How Cats Breed An experienced veterinary expert explains cat sex. My earliest cat sex education came courtesy of the barn cats that were mating under my bedroom window. Duke was a big, black, longhaired tom cat who lived in the shadows of our farm. His mistress that night was Punkin, an orange tabby barn cat. Looking and sounding more like a brawl than mating — with fur flying, vocal cords stretched like piano wires and teeth clamping — the actual copulation took only a few seconds.
The courtship between Duke and Punkin was certainly more leisurely, taking place in a complex ballet of behavior that lasted a few hours. Cat Breeding Season When it comes to cat sex, the male tom and female queen are romantically different. In nature, females come into season during the winter solstice, as daylight and temperatures increase, giving birth 60 to 65 days later when food is most abundant.
In controlled cat colonies, with 14 hours of light, 10 hours of darkness and constant temperatures, female cats will breed year-round. The queen is able to bear young as early as 7 months of age and is fertile until 7 to 9 years of age. What makes cats unique among companion animals is that once in season, or heat, they are induced to release eggs from the ovary by the physical act of mating.
This is also why queens stay in heat estrus for 2 to 19 days. To survive in nature, it is necessary for cats to mate multiple times by the same or different partners. In fact, studies show that cats that copulate once get pregnant only 50 percent of the time. The interval between the end of one heat cycle and the beginning of the next is typically every seven days, but can be anywhere from two days to three weeks.
Susan Little, DVM, board-certified feline practitioner who practices at Bytown Cat Hospital in Ottawa, Canada, says that the length of the interval depends on the cat breed, season, social dynamics and whether or not an intact non-neutered male is present. This can look like infrequent cycling. With silent estrus, queens have all the normal hormonal events of estrus, but show no behavior indicative of being in heat.
This typically happens to shy queens who are dominated by prevailing queens in a home, or to a queen housed alone with no exposure to an intact male. About 20 percent of queens have a pre-heat, during which they make shrill, discordant caterwauling noises, rub up against anything and everything, roll, tread in place or claw themselves forward on the carpet while dragging slightly elevated hindquarters.
Cat owners often mistake these antics for an indication of extreme pain. However, this feline break-dance is simply a way to attract a partner. When a queen needs to attract a tom from a distance, she puts up the olfactory equivalent of billboard advertising. His thick skin and muscles help him win battles with rival males.
Although the stalking courtship may take hours, mating lasts from 1 to 4 minutes and actual penetration and ejaculation only takes a few seconds. During copulation, the queen will scream and attempt to break free by turning and rolling like an alligator with dinner in its mouth, or strike at the tom with her claws. In what looks like a judo move, the tom grasps her by the neck with his teeth to prevent her from biting him.
This reaction may last up to 10 minutes. The queen is typically ready to mate again in as little as five minutes or up to 30 minutes, and may allow up to 30 matings in a heat cycle with multiple toms. This increases the genetic diversity of the offspring.
A single litter could produce offspring from a variety of fathers, but each individual kitten has only one father. The Pregnant Cat A pregnant queen remains physically active from conception to birth, a period of about two months. An experienced person can tell if a cat is pregnant by what feels like a string of pearls in the abdomen, starting at about day 16 of pregnancy. A veterinarian can use ultrasound to check the development and heart rate of the fetuses from day 26 to birth.
Call it a feline neighborhood watch.