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Are Cats Monogamous? Mating Practices Explained

two persian cats lying
Image Credit: ANURAK PONGPATIMET, Shutterstock
Last Updated on November 16, 2023 by Grant Piper

It might be a sweet idea to get two cats that you’re sure are going to fall in love and live happily ever after together. Unfortunately, that type of love and relationship just is not in a cat’s DNA. Cats are not monogamous animals. Cats can live together on friendly terms in the same house, but they will never think of one another as a lifelong partner that they are solely devoted to. If given the chance, most cats would run off with the first cat to walk through the door. That is because cats are designed to breed in a specific way that increases their chance of having babies. Here is what you need to know about cat monogamy and their mating practices.

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Cats Are Not Monogamous

Cats are not monogamous. In fact, many people would consider cats to be the opposite of monogamous. Cats can be downright promiscuous. During the mating season, male cats in the wild can try to breed multiple females per day, every day, for weeks on end. Similarly, females can make themselves available for mating by multiple partners in the same week. For cats, the goal is to get pregnant. It usually takes an average of four mating attempts before a cat will get pregnant, so both males and females are trying to mate as much as possible in order to increase the chances of getting pregnant.

pregnant cat nipples
Image Credit: Bill Roque, Shutterstock

Cat Mating Practices

Cats are considered to be seasonally polyestrous, which means that they can go into heat multiple times during the mating season. Mating season for cats lasts from January all the way through October. Cats that live in warm climates or live indoors year-round (and are intact) can cycle throughout the year. When a female cat goes into heat, she will do her best to attract a suitable male for mating. The female will attract males from miles around if she is outside, and once she mates, she will start looking for a new partner until she gets pregnant or until the heat cycle ends.

Cats remain in heat for roughly 7 days, but some cats can remain in heat for up to 21 days. Pregnancy lasts 9 weeks in cats.

Tomcats, or male cats, spend their days doing three things. They mark and protect their territory, they hunt and find food, and they look for mates. A tomcat is always looking for a new mate and is always looking to claim the female cats in his territory. In an area crowded with stray or wild cats, tomcats can mate with numerous females in a short amount of time. They have no concept of monogamy.

This type of frisky behavior is fueled by the fact that cats are induced ovulators. Induced ovulators only release eggs during or directly after the act of mating, and they will not release on their own. That means that cats need to mate a lot in order to induce ovulation. That is different from spontaneous ovulators which drop eggs at periodic or scheduled times without any stimulation from another animal.


What Animals Are Monogamous?

If cats are not monogamous, which animals are? In nature, monogamy is rare. An estimated 3% to 6% of animal species remain monogamous during their lives. But there are still some animals out there that can inspire hope and romantic feelings.

Many birds are actually monogamous. Once they mate as young fledglings, they will usually stay together for the rest of their lives. That means the male and female birds will build nests together, live together and raise their chicks and hatchlings together. For example, Emperor Penguins are monogamous and will remain as a couple to safely shepherd their babies to adulthood in the harsh Antarctic climate.

Other monogamous animals include the red-backed salamander, most otters, the Eurasian beaver, and the prairie vole. Each one of these species will mate with one animal at the beginning of their life and attempt to stay with them for the duration of their lifespans. Humans have the ability to be monogamous as well, but not all humans are.

Cats Cudduling in a couch
Image Credit: Fuu J, Unsplash

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Cats are not monogamous. Cats are actually the opposite of monogamous. They are frisky and will seek mates consistently. They do not care about the number of partners they have as long as kittens are being produced and born. That might shatter your illusions about cats and romance, but these behaviors are seared into the feline DNA, and it has been very effective for them throughout the years.

Featured Image Credit: ANURAK PONGPATIMET, Shutterstock

About the Author

Grant Piper
Grant Piper
Grant is a freelance writer with years of experience writing about a diverse range of topics. He currently lives in his native Florida with his wife. His days are spent writing, raising a rambunctious son, and caring for eight animals (two horses, two donkeys, two goats, and two dogs). In his free time he enjoys slowly carving out a quaint hobby farm from the Southern scrub.

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