All You Need to Know About Breeding Timing in Cats


Breeding timing in cats refers to a specific period wherein a female cat achieves maximum fertility. This is when the cat’s chances of achieving pregnancy are at their highest. Some of the signs of breeding time include constantly meowing at higher volume and yowling. The female cat might also roll on the ground, rub against its owner’s legs or other items, knead with her back feet, etc. These are basically indicators of the female’s readiness to mate. She uses these signs to communicate the fact to male suitors. In scientific terms, this “breeding time” is referred to as “Estrus” and, in common terms, as “heat”. Estrus first occurs in female cats older than 4 months. At this time, mating with a male cat will likely lead to a successful pregnancy. Many breeders and pet owners try to determine the breeding time in order to initiate a successful pregnancy.

How Is This Done?

The day of ovulation is first pinpointed to improve the chances of conception through the identification of breeding time. As we mentioned already, the female cat displays certain signs that make the job of determining the day of ovulation relatively easy. Another sign would be the presence of male cats that show interest. But timing isn’t the ultimate factor in successful breeding among cats. A lot depends on the luteinizing hormone, which is released through the stimulation of the female’s vagina and cervix. Progesterone testing is also done to determine the ovulation cycle, and it is considered to be the most effective method present today. Apart from encouraging reproduction, breeding timing is practiced to help overcome a history of failed conception.

Diagnosing Breeding Time

Veterinarians are trained to determine the breeding time in cats. This is usually done by conducting physical examinations, measuring body temperature, and observing the typical signs of Estrus. The veterinarian might also collect vaginal secretions for progesterone testing. Another method used is having an Ultrasound. Veterinarians will likely question you regarding the cat’s age, the onset of Estrus, and existing health issues to determine her viability for breeding. He/she will also look at the cat’s records to check for pre-existing conditions and vaccination history to make sure everything is fine. Even genetic testing might be carried out to rule out the possibility of defects in her offspring. However, this is done only for specific breeds of cats that have been known to possess congenital problems. For owners who prefer not to have their cat bred, the option of an ovariohysterectomy may be suggested. Ovariohysterectomy is the medical term for spaying. It’s a simple procedure done under general anesthesia that basically results in the removal of the female’s reproductive organs. On the whole, the procedure lasts no longer than 30 minutes, and recovery normally occurs within a week or two.

What You Need To Know About Mating In Cats

The cat mating process is similar to other mammals. Breeding happens in three stages: conception, gestation period, and the last is delivery. You must care for your cat if she is pregnant. The to-be mother cat needs adequate nutrition, and after birth, the kittens need it as well. As a cat owner, it is your responsibility to find a loving home for the kittens.

In heat

The heat cycle is the first step in the mating process. A cat in heat is ready to mate. It will allow a male cat to come closer. These cycles start when the cat reaches six months of age. The heat cycle gets repeated approximately every two weeks until mating. You will know your cat is ready to mate when she turns extremely affectionate. The cat in heat will make more sounds than usual. A female on heat generally raises her rump on patting or stroking her back. She will also twitch her tail after raising her rump. The female cat, through these actions, signals her readiness to begin the mating process. Once you are confirmed that your female cat is in heat, do find the right male cat for her. Check the male cat's health and if it is of the ideal age. You must make sure the female has reached her complete adult size before you permit her to mate. This is important as the cat must put all energy into not only feeding her kittens but nursing them as well. Ensure your cat is at least two years old at the time of mating. If your cat is male, he must be minimum 18 months old. Check your cat for genetic conditions like hip dysplasia and polycystic kidney disease. The prevalence of heart disease signs must also be checked. Personality tests could be done to estimate the personality of future puppies. A grumpy cat father may result in grumpy children, and happy cats usually give birth to playful kittens.


For cats, pheromones are vital. Felines have a superb sense of smell, and the pheromones act as a road map. It plays a much more important role than attracting the male species of the cat to the female one. The female cat's body sends out certain chemicals when it is in heat. The male cats get the signal that she is available for mating. If the female cat gets pregnant, she stops sending out signals. It means a spayed cat will never send out signals.

Pheromones can compel male cats to do serious prowling for a female cat. It should be mentioned that pheromones are connected to not only sexual arousal but also behaviors like territorial respect and alarm. It also cements the bond which exists between a baby and its mother. No wonder many science journals describe pheromone as a chemical produced by one animal to change the behavior of another animal belonging to the same species.

The pheromones of male and female cats are different. It is possible to know a cat's gender and also location by the pheromones that can be scented in that area. Male cats routinely spray to tell other male cats who is the boss in that location. This is why one male cat will choose almost all females while other males look on helplessly.

Pheromones play a significant role in mother-baby bonding. The chemical present in the milk of the mother cat does not calm the kittens, but it also gives a nice map of where to find their mother if they get separated. Synthetic pheromones are available in the market to calm down frightened kitties. It is clear that pheromones are vital to any cat's life-especially those who live outdoors.

Heat and spaying

Female cats reach maturity at around six months, and the estrus or "heat" cycle begins at this stage. During every breeding season, a female cat may go into her estrus cycle multiple times. The heat period lasts from a minimum of a day to about seven days. In case the mating does not happen, the process will halt for one to two weeks, and the cycle restarts again. Only during this time many male cats will appear at your house trying to mate with your female cat. When it comes to distance traveled, it is observed that male cats can recognize a female cat is in heat from as much as two miles distant. If you do not want to see male cats sitting around expectantly in front of your house, spay your cat. If you do not spay your cat, be prepared to search for homes for the kittens!

Gestation and labor

After mating, the probability of whether conception has happened or not can be understood after a period of four weeks. The gestation period approximates 65 days. Your female cat could turn shy and prefers not to be touched. It is perfectly fine for the cat to be a little weird at this time. You can help her by building a safe spot in the secluded corner of your home. Ensure she gets enough nutrition and adequate quantities of water. The cat will give birth around the 60th day of gestation. Delivery before or after 10 days within this period is normal. Labor may last from a minimum of 20 minutes to several hours. Do keep the vet's number on speed dial. You may have to rush your cat to the clinic if such a need arise. You can feed her between contractions. Note down the sex, color, and weight of the kittens as they pop out. Your cat will lick her kittens clean after she gives birth. Assist her by cleaning the birthplace thoroughly. Be aware of the placentas. Your cat may gobble them up as they are nutritious. Do not panic if you see your cat eating them. Your cat will prefer to rest a few days after giving birth. Allow her to rest until she recovers enough to resume her old, playful self. Once you see her playing with her babies, that will be the time you should search for a new home for the kittens. If you prefer to keep them, you will have a dirty home full of love.

Cats in Heat - How This Phase Plays a Role in Cat Mating 

The heat cycle- the feline estrus or female reproductive cycle- is a period of hormonal fluctuations in a female cat’s fertility and sexual behavior. Throughout the feline breeding season, female cats go back and forth between being in heat (fertile/ready for mating) and not in heat (unlikely to get pregnant/not ready for mating). As a cat owner, it is important to recognize the signs and symptoms of cats in heat in order to avoid unwanted pregnancies or, in the case of breeders, to plan for a new litter of kittens.

When Do Cats Go Into Heat?

Female cats can go into heat as early as five months or as late as 18 months. The age at which your cat first goes into heat can depend on the breed. For example, Siamese cats go into heat earlier than longhaired breeds such as Persians.

Your cat’s breeding season will depend on a number of factors, including daylight hours, environmental conditions, and the presence of other cats. A female cat’s hormonal system is activated when there are 12 hours of daylight or more, so in the northern hemisphere, the breeding season is from Spring to Fall, while in the southern hemisphere, the breeding season is from Fall to Spring. During the breeding season, a cat will continue to cycle between in heat and not in heat unless she mates.

Symptoms of Heat

Cats in heat exhibit a number of distinct symptoms. These symptoms are present to alert male cats that the cat is ready for mating.

  • Meowing or crying. The vocalization of a cat in heat is unique -- the cat often sounds to be moaning or in pain.
  • Frequent urination and/or marking.
  • Assuming a crouched, receptive posture (known as standing estrous).
  • Treading with the back legs (this appears as “walking in place”).
  • Moving the tail to one side to expose the genitalia.
  • Clear vulval discharge.
  • Restlessness/pacing around the house or yard.
  • Interest in leaving the house/attempts to leave the house in an effort to get outside and find male cats.
  • Head and face rubbing on objects or people.
  • Rolling or writhing on the belly or back.
  • Excessive affection and physical contact with the owner and/or other pets.
  • Unusual aggression toward the owner.

How to Avoid Heat Cycles

The heat cycle is a normal part of every female cat’s life and cannot be avoided without medical intervention. Spaying your cat is the most widespread practice for stopping a cat from having heat cycles, as no ovaries mean no fertility. A cat’s heat cycle can also be stopped with certain forms of birth control, such as hormone injections from your veterinarian. This option is common among owners of pedigreed cats or those who want to temporarily stop the heat cycle.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long is a cat in heat?

The length of a cat's heat cycle can vary from cat to cat, and the duration of the estrus period (when the cat is receptive to mating) can range from a few days up to three weeks. Typically, the estrus period lasts for around 4 to 7 days, with an average of 7 days, but it can indeed range from 1 to 21 days. After the estrus period, if the cat has not mated, there is a period of about 1 to 2 weeks where she will be out of heat before the next cycle begins. This period is called the anestrus period. During this time, the cat's body prepares for the next heat cycle. The length of the anestrus period can vary from 2 to 19 days, with an average of around 7 days.

Do female cats enjoy mating?

Female cats, like many other animals, have an instinctual drive to mate during their heat cycle. While it's difficult to say whether they enjoy the act of mating, female cats do experience physiological changes during this time that can make them more receptive to the male cat's advances.

How long is a cat pregnant?

The gestation period (pregnancy) of a cat is approximately 63 to 65 days, although it can vary by a few days. During this time, the pregnant cat will show physical and behavioral changes as her body prepares to give birth. If you suspect that your cat may be pregnant, have her examined by a veterinarian to ensure that she receives appropriate care and nutrition during this time.

How to know a cat is pregnant?

There are several signs that can indicate that a cat is pregnant. Pregnant cats may experience a decreased or increased appetite, depending on the stage of pregnancy. Pregnant cats may become more affectionate or may seek out solitude. They may also become more vocal or restless. As the pregnancy progresses, the cat's abdomen will become noticeably larger. The cat's nipples may become more prominent and pinker in color as the pregnancy progresses. As the due date approaches, the cat may begin to seek out a quiet, safe place to give birth and may exhibit nesting behavior.

How do I know my cat is in heat?

A cat in heat may become more vocal and meow more frequently or loudly. It may become more affectionate than usual and seek more attention from its owners. The cat may also roll on the floor or rub against objects more frequently than usual. A cat in heat may hold its tail up and to the side to display their genital area. It may become more active than usual, pacing or acting restless. It may also urinate more frequently than usual and may even urinate outside of the litter box to attract a mate.

More on Female Cats and Cat Care

What to Feed a Female Cat
Why Cats Meow
Finding the Right Cat Breed for You

This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.

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