Domestic cats become sexually active when they are nearly 12-months-of-age. However, it varies. For males the youngest sexually mature age is, unusually, six months. Some are sexually mature at 8 months but typically it is between 11-12 months. It may be longer for stray cats at 15-18 months because they are given less chance in a more competitive environment to mate as older males win. For females the time to sexual maturity is shorter at 6-8 months normally but sometimes 3-5 months. The early start may be due to domestication as wild cats are sexually mature at about 10 months.
The breeding sequences of the domestic are less rigid than those of the wild cat such as the European wildcat. This is because the wild sequence is dictated by the seasons and prey availability whereas the domestic cat has food on tap and a perpetually pleasant home environment if they are in good homes.
The widcat’s season starts in March and the kittens appear in May after a 63-68 pregnancy. The unsterilised domestic cat may start in late January with a litter appearing in early April. After the kittens are weaned and homed she may start again producing a second litter by late summer.
Some additional information
A breeding female is called a queen. Before making the decision to breed a female, serious thought needs to be given to the effort and responsibilities involved and the ethics of it when there are millions of unwanted cats in the world including America. Genetic screening for any known health problems should be carried out before breeding. If your queen is not of the desired quality in terms of health and appearance (if she is a purebred) she should be spayed. Ideally, good quality home should be organised before breeding. Female cats do not need to have a litter to be fulfilled and in the right frame of mind as some people believe. Spaying her before her first heat reduces her chances of developing mammary and uterine cancers.
Sources: Myself, Cat Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook and Cat World.