Cat Parenting 101: Special Considerations for Your Female Cat

grey cat with yellow eyes
Boys and girls, guys and gals, chicks and dudes – no matter what you call 'em, they each have their own needs that we as pet parents must take into consideration. For your female cat, in particular, there are several special traits she'll need you to be aware of as she goes through life.
Whether you're already the proud parent of a female cat or you're trying to decide on the sex of your next adorable adoptee, here's the scoop on a few qualities unique to the ladies.

A Female Cat in Heat

cat meowing
First things first: yes, if your female cat isn't spayed, she will have a fertility cycle. In feline terms, this is called "heat" and a female cat in heat is referred to as a "queen."
While many pet parents neuter their male cats simply for the fact that neutered males are less aggressive and more hygienic (i.e., they're less likely to spray urine to mark their territory), deciding whether or not to spay your female cat involves many other factors.
If you decide against spaying, your female cat may be more prone to certain health issues, she will go into heat every three weeks in breeding season, and she may one day have a litter of ridiculously cute kittens, should she meet a handsome tomcat.
Even if the idea of being a cat grandparent makes you giddy, coping with a female cat in heat may not. Unspayed female cats will go into heat in the spring and the fall, for most breeds. During this time - which lasts about 4 to 5 days and occurs about every three weeks - your female cat will be:
  • Extremely vocal
  • Obsessed with rubbing against things in order to get her scent on as many surfaces as possible
  • Far more likely to attempt an escape, especially if she senses a male cat is outside
  • More likely to lick her genital area frequently, which may increase the risk of infection
A female cat can go into heat as early as four months of age and it signals that she's ready and able to have kittens. However, a cat who gets pregnant before she's at least 10 months old is far more likely to have health problems as her body is still developing.
According to the ASPCA, "Spaying helps prevent uterine infections and breast tumors, which are malignant or cancerous in about 50 percent of dogs and 90 percent of cats. Spaying your pet before her first heat offers the best protection from these diseases."
Of course, if you plan to breed your pretty kitty, consult with your veterinarian to ensure you can take as many measures as possible to keep her safe and healthy without spaying her.

False Pregnancy

cat at vet
When a female cat becomes pregnant and is awaiting her litter of kittens, it's referred to as "queening." (We'll pause for a moment to let you go hashtag crazy with that one on social media.)
However, like humans, a female cat who has not been spayed could present with signs of pregnancy, but not actually have a litter on the way at all. In that case, she's not actually queening; rather, she's showing signs of false pregnancy.
Much like women, a female cat can show signs of pregnancy such as abdominal distention (a growing or bulging tummy), enlargement of the mammary glands (breast tissue), and even morning sickness (vomiting and loss of appetite).
The best way to tell for sure if your cat is queening is:
  • To feel gently on your cat's belly
  • Visiting the vet for an ultrasound after day 16 of her possible pregnancy
  • Getting an x-ray of your cat's tummy
If your cat isn't pregnant, but she's showing several signs of pregnancy, then she's having a false pregnancy. It's not clear what causes this phenomenon, but vets believe it's most likely due to a hormone imbalance.
If your female cat experiences a false pregnancy, consider taking her to the vet for a check up to make sure everything is OK.

Birthing Issues

cat with vet cone
Being in charge of giving life to new beings is a doozy of a responsibility (am I right, ladies?). Understandably, then, female cats who have not been spayed often deal with problems during the birthing process.
If your female cat has been unable to birth kittens or, tragically, has birthed still born kittens, she may be dealing with one or more of these issues:
  • Fetal Reabsorption – If a fetus is not viable, the mother cat's body will reabsorb the fetal tissue into her body. It is common for pieces to be found in the afterbirth when this happens. This is far more common if the mother cat has the FeLV virus.
  • Uterine Cysts – Cysts that are attached to the ovaries or uterus can cause hormonal imbalances and disrupt the development of healthy kittens.
  • Endometritis – A female cat with endometritis will develop a bacterial infection in her uterus that can kill any unborn kittens growing in her womb. In many cases, cats with endometritis are unable to breed again in the future; though in mild cases of infection, breeding may be possible with treatment.
As any woman can confirm, it's not easy being a female cat. Understanding the special health issues female cats are prone to, especially if they are not spayed, can go a long way toward helping you be the best cat parent you can be.
Do you have a female cat? Tell us all about her in the comments below! Every queen deserves to be celebrated.

Do you have a beautiful cat? Let us know in the comments!

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Rai Cornell
Rai Cornell

Author



21 Responses

Sheryl Novak
Sheryl Novak

January 29, 2019

My furr-beauty is my best friend! She communicates with me on a level no human could ever compare! She’s about 10 years old now and she has kept me sane through my life’s challenges over the past few years. She’s my rock! …and my soft fluffy pillow!

Trish
Trish

January 23, 2019

To Kristine,
My older female was getting repeated urinary tract infections. After several treatments with antibiotics I was given a perscription for a special prescription cat food called Urinary-SO from her vet. She has not had one UTI since being on this prescription diet. I hope this will be the cure for yours too.

Billie R Ragner
Billie R Ragner

January 23, 2019

I have two female cats. The first was obtained from a shelter and the second was found wandering on a busy street in a commercial area. The first cat was spayed when I got her and the second cat, I had spayed before she went into heat. I also have two male cats that are neutered and decided that four was enough to take care of, however, I love them all dearly and don’t know what I would do without them.

Merry
Merry

January 23, 2019

My neutered male mini panther MacGyver was aggressive and a real pain, until I adopted Miss Mattie. She is a silver Tabby with tufts of hair on her ears like a lynx. Mattie was a stray with kittens- before she was spayed by the rescue. She immediately took over the house and Mac. Hilarious to watch Mr Ego totally put in his place by a mama cat. They get along great now and peace is so nice. Mac is a predator and no mouse, bug, or snake that gets in our rural house lives. I use a calming diffuser too. Pretty litter is the only way I can deal with them. I can’t lift the clumping kind anymore because of a broken shoulder. Even cleaning the box was hard. I had switched Mac to Prettylitter before Mattie. I got her a box too but they seem to prefer using the same one so back to a large covered one. I get 8 lbs a month and it is SO much easier and ecological to use! Only poop to throw out and no smell- until it’s time to change it out anyway. I love your product and my cats do too. So grateful I tried it!!!

Ariel
Ariel

January 23, 2019

After our last kitty passed two years ago (age 15) my husband missed her so much and suggested we get another. We are seniors and I said we must adopt an older kitty, not a kitten. We adopted Golda (then age 8) from our Human Society. She loves Pretty Litter and so do we! No smell and no chunks of ‘sand’ in our bathroom! Golda is a big tortie-colored Maine Coone Daddy’s girl and adores my British husband. Me? I’m just a can-opener with legs.

Radean Prichard
Radean Prichard

January 23, 2019

My kids love pretty litter, so much and it’s healthier for them. Easier to keep clean. I’ve used it even when my budget can’t get it.

Rai Cornell
Rai Cornell

January 18, 2019

@Diane – It’s still safe to spay a female cat after she’s a year old, but she may have already gone through some sexual maturity so her personality and behaviors will be a bit different than if she had been spayed as a kitten. Think of it like an older woman getting a hysterectomy – the procedure is still safe, but there may be some hormonal adjustments. I recommend talking to your vet about what you can expect in terms of how her hormones may adjust and affect her health.

Rai Cornell
Rai Cornell

January 18, 2019

@Lori – That’s wonderful news! We’re so glad to hear PrettyLitter has helped!

@Linda – Hahaha! Isn’t it great when you feel like your pet picked you instead of the other way around. It’s funny sometimes how they end up in our lives and it feels meant to be. :)

@Cyndi – Awwww, what a great idea! Yes, PrettyLitter is much softer on those little pink toes than other forms of litter. I’m glad your kittens are taking to it well!

Trueska
Trueska

January 18, 2019

I have a two year old fixed female Turkish Angora-Lucy Liu. When I first received Pretty Litter her and the two fixed Turk boys were hesitant to use it. (I only use it in one box – I maintain 5 total.)
Lucy used it and then the boys became interested. As the weeks progressed, by week three Lucy decided it was her litter box. She will not let the boys use it if she knows about it.

When my sister came to visit she saw firsthand Lucy protecting “her” litter. I told her- when you stop to think about it, girls and boys do have separate bathrooms.

Are females different? You bet. And she only uses it for #1. #2 she takes to the boys litter. Lol

Nancy J. Smith
Nancy J. Smith

January 18, 2019

This was a good article about female cats. I found this cute female 11 week old tortoise shell kitten living under this store near us. We’re in a rural area. We had her spayed when she got older, about 4 months. We adopted her. After reading this article, we’re glad we had her spayed. She is really sweet, and loves to chase my other two male cats who are about 6 years old. They were neutered when they were 4 months old too. I am a big advocate of spaying and neutering. There are so many unwanted puppies and kittens in the world. I think if Vets would chose a day or month, and spay and neuter animals for a lesser fee or for free, maybe more people would get their dogs and cats spayed and neutered. Thanks for posting this article. :-)

Dorothy Banks
Dorothy Banks

January 18, 2019

Yes, I have a Beautiful and she is still spoiled rotten. We got her from the Humane Society and she was real skinny when we brought her home. But not so now.. She weighs 15 pounds. She is a calico and we love the sand that we get from you but I tried the food and she doesn’t like it.

Heidi Hanson
Heidi Hanson

January 18, 2019

Spay and neuter your cats! Please! There are soooo many cats out there that are euthanized because they have no where to go. Letting your cat get pregnant cuz you think it will be cute is not cool.

Jenny Strozer
Jenny Strozer

January 18, 2019

My gorgeous girl is an orange tabby. I just found out that female orange tabby’s are rare. Her name is Clementine (Clemmie) I was just suppose to keep her overnight till my friend could find a foster but I was in love after 2 minutes of meeting her. (4yrs ago now).
I have 4 male cats but she is MY GIRL!

Kathryn Bates
Kathryn Bates

January 18, 2019

I have a gorgeous Siamese female. She’s a rescue, so is definitely spayed. There are enough kittens out there without homes! She’s a Siamese, so she’s definitely Queen of the House and she knows it. She is very outspoken if her water or food dish are empty, and if she’s getting an insufficiency of attention. And she sits on my books. I think she believes that books are just part of the lap – and designed for her to “center” on.

Lori Ward
Lori Ward

January 18, 2019

For years my cat choose to poop in the pan whenever, which wasn’t as often as I would have liked. Now with pretty litter she can’t seem to poop enough in it. Thank you, you have solved one of my biggest issues with my cat.

Daniela
Daniela

January 18, 2019

I have a adorable girl kitten. She’s the sweetest, she loves to play, sleep and eat, haha. I got her from a shelter and they made sure she was spayed before I completed the adoption process. After reading this I am happy she has been spayed. She’s full of life and has not had any health issues. Btw her name is Anastacia, her name fits her sassy loving personality! (: & She also loves getting her treats! I’ve thought her how to sit before she gets one lol

Linda Taggatz
Linda Taggatz

January 17, 2019

I do have a gorgeous female. She is a calico tortie and is a bit of a diva. She is spayed. I also have a handsome hunky male orange tabby. He’s been neutered. They are from the same litter. I love them both but my girl picked me.

Cyndi Briggs
Cyndi Briggs

January 17, 2019

I am a hobby breeder of Siamese. I especially love pretty litter with litter training our kittens. It’s very gentle on their tiny pads. My queen Evie is a splendid mother.

Kristine
Kristine

January 18, 2019

My female cat came to me as a stray. She must have been previously owned though because she has no front claws and this is something I would never do. I have 3 other cats. She seems to get urinary infections often and when she does my other cats can sense it and tend to beat her up and look at her as a threat. I keep taking her to the vet and they just keep giving her antibiotics but it always comes back. I don’t know what to do anymore. The reason I found out about this was from your pretty litter. It kept turning a dark blue so I knew something was wrong. Any advice would be appreciated!

Emily Sandstrom
Emily Sandstrom

January 18, 2019

Apache birthed 7 kittens and they all stayed with her at the ranch. They were a pride. No fights. Four of them were female, and there were no kittens, and Apache did not have another litter. They were free to be in the house or out. Apache was a hunter (hence her name) and she roamed.

Diane Moorhouse
Diane Moorhouse

January 18, 2019

I just love my girl. We’ve had her almost a year now, and she’s the “Queen “ of our house. She was spayed by the shelter we got her from at about a year old. Can she develop problems from being spayed after a year?

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