Cat reproduction - 7 facts you probably don't know
A blog by our companion animal welfare expert, Dr Samantha Gaines.
Today marks International Cat Day which aims to unite cat lovers from across the world in celebration of cats. As always, we're delighted to be part of this day and - like all the collaborators - we strongly believe that every cat should have the best life possible. Today and every day, we share the desire to make every cat a happy cat!
Providing happy, healthy lives for cats, like all animals, is only possible if we have a good understanding of their biology and behaviour. So, on International Cat Day, we're sharing some facts around cats, their mating behaviours, and newborn kittens.
You may be wondering why we have chosen to talk about this topic - but every year, between April and September, we (alongside other animal welfare organisations) see an influx of kittens go into care.
Caring for kittens can be a struggle for unsuspecting owners
Many of these litters have been unplanned and cause great heartache and headaches for owners. These unsuspecting owners often struggle - not only to find good homes for the kittens - but also to care for the mum and kittens in the early stages.
Being pregnant and caring for kittens can also be very stressful for the cat. Making sure that everyone stays happy and healthy requires a lot of time and knowledge, and can also be very costly.
Animal centres are expecting biggest ever kitten season
Awareness of cats and their litters is more important than ever this year. The coronavirus pandemic and lockdown rules have made it more difficult for cats to be neutered. Therefore we're expecting to see an increase in unwanted pregnancies and kittens coming into our care.
Knowing some key facts around the reproductive behaviour of cats can help you, your cat and us!
7 cat mating facts: Did you know?
- Cats can reach sexual maturity and get pregnant at just four months of age (kittens can have kittens!).
- Cats are seasonal breeders and only enter their reproductive cycle at a certain time of year. This generally begins in spring as daylight starts to lengthen, and stops in late Autumn when daylight is reduced. This explains why litters of kittens are typically seen between April and September.
- Female cats 'queens' will signal that they are ready to mate or 'in heat' by becoming more active and quite noisy! Usually, she'll do lots of rubbing, rolling and attention-seeking behaviours. You will probably see her arch her back downwards with her hindquarters raised, which is called 'lordosis'.
- Females can be mated by more than one male within a short period of time and this includes relatives, even her father and brother.
- Mating doesn't take long between cats, so it's easy to be caught out!
- Cats don't 'need' to have a litter of kittens; there are no proven health or welfare benefits.
- There are lots of health benefits to neutering, including a big reduction in the risk of getting FIV (the cat version of HIV/ AIDS).
Remember to get your kitten neutered at 4 months
The best way to avoid unwanted litters and to protect your cat is to get him or her neutered at four months of age. This procedure, often called spaying in females and the snip in males, requires an anaesthetic but is fairly simple and your cat can be brought home the same day!
Looking to adopt a cat or kitten?
If you can offer a cat a happy home, then please check out the lovely cats and kittens we have available for rehoming. We also have lots of advice and information on cat care as well as the signals cats use to show us when they're feeling happy!
There are also lots of fun and informative activities lined up on International Cat Day online to help us all to deepen our understanding of these amazing animals.
While you're here, why not find out more about neutering?