As cats age, they can no longer produce enough saliva to lubricate their mouths when eating. If you’ve ever seen an old cat eat some food that looks like red gel, that is actually blood!
As such, digestion becomes more difficult for older felines. When this happens, there are two potential problems.
Problems arise when stomach contents move up through the digestive tract too slowly. This can result in nutritional deficiencies, diarrhea or even vomiting if it gets worse.
Alternatively, intestinal obstruction can occur when gastric content moves too fast, which can lead to death if left untreated. Fortunately, information about internal fertilization (IF) in cats has improved diagnostic techniques.
This article will discuss what IF is, how it may be possible in your cat, and what to do if you find yourself faced with this situation.
History of internal fertilization
Over time, there have been many different ways to achieve internal fertilization in animals. Some strategies are more successful than others depending on the species!
There is no one right way to perform internal fertilization as it can vary slightly from individual to individual. What works for your animal doesn’t work for yours!
In some cases, males deposit enough semen that they don’t need to actively stimulate females to produce eggs. This is referred to as passive deposition or reflexive ejaculation.
For example, male cats often accumulate large amounts of sperm during the process called copulatory hyperstimulation. When a female cat comes into close proximity with him, he releases his load all at once.
This happens so quickly that very few of the sperm get actual exposure to other nutrients or fluids needed to survive. If a female cat eats immediately after being exposed to her mate’s semen, she may ingest some of their biological materials such as follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) or luteinizing hormone (LH).
These hormones help regulate reproduction in humans and other mammals. However, this isn’t typically an effective method of contraception because most infertility problems occur when ovaries fail to respond to LH and FSH.
Cat owners sometimes refer to this phenomenon as “boomerang sex.
Cat ovulation and fertilization
When it comes to cats, internal fertilization is much more common than external. This happens when male fluid or sperm are deposited in the female reproductive tract without being attached to an egg.
This can happen during mating season as well! Sometimes there’s no clue what kind of internal fertilization happened until signs and symptoms show up later. (For example, if you notice blood in the litter box or dry heaviness for several days after birth.)
Some experts believe that almost all cases of infertility in domestic cats are due to internal fertilizations. That’s why it’s so important to be aware cat reproduction and how to prevent pregnancy problems. Read on to learn about some things your might not know about internal fertilization in felines.
The female reproductive system
Like dogs, cats can be either spayed or neutered. This is usually done at about two years of age for females and three years for males to ensure they do not produce offspring.
In fact, most pure-bred cat owners never see their animals pregnant because almost all breed standards require this sterilization.
Procedures vary slightly depending on the size and weight of your pet, but in both cases, there’s no anesthesia used. Most veterinarians use a short pin that fits into the vagina as a tool to perform the procedure, which takes only a few seconds per animal.
Afterwards, the female will go through some changes. She may seem less active and playful, and she won’t try to mate with her own sex partners or other cats. When you play with her, she may lack any kind of interest in games like chasing toys or rubbing against objects.
However, she will still want food and water, so make sure those are readily available. Plus, she'll need somewhere to sleep now, too!
Male cats are incapable of internal fertilization themselves, so there's no need to worry about them keeping busy during these times. However, if he seems depressed or lethargic, you should talk to your vet.
He could have trouble getting enough testosterone, the hormone needed to stimulate mating behavior.
The male reproductive system
Males of many species have special structures they use to penetrate other animals for sex. These are called gonads, or organs that produce offspring.
In some species, males don’t need to physically insert their penis into another animal to fertilize its eggs. They can do it internally! This is internal fertilization (IF).
Not only does this save time, it also allows females to be more selective about who they mate with. Some female primates will not accept external fertilizers like dogs, so instead of mating with your dog, you could choose to be bred by a monkey!
Cat reproduction is one such example of IF. When a tom cat comes across an already pregnant queen cat, he will usually take over as the father of her kittens.
This process, however, isn’t always smooth sailing for all involved. Sometimes, the pussy gets in the way! Luckily, there are ways cats can manage to get the job done without too much trouble. Read on to learn how.
Hatching and birth
The next stage in cat reproduction is hatching, or as some call it, birthing. This happens when an egg gets fertilized and then absorbed by the body to create a newborn kitten or cuddle buddy!
Most cats will not actively seek out other felines to breed with. They’ll need to be stimulated to do so, usually through mounting or rubbing.
Some breeds of cat are known to be more likely to offspring than others, but even within those lines there can still be differences in individual kitties.
A few lucky owners have witnessed their cat drop a litter, but these events are very rare.
What you should know about internal fertilization
Many people are curious how this process works, what actually takes place during mating, and if they could possibly happen to them. Luckily, most veterinarians and board-certified animal specialists are aware of this fact!
Luckily for your loved ones, kittens that are born via internal fertilization don’t typically look any different from normal, non-intersexed babies.
They also don’t suffer health problems like growth issues or congenital defects. Because embryos only stick around for 9–12 days after conception, parents never get to hold their baby kangaroo style!
Some things may change slightly (like whisker length) but otherwise, adult intersiblings are always identical looking.
Care of kittens
Kittens are very playful animals that enjoy playing around and exploring new things. As they grow up, they need to be trained how to give good kisses! As you’ll notice, young cats will try to lick their own whiskers and nose several times a day. This is called self-licking or grooming.
This can sometimes get out of hand as they grow older if not done in the right way. When this happens, your cat may develop dry skin, ulcers or even internal parasites due to excessive licking.
It is important to take time to teach your kitten proper grooming habits.
Dry fur and rough skin can also cause pain and discomfort for your pet so it is best to learn at an early age.
Cat health issues
A lot of people worry about how to prevent cats from having intercourse, but what if we gave them permission? An internal fertilization process that occurs in female domestic housecats is actually a very healthy thing! This happens when uterine glands secrete estrogen so that sperm can implant into an egg.
This doesn’t usually occur unless a cat is either pregnant or has just ovulated (released an oocyte, also called an egg). When it does happen outside of pregnancy, most cats are able to control it.
It's important to note that only 1% of all housecat births were reported as being caused by this mechanism. For every 100 conceptions that go awry, only one results in birth defects.
Because this is such a rare occurrence, there isn’t much research done on the long-term effects of repeated exposure. However, some studies have looked at the short term effects and they seem to be safe for offspring.
Cat ages and reproductive health
As cats get older, they can stop producing enough of their own hormones to work as a catalyst for fertilization. This is called peri-menopausal or menopause-like syndrome.
When this happens, they may still be able to respond to external hormone stimuli such as those from other animals or humans, but they will not produce their own internal hormones needed to stimulate egg production.
This usually occurs around six years old for most females. However, some may never fully recover and be completely sterile!
Luckily, there are ways that you can help your cat achieve her goal of having offspring. You do not need to choose between being close to your beloved pet and knowing she has a chance at breeding, even if it’s only with herself!
Here are three easy strategies you can use to help her get back into fertility mode.