Cat Mating Behavior

"Cat mating behavior starts with a female flirting with male cats (called toms). She will attract toms by vocalizing more (meowing) and flirting with body movements. When ready she will assume a mounting position allowing the tom to enter her. Queens or females can be selective regarding who they want to mate with or when they want to mate. Cats can be aggressive with each other and humans during this ritual."

Female cats or queens go through four hormonal cycles (male cats are called toms) which dictate cat mating behavior. The entire estrous or head cycle lasts 10 to 14 days. When your queen is ready to mate she will go through a series of flirting behaviors designed to attract a male in the way she acts and sounds.

Stage 1 - Proestrus (1 to 2 days)
During this stage the queen begins to continuously rub its head and neck against any object. Your queen may or may not meow, appears restless and eats more than usual. She will attract toms, but refuses their advances, preferring a period of increased familiarity. Other characteristics include urine marking in the house. Your queen will go to great lengths to attract male attention. This stage is short and you may not even know it is happening.

To prevent pregnancy consider spaying your cat or keep your cat indoors away from Toms.

Stage 2 - Estrus (4 to 6 days)
This stage is called "heat" where you will find cat heat behavior. Signs are similar to the poestrus stage, but more intense. Your queen will meow loudly and frequently in an attempt to attract a tom. She will be more affectionate, rub against you more. Your cat probably will not want to be picked up. You will observe the queen crouching with the forequarters pressed to the ground and hyper extension of theback which exposes the hindquarters or vulva for mating.

Some owners mistake their cat as being in pain, particularly if this is the first cat heat behavior that they have witnessed. To see if your queen is in heat stroke your cat to the tail. If she raises her behind with the tail off to the side then she is probably in heat.

Stage 3 - Interestrus (7 to 14 days)
If your queen did not engage in any sexual activity with a tom then the cycle will start all over after this phase. Your queen will not want to mate with a tom during this period as well.

Stage 4 - Anestrus (90 days)
This stage lasts from November through January. It is thought to be induced by the shorter periods of light.

Cat Mating Behavior

If your queen is ready for mating she will get familiar with the male tom. The two cats will explore each others bodies including the face, licking each other and looking at the genitals. This is how the queen starts to become aroused.

After arousal the queen will assume a mating crouched position with the hindquarters raised in the air and the tail to the side. The mating process can become violent between the two cats if the queen is not ready to be mounted. This happens when the queen is in the first stage of the "heat" cycle and not willing to receive a willing tom. The queen may try and bite the tom to keep him away.

A queen may be somewhat selective in terms of what tom she would like to mate with. It is possible that she prefers a different tom to the one you might of introduced her to.

Cat Mounting Behavior

The tom will put his front paws on each side of the female. The tom will hold on to the females neck with his teeth as he moves up and down with the back feet. The male penis enters at this time until the tom ejaculates (5 to 15 seconds). When the penis stimulates the vagina causing the queen to ovulate.

The female will then lets out a scream and quickly moves away. The male penis may cause pain due to sharp edges which are there to stimulate the queen.

Mating cats may copulate more than one time in a session to ensure that ovulation in the queen has been stimulated.

If the queen becomes pregnant kittens are born approximately 63 days later.

A queen that has just copulated should not be moved until she has gone through the last phase of cat mating behavior which is a self grooming process that occurs right after being mounted.

Cat False Pregnancy (Psuedocyesis) Behavior

Approximately 30 to 35% of queens will ovulate without any direct contact with a tom. When eggs are released, but not fertilized it is called psuedocyesis or false pregnancy). You might notice some changes in your queen such as increased appetite. This period lasts for 30 to 35 days.

Sources for Cat Mating Behavior

Cat Owner's Veterinary Handbook

Recent Advances in Feline Reproduction
Prof. Stefano Romagnoli,DVM, MS, PhD
Diplomate European College of Animal Reproduction
Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences
University of Padova Agripolis


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