Everyone, well nearly everyone, loves babies, and few babies are more attractive than the cubs, or kittens, of cats, big or small. The successful breeding of, say, snow leopards or ocelots, is a notable and ever-welcome event – the more the merrier for such endangered species. With domestic cats however, the owner has a special responsibility. Pedigree kittens are usually in demand, and they sometimes sell for remarkably high prices; but crossbred animals are often regrettably a burden on the market.

Queens reproduce easily and fruitfully during most of their adult lives. With a relatively short gestation (pregnancy) period and an average litter size of almost four, cats can multiply almost as prodigiously as rabbits. It is gross irresponsibility to allow your cant, male or female, to produce unwanted kittens that end up being put down.

Unneutered toms run the risk of more fighting-wounds than their neutered colleagues, and for queens there are the stresses and strains, and possible complications, of repeated pregnancies. If you most definitely do not want your cat to have or to father a litter of kittens, or if you cannot be certain of finding good homes for any kittens born, make sure your queen is neutered (spayed) or your tom castrated (doctored), or talk to your vet about the Pill.

Reproduction in the cat follows the basic pattern of other mammals, but with certain interesting modifications, and owners of unneutered queens, pedigree or crossbred, should especially be acquainted with the basic biological facts of life, feline-style.

Sexual Behaviour
Queens reach sexual maturity between seven and twelve months of age. Do not breed a queen until she is at least one year old, at which age cats breed most easily. Toms mature sexually between ten and fourteen months of age (read more)

Choosing a stud
If you plan to breed from your pedigree queen, you will, unless you also have a similarly blue-blooded tom, have to find a reputable breeder. Make enquiries at a cat club, cat show or your veterinarian’s office (read more)

The length of pregnancy in the cat is between fifty-six and seventy-one days, but the average length is sixty-five days. The mean litter size of the domestic cat in the United States is 3.88 kittens (only statisticians have ever seen 0.88 of a kitten!). Larger cats tend to have more kittens in a litter (read more)

The Birth
Pregnancy ends when special hormones, sent out from the pituitary gland, set birth into motion (read more)

Maternal Behaviour
The newborn kitten is eleven to fifteen centimeters (four to six inches) long and weighs between seventy and one-hundred-and-thirty-five grams (two and five ounches). It is a fairly helpless creature at this stage, unable to see because of closed eyelids, unable to hear with ears that are folded back, and capable of wiggling and squirming but not walking (read more)

Kitten Development
The transformation of the kitten from its blind and helpless newborn state to full independence takes about six months. During that time physical and mental abilities mature steadily. The kitten’s instinctive, inbuilt knowledge is progressively enhanced by a process of learning by observation, imitation, and practice through play (read more)

Raising and Fostering
There are occasions, such as the death of a queen or where she simply cannot produce or where she simply cannot produce a sufficient supply of milk, when you may be faced with the problem of rearing kittens in some other way. (If you decide to “destroy” the kittens, do not even consider drowning the, Animal euthanasia must always be carried out by a vet or clinic) (read more)