Animal Info Cats Family Life

Abut the sexual reproduction cycle and family behavior of cats.

CATS

FAMILY LIFE

The average female cat matures at 6 or 7 months, the male between 10 and 11. The female is strongly sexual and can come into heat five or more times a year. The male is sexually active all the time.

During her heat period, which lasts for around five days, the female twists convulsively and "calls" persistently. When neighboring toms respond, the aptly named result is caterwauling. Mating usually takes place in secret but never in silence. A tom may pursue a female for days, but once she decides to submit, it is a short, savage courtship. The male grabs the female by the scruff of her neck with his teeth, and she howls during the brief--some vets say painful--copulation.

If the male doesn't make a fast getaway after copulation, the female frequently claws him. Paradoxically, some females will mate continually until the exhausted male finally spurns their advances.

The gestation period is about 63 days, and the average litter numbers four. Birthing is easy for most cats. The mother bites open each kitten's membranous sac and nips off the umbilical cord. With rare exceptions, the female is tender and maternal. However, most toms are rolling stones.

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