Warmer weather coincides with female cats' heat cycles. When female cats go into heat, male cats come running from near and far. Cats' reproductive hormones are very powerful.
There is an over-abundance of unsterilized cats both owned and un-owned. A frenzy of mating takes place each year across the nation.
Unaltered cats are driven by hormones (and powerful hormones at that!) and tend to sneak outdoors primarily in search of a mate. Mating just once can start a domino effect that can result in dozens, even hundreds or thousands of unwanted animals.
These unwanted cats and kittens, when not left on the street to fend for themselves, often turn up in high volume at local animal shelters.
Whether they prowl by day or night, all cats are constantly prepared for an encounter with the opposite sex. For much of the time this will involve little more than long, whining conversations, occasionally exploding into a squawking, spitting, short-lived fight.
In season, however, conditions change. The female is swept by huge, imperative waves of sexual desire and goes seeking a torn to assuage her. This may happen a few times a year or many, depending on the cat. It is a seizure of emotion fierce, primitive and unembarrassed. The docile cat of the week before becomes restless and filled with anguished longing. She pads about, tense, nervous, tail switching. She rolls, writhes and undulates. She is yielding, receptive and female in every sense. Her voice changes. She cries, piercingly, demandingly and incessantly, for a torn to come and relieve her. And come he does. Yowling, potent and all male, he comes in great numbers and from miles around.
|Estrus is the period of receptivity to mating, and is linked with the production of estrodial, a type of estrogen produced by ovarian follicles. It is rare to see any signs of blood, although an occasional mucous discharge may be evident. Do not confuse this with menstruation in female humans. |
In female cats ovulation does not take place without mating or manual stimulation. If the cat does not mate during estrus, her hormonal levels will eventually drop, and the estrus cycle will cease, until it repeats itself again in another two to three weeks.
|The queen will adopt a unique posture (lordosis), thus indicating her willingness to mate: Head down, forelegs bent, rear quarters raised exposing the vulva, with the tail raised and held to the side of the body. Her rear legs will tread rhythmically, as if walking on the spot. The tom cat will mount the female from the rear, holding her on the back of the neck with his teeth. Male cats have barbed penises, which it is believed stimulate ovulation.|
What follows is so natural, unabashed and public that squeamish human beings may become quite distressed. The toms form a wide, interested ring around the female. Fights break out sporadically among the males - screaming, spluttering tangles that add mightly to the general tension of the affair. Before the session has ended one of the several who have mated with her is likely to have impregnated her.
His prime function accomplished, the male goes out of the female's life. And she, her passions cooled, becomes her old mannerly self again.
|Guarding Against Unwanted Pregnancies |
It is critical to keep the mother indoors and separate from any males in the house. Once she starts to wean the kittens, she should be spayed to prevent further litters. In addition, the kittens should be spayed/neutered, whether kept in the original home or placed for adoption.
Female cats generally mature sexually from five to twelve months, and it is possible for a cat to start the estrus cycle as early as four months. If a "kitten" is allowed to become pregnant at this age, the result will be dangerous to both the mother and her kittens. Early spay and neutering is being practiced more by many veterinarians to prevent these sort of tragedies happening.