Before mating, queens adopt ritualistic positions, crouching, calling and rolling around. During mating, the male takes a firm grip and appears to be in control.
He mating of cats is a complex and highly ritualised matter, involving a lot of distinct ‘come on’ signs and signals from a receptive female cat. It is also a very noisy business, as anyone will be prepared to testify who has lain awake half the night listening to all the shenanigans outside. Females usually come into season with the onset of warmer weather and increasing periods of daylight, so mating usually happens in the spring. The mating of cats is a noisy business involving a complex series of rituals.
FEMALE CAT MATING BEHAVIOUR
A female that is in oestrus shows more affection and becomes generally restless. She paces up and down and rolls around on the floor. She also urinates more frequently and then, a few days later, she enters the stage of full sexual receptivity. All the previous signs are intensified and she makes a characteristic howling cry known as the `call’. She croons as soon as she scents a male, and there will then probably be a period of mutual sniffing.
An interested torn approaches a female from behind and a receptive queen crouches down with her hind legs straddled. She lifts her rear in the presence of a tomcat, giving a concave curve to her spine. She pulls her tail to one side and makes repeated treading movements with her hind legs.
The male then mounts the female cat and seizes her by the scruff of the neck with his teeth. This may sound a bit savage but it is actually a defensive move on the male’s part because female cats often attack males during mating.
The way in which the male holds her by the scruff of the neck carries the memory of being held by the mother as a kitten and causes the female to immobilise herself. Mating is always brief, and a tom that knows what’s good for him makes his escape at this point because the queen is likely to jump on him.
Many female cats become pregnant in their first season and it is rare for them to experience any real problems. However, many breeders prefer to wait until a female’s second or third season, by which time she will be around one year of age.
Q. How soon after a litter of kittens are born is it possible for a queen to become pregnant again, if she is allowed to roam free?
It is possible for a cat to conceive again as early as a few days after giving birth and while she is still nursing her kittens.
A queen should not be allowed to have her first litter after the age of four or five years old.
It is possible for a vet to give a pregnant female a hormonal injection that will abort an accidental alliance, though it is better to let a pregnancy run its course because the injection may cause a hormonal imbalance which can make any subsequent deliberate mating infertile.
- A female cat comes into season for the first time at the age of about seven months.
- Siamese cats may be earlier than this, and Persians may be later.
- Both male and female cats are very promiscuous in their mating habits.
- Kittens are born 65 days after mating.
- Cats are capable of conceiving from several coatings, with the result that a cat can have a litter of kittens, each of which is by a different tom.
- Mating may be a violent matter, so supervise matings between pedigree show cats.