Male cats do not go into heat. Male domestic cats reach sexual maturity and begin to produce sperm from 6 to 18 months of age with the average at about nine months. Two months later sperm is present in the collecting tubules at which point the male has reached sexual maturity and can now fertilise a queen i.e. a breeding female cat who has not been spayed.
Associated page: Is a male cat still fertile after neutering?
In the world of the cat fancy, the experts say that a tomcat (breeding male cat) “can be bred for three consecutive days or three times in one week”.
It is the females who go into heat. They usually have their first heat when they are at about 75 or 80% of their adult size which is usually when they weigh at least 5 pounds (2.25 kg). The age at which females first go into heat varies. My reference book1 tells me that Persians are not sexually mature until 10 months or older while some breeds such as the Siamese may have their first heat as early as five-months-of-age.
Cats are seasonally polyoestrous which means that they have repeated heat cycles over the year. These cycles are dictated to by factors such as the length of daylight, temperature and the presence of other cats. The hormonal system is activated when conditions are optimal and when there are 12 hours of daylight, at which time the queen begins the oestrus cycle. In the northern hemisphere the mating season of cats is from March to September. In the southern hemisphere it is from October to March.
During the breeding season queens go into and out of heat several times but they might not display oestrus behaviour at regular intervals. In early spring they might show continuous heat cycles. From the beginning of one cycle to the beginning of the next there may be 14 to 21 days. Late spring cycles are further apart.
1. My reference book for this page is: Cat Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook 3rd edition Sex and Reproduction. Many thanks. This is a great book and strongly recommended for any cat owner. A knowledge of cat health is always useful when used wisely.
SOME MORE ON CATS MATING: