Have you ever heard of the term “seasonal breeding”? If not, seasonal breeding is the biological process of selectively breeding and reproducing offspring during certain seasons.
Cats are such seasonal breeders that they breed selectively for some parts of the season, not throughout the whole year.
So, what are these seasons in which they choose to have kittens? Is winter one of them? Are kittens even capable of surviving winters?
These questions naturally come to our mind when we first hear the fact that cats are seasonal breeders.
Let us see what relation does winter and reproducing kittens have with each other
Is It Possible For Cats To Get Pregnant In Winters?
No, it is not possible for cats to be pregnant in the winter. Cats do not experience any heat cycles during winter; hence, it is not possible for them to be pregnant during the colder months.
A cat must go into heat in order to become pregnant, regardless of the season. When they are in heat, it indicates that they are ready to mate with a tomcat and reproduce.
But if the cat does not go into heat, it means it does not want to mate or reproduce. That’s what happens in the winter.
Cats do not go into heat in winter, their bodies are made in such a way that they generally do not go into heat or have the urge to reproduce.
For a cat to go into heat, it requires more than 12 hours of sunlight, which is a little hard to achieve in the winter months. During winter, the days are shorter, so receiving more than 12 hours of natural light is not possible; hence, they do not go into heat in winter.
In a way, it is probably best because newborn kittens are extremely fragile and could die due to hypothermia or frostbite in moderately cold weather.
All in all, it is better that the cats don’t give birth during these months rather than lose their kids.
It is not that cats don’t go into heat in winter; if they are under artificial lights for enough time, they can go into heat, but those methods are used for the purposes of research.
Recently, due to global warming and indefinite weather changes, a few cases of cats being pregnant in the winter have emerged. It is naturally a little difficult to imagine a situation with a cat being pregnant in winter.
Can Kittens Be Born In Winter?
No kittens cannot be born in the winter. Cats are seasonal breeders, and their breeding season begins around springtime in the months of March and April and lasts up to fall around the month of October. Cats are not pregnant during the winter, and thus do not give birth to kittens.
Cats do not go into heat in the winter and are not pregnant. The reasons behind this are vast, but in a way, they are just as beneficial for both the cat and the kittens too.
In places where the temperatures drop too low, survival for these kittens would be very difficult.
Even when the weather is a little chilly, they are at high risk of exposure to hypothermia or frostbite.
The cold weather is known even to make adult cats vulnerable to many diseases, so imagine the potential risk it would expose to the newborn kittens, who are already too weak and whose immunity is nearly nonexistent.
Must Read: How Do Stray Cats Survive Winter?
But if your cat mates around the end of the season, there is a probable chance that it will give birth in the initial days of winter. Cases of cats giving birth deep into the winter season are not common.
Recently, a few have been reported, but a few exceptions are expected as the animals evolve with time.
This could also be due to increasing global warming as the global temperature rises and affects the weather worldwide. This has been shown to increase in the number of exceptional cases in recent years.
This was also reported by Washington Humane Society Shelter Director Michelle Otis when they reported, “They’re mating earlier, and we’re starting to see them coming into the shelters much earlier in the season.”Washington Humane Society Shelter Director Michelle Otis
Global warming is also predicted to cause a rise in the kitten population in the coming years.
Must Read: What Temperature Can Cats Stay Outside?
When Do Cats Have Kittens?
Cats have kittens during the warmer months of the year. The breeding season for cats starts around late March and ends in mid-October. They reproduce when a female cat goes into heat and mates with a tom cat during that period.
“The brain receives instructions to produce a hormone that basically initiates the heat cycle in a cat,” said Nancy Peterson, feral cat program manager of the Humane Society of the United States, “and those instructions are affected by the length of day and usually the rising temperatures of spring.”Nancy Peterson, feral cat program manager of the Humane Society of the United States
This also proves why they do not go in heat in winter as the instructing hormones are not released during these months and weather conditions.
When these hormones are released and the cats go into heat, they release a different hormone that gives off a distinct scent. When this scent reaches the tom cat, they get the message that the female cat is ready to mate and search for the female.
After mating, the cats give birth after approximately 65 days. Cats, as they do not reproduce in the winter, are seasonal breeders. They get in heat when the weather conditions around them are pleasant and adequate.
When the weather around is suitable, the brain transmits the message of the cat is in heat, and the cycle continues.
In recent years, cats have shown evolution, and many cases of cats being pregnant or giving birth in winter have been reported. The cat population during the kitten season is also reported to be increasing, and it is likely to increase more in the coming years.
Interesting Read: Can Cats Get Pregnant When Not In Heat?
Frequently asked questions
Why do cats don’t give birth in winter?
Cats do not give birth in winter because they do not go into heat. Without going into heat, cats are unable to mate and produce kittens.
In winter, the weather conditions are inadequate for the cat’s body to release the required hormones to go into heat, so cats do not mate or reproduce in the colder months.
Even the survival of newborn kittens is a little risky, as they are very sensitive and fragile and they need warmth in the initial days of their lives.
Do kittens born in winter survive long?
Kittens are not born in winter. Cats, being seasonal breeders, do not give birth to kittens in winter. But in recent times, due to global warming and evolution, cats have started to reproduce during winter.
Kittens born during that time are exposed to extreme weather conditions and could die. The survival of these kittens is a little difficult, but they can be helped by providing them warmth through artificial methods and other man-made machines.
These would help keep them warm and also survive until they grow up and can adapt to extreme conditions.
Producing offspring for humans is a year-round process, and they do not have qualms about when the baby is coming unless it is a planned pregnancy, but it is not the same for cats.
Cats are seasonal breeders and only produce offspring for a few months of the year. This period, also known as “kitten season,” lasts around 6 to 8 months, starting from late March to mid-October.
Cats do not go into heat during winter. The heat cycles for cats depend on the length of the days. In winter, days are shorter and progressively grow shorter. For the cat’s body to initiate the heat cycle, they require more than 12 hours of sunlight, which is naturally not possible in winter, hence they do not go into heat.
They go into heat in the warmer months, and those conditions are also well-suited for newborn kittens to live in. But in the coming years, it is predicted that the cat population will see an increase as the length of the days will not change due to global warming.
This would enable cats to give birth in any season. What do you think its a good thing or a danger?
Interesting Read: Do Cats Sleep More in Winter?