Should I breed my cat?
Cat overpopulation is a huge issue around the world with literally millions of kittens euthanised due to there just not being enough homes. For this reason, it is not recommended that you breed your cat unless you are a registered cat breeder with registered cats.
Experience and knowledge are vital before you breed your cat. Most new cat breeders will find a mentor to help them establish a breeding programme.
If you are a registered breeder or have decided to breed your cat it is important to have her checked over by a veterinarian prior to mating. She should be a minimum of 12 months of age, be in excellent health and have all her vaccinations. A suitable stud should be found who is also in good health and up to date on his vaccinations. Both cats should be screened for the Feline Leukemia Virus and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus prior to mating.
Once a female cat reaches puberty, which can be as early as six months in some breeds such as the Siamese, she will begin to come onto heat. At this stage, she is fertile and will be receptive to mating. An entire female who is capable of sexually reproducing is known as a "queen" and an entire male who is capable of sexually reproducing is known as a "stud or tom". A cat is in heat for between 5 - 8 days and will be repeated every 2-3 weeks until she either becomes pregnant or is spayed.
The mating season in cats is activated by a number of factors including the number of daylight hours. In the northern hemisphere, it is generally between March and September, in the southern hemisphere, it is between September and March.
Cats do not discriminate and a female in heat will mate with any available male (or multiple males), this includes her father or siblings. When she comes into heat she will display particular behaviour such as increased vocalisation (known as calling) accompanied by treading and rolling. You may notice if you stroke her, especially along the back, she will put herself in the mating position, crouching down with her rump raised and her tail to the side. Loss of appetite is also common in the female in heat as she has more important things on her mind. At this point in time, she will literally do anything possible to escape and find that mate.
If a male is available, he will approach her from the rear and grasp the skin on her neck, he will clasp her sides with his front legs, he will tread with his back feet and insert his penis which is accompanied by a few deep thrusts. Ejaculation occurs within 15-30 seconds and is accompanied by a low growl from the stud and a piercing scream from the queen. It is believed that the barb-like projections on the penis cause pain to the queen, but this is necessary to stimulate ovulation. When the stud pulls away, the queen may lash out at him if he's not quick. Mating may be repeated several minutes to several hours later. A female can mate up to 30 times during her heat period.
Can a litter of kittens have different fathers?
Yes. A queen will mate with multiple toms if she is permitted and it is quite possible for a litter of kittens to have different fathers for this reason.
Cats are extremely fertile creatures and pregnancy almost always occurs if the queen is mated. The gestation period of a cat is between 63 - 54 days. Symptoms usually appear around the second week of pregnancy when her nipples pink up. By 3-4 weeks your veterinarian may be able to feel the kittens (you should not do this at home) by palpitating the abdomen.