A short discussion
on Heat Cycles &
Pregnancy in Cats
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Understanding feline Heat Periods & PregnancyCats sometimes play with their menu
The female cat or Queen, unless she has been spayed, has
what is referred to as a heat cycle, that is her estrus
cycle or estrus. The length of time that a female cat is in
estrus is dependent upon many things: There are
environmental factors like temperature, daylight and other
intact cats being in proximity to the female cat, and
biological factors like whether she is healthy and how old
When the female cat does go into estrus she will usually be
in estrus for from several days to two to three weeks. In
some cases an adult female cat that goes into heat will not
come out of heat until she mates or is spayed. Most queens
will cycle in and out of estrus during the peak breeding
season from December to August. During this period they will
go into heat every other week.
Signs a Cat may be in Heat
Every female cat is different when it comes to showing signs
of being in estrus. Unlike female dogs, cats usually do not
bleed during estrus. Their behavior does change. Usually a
female cat that is in estrus will start loudly vocalizing
and will act more affectionate. She may roll around on the
floor or furniture or lay down right at your feet when you
are walking. She will want to be with you and to be stroked
and petted more than usual. When you stroke down her back
she may raise up her rear and knead with her front paws.
When to Breed Cats
Knowing when to breed your female cat isn't as easy to
determine and there are a lot of differing opinions on the
subject. It is preferred that the female cat be mature
emotionally and physically, that is why it is recommended
that you not breed your female cat until she is at least one
year old and has gone through two estrus cycles.
You may choose to breed your cat before then due to her
breed and the intensity of the heat cycles. Professional
breeders of pedigree cats usually have trouble deciding when
to breed their female cat because of the inherent problems
with interfering with the natural breeding process. There is
a huge difference between doing what is best for your cat
and trying to breed the cat for profit.
In some cases the female cat's estrus cycle is so intense
that it makes the susceptible to ovarian cysts. When these
develop the female cat will usually become sterile shortly
thereafter. In some cases veterinarians have been able to
break down the cysts and scar tissue to extend breeding
capability of a female cat but this has its own risks. It is
best to have your female cat spayed if she suffers from this
very painful condition.
To breed your cat you will probably want the stud or male
cat to live with your female for a period of time. Female
cats are unique in that they will release eggs when they are
mated three or four times to the male cat within a twenty-
four hour period. This makes conception more likely to
occur. There is no urgency to separate the cats if they get
along well after they have mated.
On average your pregnant female cat will go through a
gestation period lasting anywhere from sixty-four to sixty-
six days. A pregnant queen will start eating more and have
an increased interest in food. Her teats will swell and get
pinker. The veterinarian should be able to palpitate her
abdomen and so tell if there are any babies. There is
sometimes even some morning sickness associated with a
female cat's pregnancy.
Remember to feed your pregnant cat as much as she wants of
good healthy cat food. This feeding practice should go on
through after she has had the kittens and is nursing. It is
important to feed the queen food that is high in vitamins
and minerals. Those cat food brands usually tend to be more
expensive but they are the best for your cat during
When she gets closer to her due date she will start looking
for a den. This will usually be a small, dark, warm place.
When your cat settles on a place to have her kittens make
sure to put a box lined with old towels there for her to
kitten in. This way you will know where she is when she goes
to kitten and you don't have to search for her.
It is vitally important that you keep the area clean and
free of refuse and waste and keep the place warm. Many
kittens have died due to a stray cold draft. Be sure to have
what you need ready and have the veterinarian's number handy
should there be a problem. In some rare cases C-sections
must be performed to save the queen and kittens from death.
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