Does Spaying A Pregnant Cat Kill The Kittens?

pregnant cat on the floor

I have been on both sides of the emotional spectrum when it comes to cats. I have witnessed the amazing experience of seeing my friend’s foster cat give birth. And I have also remained silent and teary-eyed watching another foster cat slowly pass away on his bed due to illness.

The circle of life can be an emotional roller coaster ride. But I have to admit that seeing such tiny little kittens pop out of a cat makes me marvel at the wonders of mother nature.

Welcoming a new life into the world is a happy experience. However, when it comes to cats, it can happen far too often. Will you end the life of all the unborn kittens if you spay pregnant cats?

The probability of the unborn kittens surviving when spaying pregnant cats will be very slim. It also depends on how late in the pregnancy the pregnant cat is. Terminating the pregnancy via a spaying procedure isn’t safe for both the mother cat and her kittens.

Let us take a closer look at the complications that can arise from spaying a pregnant cat and whether you should it.

What Happens When A Female Cat Is Spayed?

cat getting spayed

Spaying is the layman’s term for a surgical procedure known as an ovariohysterectomy. To spay a female cat means to remove her ovaries and uterus.

Once this is done, she will no longer be able to reproduce.

A similar procedure in male cats is commonly known as neutering where the testicles are removed.

Why It Is Important To Spay Your Cat?

Kittens are really cute to look at but don’t let their adorable looks deceive you. A cat as young as 4 months old is able to reproduce.

A female cat can have up to 200 kittens during her entire life. Can you even imagine having that many kids? Even 2 kids are enough to drive most parents up the wall.

The main reason for spaying cats is population control.

Hundreds and thousands of newborn kittens are being born every day and there is only so much space that our local animal shelters have.

A great number of cats are euthanized due to the lack of resources and space in cat shelters. And we need to do what we can to bring this number down. Either via adoption drives or sterilizing our cats.

How Late Can You Spay A Pregnant Cat?

There isn’t a fixed cut-off date when it comes to spaying a pregnant cat. A pregnant female cat will carry her unborn kittens for about 62 days before going into labor.

The most ideal time to spay a female is before she reaches sexual maturity. This puts a complete zero possibility of her ever getting pregnant.

It is also possible to spay a cat that is approaching her full term. Spaying a cat so late into her pregnancy is as good as aborting the kittens. For a cat to be spayed so late into her term, the cat will appear to have sides that are very sunken in.

I have spoken to a nurse at my vet clinic and she said that she has helped out with spaying pregnant cats at all stages of pregnancy. Even when it is very close to labor.

In such cases, it can be possible to see the unborn kittens struggling to survive in the discarded uterus.

It is hard for them to see a tiny kitten fighting to survive and ignore it.

So they will do what they can to rescue the kitten and start to bottle feed it. Even though some do survive the spaying procedure, many don’t last longer than a few weeks.

Those that do are quickly adopted out by fosters.

Side Effects Of Spaying A Pregnant Cat

As a rule of thumb, the earlier she is into her pregnancy, the safer the surgical procedure will be.

There is always a risk when an animal or human is out under anesthesia for an operation. And with the pregnant cat’s body being more strained due to the wild changes in her hormones and the stress of carrying her kittens, there can be sudden complications during the procedure.

The process of losing one’s kitten can leave some cats feeling depressed after the abortion. It is a traumatizing time for them which can cause confusion and anxiety.

Given that spaying requires the cat’s womb and uterus to be taken out, a larger incision has to be made to accommodate the unborn kittens.

The larger the unborn kittens are, the longer and wider the incision has to be. This would mean additional downtime for the female cat and a higher risk of getting an infection at the surgical site.

The good news is most pregnant female cats are able to recover well after being spayed, but the chances of her young kittens surviving are very slim.

These kittens are yet to be fully developed and can’t survive outside of their mother cats.

Does It Cost More To Spay A Pregnant Cat?

A typical spaying procedure can cost between $300-$500, depending on the current health condition of the cat.

Once the spaying is done, your cat is able to go home to recover.

For pregnant females, it can be more expensive depending on how far into the pregnancy your cat is.

If more time and resources are needed, it will add to the vet bill. Your cat might have to be hospitalized for a day or two as well before being discharged.

Should I Spay A Pregnant Cat?

This is going to be a hard one to answer and it also depends on whether it is your own cat or a stray.

If the cat belongs to you and you have made up your mind to get it spayed, it is best to do it best before it gets further into the pregnancy. Although there isn’t a cut-off date for spaying a pregnant cat, the longer you wait increases the risk of complications.

Furthermore, there are some vets that won’t spay a pregnant cat too close to full term as they consider it to be killing kittens.

If it was a random stray cat that turned up at your home, it might be an easier decision to just spay the pregnant female to control the cat overpopulation problem.

There are 60-100 million homeless cats roaming the streets in America. And more than 500,000 cats are euthanized each year. I think we can all agree that we already have more cats than we can handle and that we have a serious cat overpopulation problem.

If you have people that are ready to adopt the kittens then it might be fine to spay after the female cat has given birth. Otherwise, we are only adding to the problem and to the already overcrowded shelters.

Adding new kittens to our no-kill shelters will derive more of the existing cats from being adopted.

It is a never-ending vicious cycle that needs to be stopped one way or another.

Can A Pregnant Cat Be Spayed And Still Have Kittens?

You might know of a couple that still managed to get pregnant even after the husband or wife had their tubes tied.

The chances of a pregnancy happening after the cat has been spayed is almost close to zero. With the uterus and ovaries removed, it is impossible for the cat to get pregnant.

Can A Cat Nurse Kittens After Being Spayed?

spayed cat nursing her kittens

If you planning to have your cat spayed after giving birth to her litter, you don’t have to worry about your cat not being able to feed her kittens. A cat who is spayed while nursing can still produce enough milk to feed her litter.

If it was me, I would wait until the mother cat has completely weaned her kittens off her milk before doing the procedure.

The mammary gland development of the queen can make the spaying procedure more difficult. Furthermore, the surgical area will be sore and tender after the operation.

The last thing we want is for her overactive kittens to put pressure on the stitches and cause them to burst.


Truth be told, if I have to make the decision to spay a pregnant female cat, it will be a very difficult one to make. On one hand, I don’t wish to be sending the newly born kittens to an animal shelter nor do I wish to prematurely terminate the life of an unborn kitten.

But sometimes, the most difficult decision will be the right one to make.