Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:
My daughter’s cat had kittens by my boyfriend’s daughter’s cat, and we kept the one male kitten since the kittens’ father sadly died shortly afterwards. I wasn’t financially able to spay the mom cat at that stage, and now I think she might be pregnant with her son’s kittens. Is it dangerous? Should I have the kittens aborted if she is indeed pregnant? I feel terrible that I didn’t make a plan sooner, but I don’t want her to bring sick and suffering kittens into the world.
Thomas: Oh, Heidi, you’ve just come across one of the most unfortunate realities of cat care: cats have no incest taboo.
Bella: Mother cats and their kittens can and do mate. It certainly increases the risk for birth defects and other problems because kittens created through a mother-child mating can get double copies of bad genes.
Tara: That said, however, breeders have been known to mate kittens back to parents in order to develop “desired traits” of the breed. We have a few choice words about that, but we’ll save them for another time.
Thomas: The first thing you’re going to have to do is to determine whether or not mom-cat is pregnant. The average gestation period for a cat is 63 to 65 days, or about two months, and you may not see any outward signs of pregnancy until the last couple of weeks.
Bella: A veterinarian will be able to tell you if your cat is pregnant, because they’ll be able to feel the kittens when they’re still tiny.
Tara: If your mom cat is pregnant, your vet can still spay her. It will be more risky because pregnancy brings extra blood flow to the uterus and increases the risk of bleeding. But plenty of vets have spayed pregnant cats with no problems.
Thomas: We’d actually recommend that you have both mom and son “fixed” as soon as you can. If she’s not pregnant, this will prevent future problems, and if she is, it will mean that one more litter of “oops” kittens won’t need to find homes.
Bella: And getting the boy cat neutered will mean he won’t spray nasty-smelling boy-cat urine all over the place!
Tara: We know spaying and neutering can be expensive, but fortunately, there’s a lot of help available.
Thomas: First, we’d recommend you check with the shelters in your area to see if they do low-cost spay/neuter. If they don’t, maybe they know a clinic in your area that does, or that can provide vouchers to use with local vets. We’ve listed some of the nationwide resources in this post.
Bella: So, Heidi, long story short: If you’ve seen the cats mate, mama cat is definitely pregnant. If you haven’t, she still may be pregnant if she was in heat for any amount of time. You’ll have to take her to the vet to find out for sure.
Tara: Once you’ve found out, you have two choices. If she’s not pregnant, get her spayed asap so that doesn’t happen. If she is pregnant, talk with the vet and let them know that the kittens are from a mother-child mating. They may have recommendations about whether or not to abort the kittens.
Thomas: Spaying a pregnant cat is slightly riskier than spaying a non-pregnant one, but it’s done regularly enough that most vets know how to deal with it.
Bella: It’s not a certain thing that mother-child mating kittens will suffer and be sick, but it definitely helps to concentrate harmful genes.
Tara: Ultimately it’s up to you to decide what you want to do if your mama cat is pregnant. Mama says that if it were her, she’d go with the veterinarian’s advice about whether or not to spay if she’s pregnant.
Thomas: We hope this helps. We also hope your mama cat isn’t pregnant because this will make your decisions a lot easier.
Bella: What about you other readers? Have you ever had a mother-child cat mating? How did the kittens turn out?
Tara: Have you had a pregnant cat spayed? Did it turn out okay?
Thomas: And if it were you in Heidi’s situation, what would you do? Please share your answers in the comments!