Cats are the most successful predators on this planet. As such, nature has genetically engineered them to take every advantage of their environment. Because they are attuned to their environment, spring kittens are the bloom of the cat world.
Cats generally will breed and produce as many kittens as they can in their lifetime but spring kittens are the real prize in survival. Although we all think of our cats and kittens as domestic animals, which we as humans have manipulated to fit our world, for cats that could not be further from the truth. Our “Domestic” cats evolved to take every advantage of their world and the situation they are born into.
Like all predators, spring is when the young are intended to arrive. The abundance of prey for mom and kittens is built into their genes. The fact that they live in a world full of humans is secondary to their nature. While they have come to use us to supplement their food and for housing, when push come to shove, they will continue to reproduce without the support of humans.
You most likely have seen the chart at the Vets office that shows how many young and potential generations of offsprings an unspayed cat can create. The reality is that cats are very insync with their environment which leads to big spring litters.
The reproductive cycle of a female cat is as follows. Once they reach sexual maturity, for queens (girl cats) at about 6 to 9 months depending on time of year, they will cycle into heat about every 3 to 4 weeks. Once bred, the gestation takes roughly 63 days.
After the kittens are born, mom will nurse her kittens for 7 to 12 weeks but will return into heat (estrus) about 6 to 8 weeks after the birth of kittens. If the queen loses her kittens either at birth or anytime thereafter she will cycle back into heat in about 10 days. She will re-breed at the first opportunity. This cycle continues year round in tropical climates and can also be true for house pets. However, in most of the US, the queen house cat will slow or stop cycling completely in September to October.
The cat cycle is in tune with nature and as the days shorten their cycle are reduced so as not to become pregnant and need to feed kittens in the dead of winter (December thru the first of February). This is because nature has designed them to save their energy and devote their reproductive energy to early spring litters that have a great chance of survival in the wild.
As responsabile breeders, we seek to produce the healthiest kittens possible so spring litters is the true beginning of our year. Here at Belle Hollow we strive to produce just 2 litters per year from each queen. One in spring and the other in summer or fall time frame. That may seem like a lot to a lay person but because cat physiology requires unspayed queens to reproduce to stay reproductively healthy we walk a fine line. The queens will keep cycling into heat and if not bred with some frequency they will develop life threatening uterine infections. If bred to often they lose condition and have smaller and unhealthy kittens. Cats are not unlike the rodents they prey on in the wild. They are designed to reproduce as many offspring as fast as they can so they leave as many of their genetic thumbprints on future generations. We as breeders strive for the best cats to influence future generations while allowing the queens to have happy, healthy and fulfilling breeding careers.
Because the biggest litters arrive in the spring there are more kittens to choose from for your future new family members. Most are ready to go home during late spring and early summer when the weather is warm and their human families with children can better enjoy them.
If you are looking for a new family member look at spring litters first, like those we have available now. If this timing is not right for you, responsible breeders will have a second flush of kittens in the late summer and fall after the queens have had time to rest.