Breeding Cats and Raising Kittens
If you’re wondering how many kittens a cat can have in a litter, the answer is: as few as one or as many as 10+. But on average, litter size is 3-6 kittens. In general, first-time moms will have fewer kittens than older, more experienced queens (fun fact: female cats of breeding age are often referred to as “queens”).
Feline breeding your cat
part i: breeding, pregnancy, and delivery
whether you are breeding cats commercially or simply because you want a litter of kittens from your favourite cat, you’ll find that breeding cats can be a fun and rewarding experience. It can also be one of frustration and disappointment. There are many things that you can do to increase your chances of success. Part I of this two-part series discusses breeding, pregnancy, and delivery. Part ii discusses raising kittens.
Good breeders take responsibility for their kittens not just until they find a new home, but for a lifetime. Reputable breeders:
mate purebred cats only to improve the breed. They follow breeding standards and belong to breed organizations. They make sure that both the mother and the father cats are screened for genetic defects, and have the papers to prove their health and backgrounds.
How often does a female cat come into heat?
The Egyptian goddess of fertility is a cat for good reason. Cats are one of the most efficient reproducers. As “opportunistic ovulators” female cats can come into heat any time an appealing tomcat appears. Toms are ready for action 24/7. The natural routine is for females to respond to longer daylight starting in January. Every two weeks from January through September, a fertile cat will automatically come into heat. The fertility cycle usually starts at five months of age, although it is possible for female cats to go into heat and become pregnant at four months.
Female cats (or queens) come into heat many times during the year. This part of the reproductive cycle is called estrus. It is the time when the female is sexually receptive to the male. The heat period usually lasts 3 to 16 days with the average being 7 days. If the queen is not bred, she will come back into heat in 1 or 2 weeks. The cycle continues for several heat cycles, or until the queen is bred. Depending on the geographic location, most queens stop cycling and are sexually inactive for about 3 months in the fall and winter.
As part of the battle against pet overpopulation, it used to be common practice to spay and neuter young pets as soon as it was safe to do so, and sterilization still is routinely performed on shelter puppies and kittens. When it comes to privately-owned pets in secure homes, here are aaha’s most recent recommendations. Cats: female kittens can enter their first heat cycle as young as four months, but usually not until they are five or six months old. Aaha has endorsed the “ fix felines by five ” initiative, which recommends sterilization of cats by five months of age.
Cats: female kittens can enter their first heat cycle as young as four months, but usually not until they are five or six months old. Aaha has endorsed the “ fix felines by five ” initiative, which recommends sterilization of cats by five months of age. This recommendation prevents unwanted litters and greatly decreases mammary cancer risks in female cats as well as spraying/marking in male cats, but still allows kittens time to grow. Kittens sterilized at this age quickly bounce back from surgery.
Is it likely that one or more kittens will be stillborn?
It is not uncommon for one or two kittens in a litter to be stillborn. Sometimes, s stillborn kitten will disrupt labour, resulting in dystocia. At other times the dead kitten will be born normally. Although there is always a cause for this occurrence, it is often not easily determined without an autopsy that includes cultures and the submission of tissues to a pathologist. This is only recommended in special circumstances.
This study was based on a convenience-sampling questionnaire study of pedigree cat breeding in the UK. Data were collated for the births of 1,056 litters from 14 different pedigree breeds and 942 different households. Significant relationships between various outcomes and relevant predictors were assessed by multiple linear regression or logistic regression as appropriate. The overall mean gestation length of 65. 1 day varied significantly between the breeds (p<0. 0001), and larger litter sizes were associated with shorter gestation lengths (p=0. 04). The mean litter size of 4. 6 kittens also varied significantly according to breed.
What do I do to care for the newborn kittens?
Generally, a mother will do a great job raising her kittens by herself, however, things go wrong. She may die in labour or reject her kittens. If this is the case, do you know how to hand-raise kittens? are you prepared to feed them around the clock for several weeks until they are old enough to wean? will you take time off to care for newborn kittens should the mother not be able to care for them?.
What are the signs that the kittens are not doing well and what do I do?
Your cat has been straining for an hour and no kitten has emerged. A kitten becomes stuck and won’t easily slide out with your help. Excessive bloody or green discharge. The first kitten has appeared but no further kittens have appeared after an hour. The first stage has lasted longer than 24 hours without any signs of straining. If you observe any of the above you should contact your vet immediately for advice.
Signs of excessive inbreeding include regular small litter sizes (one or two kittens), crooked noses, misaligned jaws, abnormal eye set and asymmetry. Male and females may experience low fertility and cancer are more common in younger cats. Immune system deficiencies are clear if half a litter or a group of adults die from a simple infection.
If you do not have your cat spayed, she will come into season at approximately 6 months of age. Breeding seasons are usually between March and June and late July to early September, when the weather is fine. A queen is in season, or on heat, for 3-5 days and will then have a resting period lasting approximately one week before the signs of heat return. While on heat, she will accept the male. As cats are induced ovulators, the stimulation of mating causes the release of eggs from the ovaries.
You should leave your cat to clean up and feed her kittens. It shouldn’t be necessary to handle the kittens at this point, so mother and kittens should be left to rest. Keep an eye on them for any signs that something is wrong such as your cat ignoring her kittens. If this is the case you should contact your vet immediately.
What should I expect during the kittens’ first few weeks of life?
Firstly, you must ensure your girl is on the active register. Cats are registered on the non-active register when their breeder does not wish them to be used for breeding; this will have been the decision of her breeder so you should be honest about your intentions to breed at the time of purchase. Make plans well in advance of when you want her to be mated. She will kitten nine weeks after mating and there will be three months in which the kittens need to be reared and cared for – this makes a minimum of five months in all and could be a longer period if your queen does not come into season when expected, or if you have problems with the litter and they are not ready to leave you at three months.
On 1st October 2018, prior to lucy’s law, the law surrounding licensed breeders, pet dealers and pet shops was updated to prevent them from selling puppies under the age of 8 weeks old. They are also required to state their licence number and the local authority from which they received it when advertising. When selling a litter of puppies, the mother must also be shown alongside the puppies, and sales must take place where the dogs are kept. This is to try to prevent animals from being separated from their mothers prematurely before they’ve been socialised.
The female encourages the kittens to suck and keeps them warm by lying on her side and encircling them. The kittens are guided by scent and warmth to her nipples where they find colostrum, the first type of milk to be produced which is rich in antibodies to help protect the kittens from the disease in their early weeks of life.
When selling a litter of puppies, the mother must also be shown alongside the puppies, and sales must take place where the dogs are kept. This is to try to prevent animals from being separated from their mothers prematurely before they’ve been socialised. Without proper socialisation in the first 8-10 weeks, puppies and kittens can miss out on experiences that help with their learning and development. This can cause them to have behavioural issues in their adult life.
Do kittens need a special diet?
Diet is extremely important for a growing kitten. There are many commercial foods specially formulated for kittens. These foods meet their unique nutritional requirements and should be fed until 12 months of age. Kitten foods are available in dry and canned formulations. Dry foods are less expensive and can be left in the bowl for the kitten to eat at will. Kittens will eat small amounts as often as 12 times during the day. Canned foods offer a change and are just as nutritious.
Renal failure refers to the inability of the kidneys to properly perform their functions of cleansing waste from the blood and regulating hydration. Kidney disease is extremely common in older cats but is usually due to exposure to toxins or genetic causes in young cats. Even very young kittens can have renal failure if they have inherited kidney defects, so we recommend screening for kidney problems early, before any anaesthesia or surgery, and then regularly throughout life. Severe renal failure is a progressive, fatal disease, but special diets and medications can help cats with kidney disease live longer fuller lives.
Do all kittens have worms?
Intestinal parasites (“worms”) are common in kittens. Symptoms include a generally poor condition, chronic soft or bloody stools, loss of appetite, a pot-bellied appearance, loss of lustre of the haircoat, and weight loss. Some parasites are transmitted from the mother to her offspring and others are carried by fleas. Some are transmitted through the stool of an infected cat. Very few of these parasites are visible in the stool, so their eggs must be detected by the veterinarian with a microscope.
Ancylostoma hookworms are parasites that can invade, inhabit, and live in the small intestines of animals. The specific hookworms that infect cats are the ancylostoma ceylanicum, and the ancylostoma tubaeforme worms. In their fourth-stage larvae, these blood-sucking parasites can cause anaemia and inflammation of the small intestine. Active worms will leave bite sites, and those sites may continue to seep blood at the site of the lesion. Internal infestation can also result in intestinal blood loss. Hookworm infestation can be fatal, especially in kittens. As such, owners need to be vigilant for signs of hookworms in their cats.
Hookworms cannot be seen with the naked eye. Your veterinarian will need to conduct a microscopic examination of a stool specimen; the presence of eggs will confirm the diagnosis. This examination will also help your veterinarian to determine which course of treatment to prescribe, which can depend heavily on the age, weight, and condition of your cat. If some of the kittens in a litter have died, hookworms should be suspected.
Guide to Cat Mating and Reproduction
The key to a healthy cat reproduction process is not all that different from what would be done for a pregnant woman: access to good medical care. The first veterinary exam for the breeding cat should occur within two to three weeks of mating to check on her overall health and provide the best plan for her pregnancy to ensure her health and the health of her kittens. There are certain medications that are approved for use during the cat reproduction cycle or during pregnancy, but there are many that are not.
Before you mate your cats, it is worth knowing about the process and what you can do to ensure everything goes smoothly. It is always going to be worth consulting with your vet for more information on the cat mating and reproduction process.
You may have a young female cat whose playful nature and slender body spell kittenhood, so of course you can’t imagine she’s old enough to be part of the mating game. But puberty in cats can arrive surprisingly early. Siamese cats can reach puberty by the time they are 4 months old. For a feral kitten or one that spends most of her time outdoors, the presence of intact male cats may bring on sexual maturity as early as 4 months. In general, a female cat can reach the age of reproduction by the time she is 5 to 6 months old.
Mating and Conception in Cats
Like dogs, cats also have an oestrous, or heat, cycle. However, female cats, which are called queens, are induced ovulators. This means that they do not ovulate (pass an egg) unless they are bred. This greatly increases the chances of conception when bred, which is why stray queens often have many kittens per year. The queen can enter her first heat as young as 4 months of age, and she generally has 2 or 3 heat cycles during the breeding season (typically February to October in the northern hemisphere).
Mating does not always result in conception. However, there is a high probability of conception in cats as their ovulation is induced. Therefore, ovulation will immediately follow after successful mating. The ovulation usually occurs 20 to 50 hours after successful mating. As for the eggs, they have the capability to be fertilized for just approximately one day. Once fertilized in the oviduct, they will go to the uterus where it will be implanted in the lining of the uterus from 10 to 12 days.
Although cats are induced ovulators, the relationship between the day of the breeding, the number of matings and the likelihood of ovulation and conception have not been extensively investigated. In this experiment, cats were mated either once or three times on day 1 or day 5 of oestrus to study the incidence of the LH surge, ovulation and conception rates. The percentage ovulating and the conception rates after a single mating on day 1 of oestrus were 60% (6/10) and 33. 3% (2/6), respectively, and for cats mated once on day 5 of oestrus were 83.
Is Your Cat in Heat?
How can I tell when my cat is in the heat?
you’ll usually have no trouble knowing when your cat is in heat. She’ll become very affectionate, rubbing on you and the furniture, rolling on the floor, and constantly wanting attention. When you stroke along her back, she’ll raise her hindquarters and tread with her back legs. Another obvious sign of heat in cats is that they become very vocal. The yowling sounds they make can even lead a new owner to think the cat might be in pain. Another undesirable thing is that cats in heat attract tomcats (unneutered males).
Cat mating season is generally from March to September in the northern hemisphere and October to march in the southern hemisphere, however, it can be all year round. A female can be in heat for 1-2 weeks and the heat cycle can repeat every 2-3 weeks. A female cat in heat (also known as a queen) will be very vocal, maybe more affectionate, will roam to find a mate, or rub up against furniture, other cats, and humans. If you are wanting to breed from your pedigree cat it is very important you keep her inside when she is in heat to prevent her mating with stray tomcats.
If you haven’t had your cat neutered it is fairly likely she will become pregnant at some point unless you keep her inside constantly. There are some cat pregnancy signs you can look out for to tell if she might be pregnant. Your cat will not show signs of heat when you would usually expect her to, although this may not always be the case. If your cat has been in heat and has been outside, pregnancy could be very likely. At 15-18 days into her pregnancy your cat’s nipples will become enlarged, and red.
Your cat will not show signs of heat when you would usually expect her to, although this may not always be the case. If your cat has been in heat and has been outside, pregnancy could be very likely. At 15-18 days into her pregnancy your cat’s nipples will become enlarged, and red. You will notice her swollen abdomen. She may have more of an appetite, and you may notice nesting behaviour. She will find a quiet place, usually a cupboard or under a bed, and make a nest.
Signs Your Cat Is Pregnant
Cats in heat will go to any length to find male cats to mate with, and male cats have sometimes been known to tear down screens to get to a female in heat. If your cat was in heat and had access to a tom (un-neutered male) cat, the likelihood that she is pregnant is very strong. A pregnant queen will show both physical and personality changes which will first become more evident around three weeks after mating. Learn to recognize the signs your cat may be pregnant.
If your kitty’s pregnancy took you by surprise, don’t worry—you certainly wouldn’t be the first pet parent that’s happened to!
the best things you can do now are to confirm the pregnancy and talk to your vet about your kitty’s care. Signs your cat might be pregnant, include:
enlarged mammary glands or nipples. Weight gain and a larger belly. Mild vomiting, loss of appetite, or lethargy.
At the end of the gestation period, it will be time for your cat to give birth. There are a few signs that tell you that this is about to happen. First, you may notice them seeking out quiet places where they can give birth. This tends to happen anywhere between a couple of days and a few hours before labour takes place. You may start to see your pregnant cat behaving in an anxious or restless way in the 48 hours before birth. Other signs include your cat vocalizing more than usual and a sudden loss of appetite.
The pregnancy in cats usually lasts for 64 to 71 days, with an average of nine weeks, but it is difficult to know precisely how long cats are pregnant. The cat usually does not show any physical signs of pregnancy until a few weeks into her term.
So Your Cat Is Pregnant
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cats mating may seem simple to the casual observer: they mate loudly, frequently, and indiscriminately; the female cat becomes pregnant, then gives birth to a bunch of kittens. The truth is not quite as clear-cut as that, however. For instance, did you know that cats do not ovulate until they mate? or that a female cat may give birth to five kittens, each from a different father? that whole male cats have barbed penises to stimulate the female cat to ovulate?.
If you suspect your cat could be pregnant you should take her to the vets. The vet can determine if she is pregnant by an ultrasound scan or more commonly abdominal palpation or hormone tests. During pregnancy, your cat’s appetite will increase by 50% so you will need to provide more food for her. This increase in appetite usually occurs in her third trimester (42 days). This is also when you visibly notice she is pregnant. It is at this time you will need to change her food. Pregnant cats will need more protein in their diet so it is advised you feed her food with a higher protein content such as kitten food.
So you were a little slow in having her spayed and your cat turned up pregnant, or perhaps a pregnant stray adopted you. Maybe you are working with a rescue group and this is your first fostering experience with a pregnant cat. Where do you go from here? your first major decision is whether or not to allow the condition to continue.
It is important to make sure your cat doesn’t pass on worms to her kittens via her milk. If she has been wormed recently then she will probably still be protected. But if she hasn’t been wormed recently you may want to worm her. You will need to obtain worming treatment from the vet as some treatment may not be suitable for a pregnant cat. You shouldn’t administer anything to your cat without seeking your vet’s advice, as it may harm her kittens.
From the time of breeding, many cats show behavioural changes. Most develop an unusually sweet and loving disposition and demand more affection and attention. However, some may become uncharacteristically irritable. Some experience a few days of vomition (“morning sickness”) followed by the development of a ravenous appetite which persists throughout the pregnancy. During the latter stages of pregnancy, the expectant mother begins to look for a secure place for delivery. Many become uncomfortable being alone and will cling closely to their owner. At the onset of labour, many nervously seek a place to make the “nest” or birthing place.
There are five stages of pregnancy that should be on your radar! catster outlined these for cat owners. Fertilization: cats are sexually mature as early as 6 months. How many male cats has this cat been around?
early-stage: they may vomit just like humans. They also may eat less. Middle-stage: your cat is gaining weight and those kittens are getting bigger! cute! the vet may do an x-ray.
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