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What you can expect from your cat’s behaviour when they have a litter
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What you can expect from your cat’s behaviour when they have a litter

Cats
General

If you have made an informed decision to breed from your cat because you are confident that they are a good example of their breed and that you will be able to find appropriate homes for their litter, it is important to do plenty of research before you start planning to greet the eventual kittens!

As well as ascertaining that breeding is a responsible decision and that you will be able to care for your cat and their kittens until they can be sold, and knowing how to pick good future owners, you should also do plenty of research on what is involved in mating, gestation and raising the kittens, and ensure that you are prepared for it!

Breeding from your cat can and usually will bring about some short-term personality changes in her, from the point of mating onwards until after the kittens have been weaned and rehomed, until everything settles down again! It is important to find out what you can expect from your cat’s behaviour, personality and temperament during this time, in order to care for her appropriately and gain a basic understanding of what is happening.

In this article, we will look at what you can expect from your cat’s behaviour from mating to rehoming the eventual kittens.

Coming into heat

When your cat comes into heat, they will be both physically able to breed, and receptive to mating. When your cat does come into heat, their behaviour will generally alter during this time, and they are apt to become more clingy and affectionate, possibly rather more feisty, and often, a lot more vocal as they set about seeking a mate.

Mating

When you have found an appropriate male stud cat for your female, the mating process itself is likely to be rather noisy, and appear to be quite aggressive and, to the uninitiated, rather an eye-opener to observe!

The mating process will generally involve a lot of yowling, noise and general activity, and may also include a level of fighting and dominance too.

Gestation

Once your queen has conceived, they will quite possibly go through a range of different behavioural stages and changes in the run-up to delivery. Female cats remain pregnant for between 60-67 says as the norm, and as the time for delivery gets closer, your cat will need to eat more, and will begin to become possibly territorial or reclusive as they prepare for the birth.

It is important to keep things in your home calm and quiet at this time, and make sure that you provide plenty of bedding and snuggly spots for your cat to use to make their nest. You can pick where you would like this to be, but it is entirely possible that your cat will pick her own favourite spot, and you will need to tailor that area to suit them accordingly!

Many pregnant cats will be very clingy and affectionate during this time too, and she will naturally become quieter and less active as time goes on. During the period of gestation, take your cues from your cat when it comes to allowing them to find what works for them, and enable this as much as possible.

Delivery

Nesting behaviour is a good indication that the time for delivery is approaching, and most cats will prefer to prepare for the birth somewhere quiet and secluded, often delivering overnight when there is no one around! However, some cats may decide that they would rather have their litter in the presence of their favourite person, which is a huge compliment, and a privilege to watch!

Try not to interfere with the process at all unless something goes wrong and you need to call the vet, and other than checking over the kittens after delivery, do not take them away from the queen or bring a procession of people in to see them soon after the birth.

Nursing

When your cat has had her kittens, all of her time and attention will be taken up with caring for them, and this can be very tiring for your cat! Most tame, friendly cats will be happy to allow the people that they love to see and handle their kittens, and may even take this opportunity to have a break and eat or sleep while you supervise the litter!

However, some cats will be very defensive about their litter during the early days, and may become distressed by the presence of people, so again, take your cues from your cat when it comes to your behaviour.

It is important to start getting the kittens used to being handled as soon as possible, but do not do this in such a way as will upset your cat, and always approach and talk to your cat first before you attempt to pick up her kittens.

Weaning

Between the ages of six to eight weeks old, your queen will begin to wean the kittens, and they will start eating solid food. They will become much more active and lively during this time, as they prepare for going off out into the world on their own.

However, your kittens should not be removed from their queen until they are twelve weeks old, when your queen will naturally begin to expect them to be around less and not in need of as much supervision. Waiting until twelve weeks old to remove the kittens is not only good for their development, but also, for the queen, as she will be less bothered by their leaving than she might be earlier on.

However, as each kitten leaves to go to its new home, your queen is likely to look for them for a while afterwards and potentially become a little distressed, but this should settle down within a couple of days.

Before your kittens leave for good, get your queen used to having them taken out of the room for progressively longer periods of time each time when they are old enough, and the searching behaviour that your queen does display when they leave should be minimal.

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