Mating Habits of Cats

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Mother cat holding baby kitten
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Cats have some pretty peculiar habits when it comes to mating. While a tomcat struts his stuff, acting like he's in charge, it's really the queen who calls the shots. If you have intact felines at home, be aware of their mating sounds and behaviors. Otherwise you could wind up with a litter of kittens soon.

Heat Cycles

Tomcats, or non-neutered males, are always on the prowl and ready to breed. Queens, or intact female felines, have to be in season. Generally, the breeding season for queens is between March and September annually. This is the time of year when she's exposed to long daylight hours, which activates her sexual hormones. Usually queens go in and out of heat cycles, although signs aren't always obvious, even if she is ovulating. Initial heat cycles start as young as 5 to 10 months of age. In early spring, your queen's cycles begin and last 14 to 21 days.

Tomcats in Rut

Often intact male kitties are sexually mature as early as 7 months of age. While tomcats can be ready to breed in the blink of an eye at any point in time, usually they're most sexually excited during the spring -- the same time their lady friends conveniently get ready for breeding. This peak of sexual awareness is called the "rut." Your tomcat may parade around the house like he owns the place, twitching the tip of his tail, treading with his back legs and picking fights with all the other animals in the house. This is the time period when he's also most likely to spray to mark his turf. His behavior should subside during off-peak breeding fall and winter months.

Calls of the Queen

When your pint-size queen is in heat, she'll make it known to all the tomcats in the neighborhood. In the first stage, called proestrus, your furry lady likely will have a ravenous appetite. She'll also probably make low-sounding short mews and seem restless. This stage only lasts for a couple days. The second stage of the mating season is called estrus, often referred to as "heat." For four to 10 days, your purring princess will not seem like herself. When you're around, she'll likely cling to you, weave around your legs and be affectionate. She'll be overly loud and talkative, making sharp sounds like she's in pain. This is her mating call, a sound used to attract a tomcat.

Courtship Begins

As soon as Mr. Tomcat hears the call, he'll prance on over and court the queen. They'll sniff each other and seem to play a game of hard to get. This can last for as long as several hours. Once your queen decides that this is an acceptable suitor, she'll assume the position and let him mount her. Because intercourse can be painful, the queen might let out a loud cry or hiss. She may even turn around and swat at her partner. Afterward, she'll roll around on her back and have a bath, while he'll most likely wander off to groom himself.

The End of the Season

Finally, the interestrus stage, or third stage of the queen's cycle begins. Even if a tomcat comes around during this time frame, she won't want anything to do with him. She might be a little aggressive and try to fight, if he attempts to mount her. She'll stay in this stage for seven to 14 days. If conception successfully occurred while she was in heat, you can expect kittens in approximately 63 days.