Mom loved her nickname, “Queen”. I came from a litter of 8, so maybe no surprise that my childhood impression of Labor Day had a loose association with new additions coming into the family. Long gone is that innocence, but I was on to something about Labor Day.
Heat cycles and pregnancy continue year-round for about half of Haywood County’s unspayed cats. The other half celebrates Labor Day as a kick-off of lower heat activity through January. Having a few months off from the demands of mating and another litter makes me purr.
So while half of us are resting, the remaining female cats or queens will secrete pheromone and hormones in her urine for a few days before Mating Week. The special musky purr-fume alerts potential mates from miles around:
“it’s ON –- follow this aroma-mail to mission control!”
The cat’s sensitive nose has 30 variants of the protein used to detect scents blowing in the wind (dogs have nine, humans only two). Cats can vocalize 100 sounds (dogs only 10), allowing a rich repertoire of endless “calling” to attract mates. It’s an aroma-radio broadcast like few others.
The 32 muscles in each cat ear (dogs only 15) allow them to swivel and rotate like a periscope to achieve a 15-20% sensitivity boost. Cats listen and sniff their way across roads and through private property to reach mission control. Queen vocals are painfully urgent and loud as she paces and calls in the troops. You’ll appreciate that cats hear five times better than humans and few calls are missed.
Heat behavior in unspayed queens cannot be overlooked. Even novel cat owners know something’s up and ask Alexa or Google what they’re seeing:
Q – do female cats spray?
A – yes, it’s a common heat behavior to attract males
Q – my cat tore through the screen last night. is she gone for good?
A – she’s likely to return when either pregnant or no longer in heat
As potential mates gather, the queen’s willingness to run the gauntlet signals an exciting week (3 to 16 days) of estrus frenzy, of sexual receptivity, wrestling, and marking. It can be brutal.
The “lordosis posture” describes its swayback silhouette: with her head down on bent forelegs, rear quarters raised and tail held to the side, rear legs rhythmically treading as if walking in place, uterus open to allow sperm to enter and fertilize the eggs released during coitus.
Cats are induced ovulators. Unlike humans, whose chance for conception is highest when Harry Meets Sally a few days before and on Ovulation Day, cats release her treasure only when chances are good to reproduce.
The way to stop female heats and unwanted litters is to spay the girls, neuter the boys, and eartip litters at four months to prevent first heat.
This Labor Day? Make it eartips on parade!