For those not planning to breed their felines, it’s recommended to spay your cat at an early age to prevent unintended pregnancies. Kittens can achieve sexual maturity as early as four months, and unlike humans, cats don’t go through menopause. This means they can continue to go into heat, conceive, and bear kittens throughout their lifespan.
So, how can you tell if a cat has mated?
There is no way to accurately confirm mating has occurred immediately after the act. However, you can look out for some common post-mating signs. Female cats often come out of the mating posture, become agitated and engage in a distinctive roll. You may also notice that her fur is wet at the neck region and unkempt. Tomcats might just roam more, seeking other females. Their barbed penis may be seen immediately after withdrawal.
Both the queen and male cats could show other signs like vocalization, grooming, and lethargy. However, only when the female cat becomes pregnant can you truly say that mating occurred if you didn’t witness it happening. As early as the 20th day of pregnancy, clinical diagnosis can confirm your cat’s pregnancy.
While there are several indicative signs and behaviors that a cat may exhibit post-mating, it is not always possible to say with 100% certainty that mating has occurred solely based on these signs.
Cats are innately discreet animals, especially when it comes to their reproductive behaviors. Certain indicators, such as post-mating vocalizations, rolling behavior, or even a temporary halt in estrus symptoms, can suggest that mating has taken place. Likewise, physical signs like bite marks from the male gripping the female’s neck might be visible. However, none of these signs alone or even in combination guarantee that mating has occurred.
Moreover, not all cats will display these signs prominently, and some might not exhibit them at all. For example, while one female cat might roll extensively after mating, another might not. Similarly, some cats might not show significant changes in behavior after mating, making it harder to discern.
The appearance of pregnancy symptoms is a more reliable way to confirm a cat mated. To rule out false pregnancy, a veterinarian visit is recommended. By the third to fourth-week post-mating, a vet can often detect pregnancy through an ultrasound or by palpating the cat’s abdomen. It’s always recommended to consult a veterinarian to both confirm pregnancy and get advice on prenatal care.
A female cat generally will not mate if she is not in heat. The heat cycle, or estrus, is the period when the female is fertile and receptive to mating. During this time, she exhibits various behavioral signs indicating her readiness to reproduce.
Outside of the heat cycle, a female cat is not only infertile but is also typically not receptive to a male’s advances. Mating is driven by hormonal changes that occur in a female cat’s body when she’s in estrus. These hormonal changes cause the behaviors associated with being in heat and make her receptive to mating.
If a male cat tries to approach or mate with a female cat, not in heat, she is very likely to resist, becoming aggressive or defensive. The absence of the hormonal surge means there’s no biological drive or inclination for her to mate.
1. Wet Hindquarters: After mating, it’s common for a male cat to have wet hindquarters. This can be due to the fluids exchanged during the act or because the male cat may have marked or sprayed before or after the mating process. Male cats that are not neutered tend to mark their territory, especially in the presence of a female.
2. Penile Barb Exposure: A distinctive feature of the feline penis is its penile spines or barbs. These are backward-facing spines that only become fully developed and visible once the cat reaches sexual maturity. After mating, these barbs may be more exposed or noticeable. They play a role in stimulating the female to ovulate.
3. Quick Departure: Mating in cats is a quick affair, often lasting just a few seconds to a couple of minutes. Immediately after, the male may make a swift exit to avoid any potential aggression from the female, who might respond with hostility post-coitus.
4. Vocalizations: Cats, both male, and female, are quite vocal during the mating process. You might hear a series of yowls, howls, or other distinct noises. These sounds can be a combination of pain, pleasure, and communication between the mating cats. If you hear these sounds and then notice other signs, it’s likely that mating has occurred.
5. Grooming: Post-mating, a male cat might spend extra time grooming, especially around his genital area. This could be to clean up after the act or to rid himself of the scent which might attract other potential competing males or alert predators.
6. Lethargy: After the physical exertion of mating and the potential chase or play before the act, a male cat might seem particularly tired or lazy. He could be less interested in play or activities and prefer to rest and recuperate.
7. Increased Aggression: Mating and the associated hormones can make male cats more territorial and aggressive. If your male cat has recently mated, he may become more protective of his territory, show increased signs of aggression towards other cats, or be more jumpy and alert.
8. Persistent Roaming: One of the primary reasons male cats roam is to find a mate. If your cat is not neutered and has recently mated, he may continue to roam, searching for other potential mates. This roaming can be dangerous, as it exposes the cat to potential threats like cars, predators, or hostile cats and humans.
1. Disheveled or Wet Fur, Especially At The Scruff: After mating, a female cat may appear a little unkempt. The male cat typically grasps or bites the female by the scruff of her neck during the act, which might leave her fur disheveled or even wet from his saliva.
2. Post-Mating Aggression: Directly after mating, female cats often display aggressive behavior, such as hissing or swatting. This is a natural reaction and can be attributed to the discomfort caused by the male cat’s barbed penis, which stimulates ovulation but can also cause some pain.
3. Rolling Behavior: After mating, it’s quite common for female cats to engage in a peculiar “rolling” behavior. She may roll back and forth on the ground, which is believed to be a reaction to the act of mating itself, possibly helping with sperm movement.
4. Calling Stops: If a female cat is in heat, she’ll often display particular behaviors like tail flagging, frequent urination marking, and vocalizations. Once she has mated, these behaviors might decrease significantly or stop altogether.
5. Desire to Rest or Sleep More: The act of mating can be physically taxing, and the hormonal changes that follow can make her more lethargic. Don’t be surprised if she seeks a quiet place to rest or sleeps more than usual.
6. Grooming: Similar to male cats, females will often groom themselves more thoroughly after mating, focusing especially on their genital areas. This is both a cleaning mechanism and a way to reduce the scent that might attract other males.
7. Show Increased Affection to Owners: Hormonal changes can make a female cat more affectionate towards her owners. She might seek out your company more often, purring, nuzzling, or wanting to be petted more than usual.
9. Loss of Appetite: Just as with humans, hormonal fluctuations can lead to changes in appetite. A mated female cat might eat less than usual in the days following the act.
10. Pregnancy Symptoms: If the mating leads to fertilization, symptoms of pregnancy will start to emerge in the following weeks. These can include enlarged nipples, a more rounded abdomen, increased appetite as the pregnancy progresses, and nesting behavior as she prepares for the birth.
Recognizing the signs of feline pregnancy is crucial for responsible pet ownership. Unplanned litter can be a significant responsibility. Here are some indications and steps to determine if your female cat might be pregnant:
Increased Affection: Pregnant cats often become more affectionate. She might purr more, seek out your attention, or want to be near you more frequently.
Nesting Behavior: As she gets closer to delivery, she might start looking for a quiet, safe place to give birth. You may also find her kneading or digging to achieve this purpose. This is all part of the cat’s maternal instincts.
Appetite Changes: Initially, during the early stages, she might experience a reduced appetite or even go through a brief period of morning sickness. Later on, as the kittens grow, their appetite will significantly increase. She’ll need more calories and nutrients to support the growing kittens.
Enlarged and Pinker Nipples: One of the first and most noticeable changes is the enlargement and reddening or pinkening of the nipples around one to two weeks after mating.
Weight Gain: Depending on the number of kittens she’s carrying, your cat will gradually gain weight. This will be especially noticeable from the fourth week onward.
Rounded Abdomen: Her abdomen will become visibly rounded as the kittens grow, especially in the latter half of the average 63-67 day gestation period.
Movement in the Abdomen: As the pregnancy progresses, you might even feel (or see!) the kittens moving in her abdomen.
Palpation: Around the third or fourth week of pregnancy, a veterinarian might be able to feel the developing kittens by gently palpating the cat’s abdomen. However, this requires expertise as it’s easy to mistake other conditions for kittens and there’s a risk of harming the embryos.
Ultrasound: From around the 15th day onward, a vet can use an ultrasound to detect a feline pregnancy. This method can also be used to find out how many kittens might be expected.
X-ray: In the later stages of pregnancy, after the skeletal systems of the kittens have developed, an X-ray can not only confirm pregnancy but also give a clearer count of the number of kittens.
Just before she’s due to give birth, your cat might show signs of restlessness, become vocal, refuse food, or even vomit. These signs indicate that labor is imminent, typically within 24 to 48 hours
A female cat, or queen, will display several behavioral and physical signs when she is in heat. Here are some of the most common signs that a female cat may be in heat
Vocalization: Queens in heat will often yowl loudly, especially during the night. This vocalization is different from the usual meowing and is often more prolonged and mournful. It’s their way of calling out to potential mates.
Restlessness: A cat in heat can become restless and may seem more agitated or anxious than usual. She may pace around the house and show a decreased interest in food.
Affectionate Behavior: Many cats in heat become excessively affectionate, rubbing against furniture, people, or other pets. She might also roll on the ground frequently.
Elevated Tail and “Treading” Behavior: When a female cat is in heat, she might raise her tail to the side and make a “treading” motion with her hind legs when you stroke her back, especially the base of her tail. This behavior simulates the position she’d take if she were mating.
Marking Behavior: To attract mates, a female cat in heat might start marking her territory more often. This can include spraying a fine mist of urine on vertical surfaces, which has a stronger odor than usual due to the additional hormones and pheromones.
Crouching Posture: Also known as the “mating position” or “lordosis”, a cat in heat may crouch down on her front legs and present her hindquarters, with the tail shifted to the side.
Increased Interest in the Outdoors: Even if your cat is typically an indoor-only cat when in heat, she might show a sudden interest in going outside, often sitting near doors or windows. This is driven by her instinct to find a mate.
Clear Discharge: The discharge seen during a cat’s heat cycle is typically clear and mucus-like. It can be stretchy and may be seen around her vulva or in places she sits. This clear discharge is believed to play a role in lubrication and might contain pheromones, which can attract male cats.
Female cats don’t exactly “cry” in the way humans do, but they often make loud yowling or shrieking sounds during or just after mating. This reaction can be attributed to a variety of factors. One primary reason is the structure of the male cat’s penis, which has backward-facing barbs. Upon withdrawal, these barbs can cause some discomfort or pain to the female, leading her to vocalize. The noise can be unsettling to those unfamiliar with this aspect of feline behavior, but it’s a natural part of the process.
Indeed, cats do penetrate during mating. The male cat mounts the female from behind. The act of mating in cats is typically very brief, often lasting just a few seconds.
It’s common for male cats to bite the back of the female’s neck during the mating process. This behavior serves multiple purposes. Firstly, it’s a way for the male to hold the female in place. Secondly, the bite can have a subduing effect on the female, ensuring that mating can occur with fewer interruptions. This is a natural behavior and is seen in many other animal species as well.
Cats are not monogamous, and once the act of mating is over, the male cat usually leaves. He doesn’t play a role in raising the offspring. After mating, the female cat will often clean herself and may roll around. This rolling behavior is believed to assist with the movement of sperm. It’s also worth noting that female cats can mate with multiple males in a short period, which can lead to a single litter of kittens having multiple fathers.
Recognizing the signs of a recently mated male cat not only aids in managing their well-being but also emphasizes the importance of responsible pet ownership.
If you are not intending for your cat to breed, neutering is a responsible choice. It can prevent unwanted litter, reduce certain problematic behaviors, and even contribute to a longer, healthier life for your cat. On the flip side, if breeding is your intent, knowing these signs ensures that the process is happening as nature intended.
Whichever path you choose, being well-informed about your pet’s behaviors and needs is crucial