancy or terminate it is not an easy decision to make—no matter what decision you make, something valuable is lost. Therefore, to avoid going through such emotional pain, we strongly advise getting your kittens spayed or neutered before they grow four months old.
Though there are some drugs that can inhibit your cat from going into heat, they are not always effective and are said to have some side effects like breast cancer and feline urinary tract infection. Therefore, it is best that you get your kittens fixed before they hit puberty.