Cats are very efficient at reproducing and are able to have several
litters a year with multiple kittens in each. Most cats go through
puberty at an early age somewhere between five and nine months. Females
be fertile for about seven years, while males may be able to reproduce
for 11 years or more. The large numbers of feral cats (cats who have
returned to a wild existence) demonstrate that in an uncontrolled
environment, cats will keep reproducing. Today’s methods of
sterilization are surgical and thus are not easily applied to the vast
numbers of feral cats. Researchers are working on new methods of feline
contraception, including oral medications and even vaccines. These
methods will help stop kitty overpopulation in the future.
The estrous cycle
Most females reach puberty around six months of age and
cycle every two weeks until they are bred or induced to ovulate. The
cycle begins with proestrus, which lasts one to three days. This is the
female cats start showing they are ready to mate, but they will not yet
allow males to mount them. Restlessness, increased vocalization, facial
rubbing and rolling are the not so subtle female signals.
Estrus is the period of sexual receptivity that follows. The behaviors
that began in proestrus become more apparent, plus the female will now
permit copulation. If there are no tomcats and therefore no mating,
estrus lasts about 10 to 14 days, then the cat gets a break for 2 to 3
weeks, then estrus returns. Repeated estrus can be annoying for owners,
because there is nothing that can be done to calm the cat’s behaviors.
It is also
stressful for the cat, who cannot control her urges to find a mate. Cats
have been known to lose their appetite and sleep poorly during estrus.
When a female cat is in estrus, she does not bleed like a dog; rather,
she has changes in behavior. The changes can include:
• Increased vocalization
• Rolling on the ground and crying
• Lying on her belly with her rear end pushed up in the air
• Acting more affectionate
• Attempting to escape the house and get outside
• Urinating outside the litter box, often on vertical surfaces
Metestrus occurs the day after estrus ends. During this
time females aggressively reject male approaches. Pregnancy follows if
fertilization occurred during mating. Anestrus is the quiet part of the
estrous cycle. It occurs between periods of estrus and during the late
fall, when the seasonally polyestrus
cat does not cycle.
If she’s in heat and given the opportunity to be
with an intact male, chances are a female cat will get pregnant. The
average cat’s gestation period is 63 to 65 days. There are many physical
changes a female cat will experience during a pregnancy. The tom takes
no role in raising his kittens, and some toms are even
aggressive toward kittens. On the other hand, a queen will be very
protective of her babies. A mother cat will
also protect her kittens from you. If you are caring for a feral queen,
be careful of how much you handle her kittens, because she may reject
them. She may also become aggressive with you if you try to handle them
in her presence.
Signs of Pregnancy
An inexperienced cat owner may be unaware of the signs
of heat. Some cats put on more of a show than others. If you have a cat
who has come in and out of heat and suddenly seems to stop cycling,
she’s probably pregnant. Cats do not need much special care to maintain
a pregnancy. They seem to do fine on their own. Other than allowing a
queen to eat what she wants and protecting her from illness and
parasites, you can leave the rest to her. Because cats are only pregnant
for about nine weeks, things happen
fairly quickly. The progression of signs is:
1. Increased appetite and weight gain
2. “Pinking up” of the nipples within two weeks of being bred
3. More rounded appearance of the abdomen
4. Engorgement of the mammary glands
A veterinarian can palpate a female cat’s abdomen and confirm
a pregnancy three to four weeks into gestation. The fetuses develop
bones at about 54 days, so an X ray at this time can tell how many
be born. An average litter contains three to five kittens, but in
reality, litter size can vary a lot. X rays do not damage the fetuses,
and they can be useful if you want to know what to expect. Ultrasound is
confirming pregnancy as early as two to three weeks, but it is not
reliable for determining the number of fetuses.
Kittens develop very
quickly and are grown-up cats before you know it. The maturation that
occurs during a kitten’s first six months of life correlates to the
first 15 years of a human’s life.......
Cats rely on their natural
instincts for hunting, self preservation and
elimination. Many of the behaviors cat owners deem undesirable are
simply manifestations of natural behaviors.........
Is my cat
cannot tell us how they feel, so it is important to have some
understanding of the signs that a cat is sick. Cats are generally
stoic animals, and often they do not let us know .........
There is no set schedule
for bathing a cat, and some cats may never need a bath. Factors to
consider when deciding about a bath are:.........
nutrition for your cat
Food has a high ranking on
a cat’s top 10 list. It ranks higher than affection from you, cravings
for catnip and clawing the furniture! Food is a treat some ...........
cats are said to have nine lives, they only have one, and you
can help that one along. In the wild cats do a good job of taking care
of themselves .................
As a cat
owner, it is useful to have some basic knowledge about the diseases you
protect your cat from with vaccines. You may be surprised to find out
that vaccines are not as .......
very efficient at reproducing and are able to have several litters a
year with multiple kittens in each. Most cats go through puberty at an
early age somewhere .......
Care for a
not live forever, although we’d like them to. When you have shared your
home with a cat for many years, he becomes an integral member of the
family, and you develop strong ........
is the largest organ of any animal’s body; it comprises 12 to 24 percent
of a cat’s body weight. It protects the cat and is responsible for much
of her external appearance ......
central nervous system is composed of the brain and spinal cord. The
brain is the computer that commands the other parts of the body.
Cerebral spinal fluid surrounds the brain ........
You Catch From Your Cat?
have successfully lived with cats for thousands of years. Overall, cats
are extremely safe pets to own, and they rarely transmit diseases to