Roblin Animal Hospital/ Red River Spay and Neuter Clinic:
Feline Mating Behaviour
Female cats, also known as Queens, must have vaginal stimulation to ovulate. This means they are induced ovulators. They can be inpregnated by more than one male if mating occurs within a short period of time. Since the queen does not always ovulate during every estrus cyle she has 3 different outcomes that may occur after her estrus cylce. She may ovulate and become pregnant, ovulate and not become pregnant or not ovulate at all. Depending on which occurs, changes the series of events and time before returning to estrus. Another factor is what season it is in the year as they are also seasonal breeders. Often most cats dont cyle often during the winter months from January to March.
Before going into estrus a female queen goes through a proestrus phase lasting about 1-3 days. There are usually no apparent sings to this phase. After proestrus they go into their estrus phase. This can last 8-10 days. During this phase the female is receptive to a male. This phase is often refered to as "in heat". They show signs of yowling, rolling, elevating their bum, acting restless, eating/sleeping less, flicking their tail, marking territory and wanting to find a male.
If the female is stimulated to ovulate and becomes pregnant they go through a pregnancy gestation of 63 to 66 days. After delivery they go through an anestrus period that can vary in length. It is a period where nothing is happing with the overies. It can last anywhere from 2-6 weeks. Depending on the season the female can then go back into proestrus or into a season anestrus. If the cat goes back into proestrous they can become pregnant again, even while still breast feeding their previous litter!
If the female is stimulated to ovulate but does not become pregnant they then go through a diestrus phase. It is similar to a false pregnancy. This can last for about 40 days following the estrus cycle. After diestrus they go through a 2 week anestrus phase. Depending on the season the female can go back into proestrus or into a seasonal anestrus.
If the female is not stimulated to ovulate the female may go into an anestrus phase. This phase can last anywhere from 3-14 days. Depending on the season the female can go back into proestrus or into a seasonal anestrus.
If you do the math this means that an unspayed female can go into "heat" as often as every 2 weeks! With each litter producing on average 5-6 kittens you can see how an unspayed female cat can can greatly aid to the over population of cats, leading to many of these kittens not finding homes!