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Hot cats in heat

Written By: Jane Davidson RVN

The weather predictions on our summer heatwave lasting until October seem to have been true (at least where I live in London!) as I’m still in sandals and I have no idea where I have stored my winter coat.

We have seen that while it’s been lovely having holiday weather for an extended period it has caused some issues for our pets’ health. The heat has made walking dogs almost a nocturnal activity and many brachycephalic pets have been under house arrest near a fan for quite some time. However, there is one ‘side effect’ of the extended heatwave that might not make the news in the same way as other pet issues.

There is currently, and for the near future, going to be a kitten boom as for unneutered cats, as an extended period of warm weather will extend their breeding period.

Kitten season

Cats have a very different breeding cycle to dogs and it is dependent on female cats (known as queens) coming into season when the weather is warmer and the days longer. You can read more about it at International Cat Care.

In the UK, we usually have our ‘kitten season’ between March and October, when we have better weather and longer days. Although cats are seen as prolific breeders this is because their kittens would normally have had many predators in the wild and the best way to ensure survival of at least some kittens was to produce as many as possible. Cats can come into season every 2 weeks and can also be pregnant again as quickly as 4 weeks after giving birth.

In a normal breeding season this means a cat could easily have 10-18 kittens, being pregnant every month and having on average 5 kittens per litter.  Check out the facts on cat breeding from Cats Protection.

With an extended breeding season of another month or more that’s easily another 4-5 kittens per unneutered queen... and that adds up to a lot of kittens.

Double trouble

This also means many of these late season kittens will be at risk from the winter weather in November and December as cats are pregnant for around two months... so if we have warm weather in October those kittens are likely to be born in December. This has a double impact as many cat rescues and charities rely on having the winter months to recover from the hectic and costly kitten season and aim to spend as much time as possible rehoming cats and neutering stray cats. If they still have full kitten wards in December they will have a very difficult winter.

The kittens being born to stray cats in November and December are also more likely to struggle to survive as the weather will be much colder. Cats rely on having kittens in good weather so they have the best chance of survival with minimal need to find warm or dry nests. This may mean that cat rescues also have an increased number of sick kittens to take care of.

Can you help?

This all might sound a bit doom and gloom when surely more kittens in the world can only ever be a good thing? Sadly, many of these unplanned kittens will be born to cats with no home or owner and so are very vulnerable.

If you are aware of any cats living outdoors or breeding then contact a charity that could help trap and neuter them. The larger charities that can help include the RSPCA, Cats Protection and Wood Green Animal Shelter. You may also find local charities that work with cat colonies in your area.


You may be able to help in the most obvious way by rehoming a cat or kitten but you may also be able to donate some cat or kitten food. You can also donate your time in many places and help to socialise the cats and kittens while they wait for a new home. Everything helps and this winter your help is going to be needed more than ever.

Links to cat help websites

RSPCA – click here

Cats Protection – click here

Wood Green Animal Shelter – click here

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