Cat reproduction and Mating
Since the female is less sensitive to environmental changes when in
heat, she is brought to the tom for breeding. Once the cats get together,
the mating process doesn't last very long – only about half of a minute
to about 3 minutes. First the male bites the female's neck, mounts
her and positions himself on top of her. He then thrusts his pelvis
into her and finally penetrates her, which usually only lasts about
During this last phase or shortly thereafter, the female will scream
and attempt to break free by turning, rolling or striking the male
with her paw. Then she will have a so-called “after-reaction” where
she'll roll or thrash and clean herself. This after-reaction may last
up to 8 minutes.
The time intervals between matings may be as short as 5 minutes or
as long as half an hour. A female may allow up to 30 matings, and
studies have shown that if only one single mating is allowed only
50 percent of the queens will get pregnant. Queens are not too particular.
They will allow mating will various males and this can result in a
variety of different fathers for the same litter. Each kitten has
only one father and kittens within the same litter may all have different
A cat reaches reproductive maturity between five and nine months of age, or upon the time they reach 4.5 to 7.0 pounds in weight. It is possible for domestic longhaired and shorthaired cats, as well as feral cats, may reach sexual maturity faster than purebred breeds and indoor cats.
Female cats have heat patterns that last between seven and twenty-one
days. If the animal is not impregnated, her heat patterns may become
irregular, with periods of non-heat becoming brief, often as short
as two days. When experiencing estrus, or heat, a female cat may make
loud, howling sounds, and rub themselves along the floor with the
tail raised. Heat cycles are most common between January and September,
when the amount of daylight is longer, but can occur at any time.
Seasonal reproduction is encouraged by the warmer temperatures as
Once a suitable male has encountered the female, copulation quickly
ensues, as usually results in a pregnancy. The duration of gestation
in cats lasts from fifty-six to seventy-one days, with the average
length being sixty-one days. The average number of litters that a
female can produce within one year is three to five, with the average
litter containing four to six kittens.
The birthing process is called queening, and preparations for this
process should begin several weeks ahead of time. Giving the female
a box in which to birth in should be done, and it should be lined
with blankets or towels. At queening, the box should be lined with
newspapers in order to aid in soaking up any fluids.