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Reproduction and Maturity of Kittens and Cats


For those of you who want a quick answer…..A short synopsis of having kittens:


The domestic cat usually reaches puberty at around nine or ten months of age. A sexually mature female cat goes into heat, or estrus, several times a year; during estrus, she is both receptive to, and attractive to, male cats. The gestation period of the cat is about 65 days; the average litter consists of 4 kittens. Kittens are born blind, deaf, and helpless. Their eyes open at 8 to 10 days of age, and they begin to be weaned about 6 weeks after birth.


Now for the longer version with definitions:

Baby Teeth - A cat's baby teeth grow to full size by about eight weeks, and at five to six months they are replaced by permanent ones.

Calling - You've probably heard the sound of a female feline in heat. It's a continuous yowling that she emits until a male cat gets her message.

Dam - a mother cat

Heat - The period in which a cat is capable of becoming pregnant. The number of daylight hours determines the cat's cycle. Most females begin to go into heat in February or March, and continue every two or three weeks until the days begin to get shorter in the fall. Approximately 14 hours of daylight are usually needed to trigger the cycle.

Kitten - A young cat up to 9 months of age.

Kitten Heap - The average kitten weighs 3.5 ounce and must be kept warm if it is to survive. Kittens sleep in a clump, which provides warmth and a sense of security. When the top kitten becomes too cool, it slides off and burrows underneath the others for warmth. This is repeated as each top kitten becomes chilled. The kitten heap prevents any one kitten from becoming too cold to survive.

Lactation - The production of milk by the mother cat.

Litter - The kittens born approximately nine weeks after mating. An average first litter is three to four kittens. Subsequent litters will contain four or more.

Mating - Cats are mature enough to mate by age one and can continue to reproduce for many years - until age 12 for females and 16 for males is considered normal.

Neuter - To castrate a male cat to prevent the breeding of unwanted kittens. Unneutered males are more antisocial and aggressive than neutered males, who have a longer life expectancy. The vet will do this surgery at about eight to ten months.

Queen - a breeding female cat.

Tom - a non-neutered male cat.

Tomcat - a male cat.

Sire - the male parent of a litter

Skin - The skin on a kitten is loose so that the mother can carry her offspring in her teeth. When a cat grows, the skin stays loose. This is an aid to the flexible skeleton and muscle combination. When grabbed by a predator, this loose skin enables the cat to escape and only lose some fur.

Spay - To surgically remove the ovaries and womb of a female cat to prevent breeding.

Now that the definitions are out of the way, here's a bit more information:


A queen is pregnant for 9 weeks, or from 57-70 days.

About two weeks before she is due to give birth, a pregnant queen begins to look for a good place for her nest. An outdoor cat will find a secluded place in a shed, hayloft, or under thick, sturdy brushes.


The entire birthing process may last several hours or longer depending on the number of kittens and how quickly each one is born. At birth, each domestic kitten is about 5 inches long and weighs between 2 and 4 ounces...

Right after the kittens are born, the mothers will clean them up and start to nurse them.

Kittens are born blind, deaf, and helpless. They must stay warm in order to survive.

Growing and Maturing:

Birth to 10 days: Kittens are virtually helpless. Primary focus is eating and staying warm.

Between 10 and 14 days: Eyes and ears open, allowing kittens to become more responsive to their world. Kittens can be exposed to gentle handling and new sounds. Kittens begin to stand and walk, and "baby teeth" appear.

Day 14 to Week 14: Referred to as the socialization phase, this is the most sensitive period for learning to form social relationships. Especially up to 7 weeks, kittens should have many positive experiences with humans, other cats and other species.

Week 3: Kittens are able to eliminate without aid of queen.

Between Weeks 3 and 4: Kittens eat first solid food. Weaning begins during this period and is usually complete by 7 weeks. Kittens progress from walking to running.

Week 4: Kittens begin to dig or rake in any loose, particulate matter they encounter, a behavior important to later litter box use. The first signs of predatory behavior appear.

Week 14: Running, jumping and climbing skills become more refined and efficient. Growth continues, but at a slower rate.

Between Months 6 and 12: Sexual maturity is reached. Secondary sex characteristics appear. Territorial behavior and behaviors associated with mating appear.

*Note ~ Kittens/Cats can mate before 1 year of age, but it is better not to. Owners of cats are warned to keep their adolescent kittens indoors and away from the opposite sex until 1 year of age.

Age: Here's a handy chart to understand cat's age's as compared to humans


If your cat is…..

Then in cat years s/he is……

1 month

5-6 months

2 months

9-10 months

3 months

2-3 years

4 months

5-6 years

5 months

8-9 years

6 months

14 years

7 months

15 years

8 months

16 years

1 year

18 years

2 years

25 years

3 years

30 years

4 years

35 years

5 years

38-40 years

6 years

42-44 years

7 years

45 years

8 years

48 years

9 years

55 years

10 years

60 years

11 years

62 years

12 years

65 years

13 years

68 years

14 years

72 years

15 years

74 years

16 years

76 years

17 years

78 years

18 years

80 years


For more information, you can try going to these two sites:

Orphan Kitten Care

Cat Fancy Feline Library


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