Heat cycles: Female cats go into heat thought out the year here in South Florida. Do to weather factors, most cats will go into heat in January or February of each year. Heat cycles in the female cats are regulated by the weather. The weather affects cats at the same time, creating a surge in pregnant cats at the same time. Female cats can, and often do, become pregnant while still nursing a litter of kittens. Most cats go into heat three times a year, and due to our warm weather, possibly even four times. A cat, unlike a dog, will keep repeating a heat cycle until she gets pregnant. Dogs go into heat twice a year, whether or not they get pregnant.

Kitten Seasons & Pregnancy: Pregnancy is 8-1/2 weeks from conception and kittens are up for adoption at 8 weeks of age. There are usually three seasons per year of 8 week old kittens: April/May, July/August, and October/November.

Weather: In addition to affecting the heat cycles on a female cat, a change of weather can stop a mating season instantly. Weather also affects kittens under 4 weeks of age. Cold, wet weather can kill kittens under 4 weeks of age.


 Estimating Age of Kittens:The following guidelines are useful for estimating the age of the kittens:

·        Under 1 week: Eyes are shut, ears are down, and they don’t walk.

·        1-2 weeks: Eyes start to open — they are blue — and ears begin to open. They crawl and knead.

·         3 weeks: Eyes and ears fully open. They respond to noises and movement and take their first steps.

·        4-6 weeks: Kittens run, play, dig and pounce. They are starting to wean, and eyes change from blue to their adult color.

·        8 weeks: Kittens look like small versions of adult cats. This is the best age at which to begin socialization.

Mama Cat:

“If the kittens are alone when you find them, they could be abandoned, or the mother could simply be looking for food,” says Becky Robinson, Alley Cat Allies president. She suggests observing them for an hour, depending on the kitten’s needs and a person’s time and resources.  Don't get too close or she may feel unable to safely return.

If the mother cat doesn’t return, determine if the kittens are young enough to be socialized and fostered or adopted, or if they are old enough to be trapped, neutered, and returned using the age guideline above, Robinson said. If they are not weaned, they need bottle-feeding and round-the-clock care.

If the mother does return, keep in mind that her care is best for the kittens, and they should stay with her until they are at least 5-6 weeks old.  Contact your local no kill rescue to make arrangements to find a home for the cat family.  If mama cat is friendly, they will trap her, pick up the kittens, and bring them indoors to a confined area until the kittens are adoptable.

If the mother is feral, it's recommended to leave the family outside and provide shelter, food and water. Once the kittens are weaned, they can be put into foster care for adoption.  If kittens are not handled by 5-6 weeks, they’re not socialized to humans. This makes them feral and difficult to adopt .  Be sure to spay the mother cat — so there are not future litters — and spay/neuter the kittens.



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