Cats have a practically year-round breeding season. Once a male cat attains sexual maturity, it will always be ready to mate. Female cats would go through periodic heat cycles but as these animals are polyestrus, they would appear as if they are almost always in heat. Female cats in heat would be receptive to the attention of any male cat. In a multi-cat household where the cats are not allowed t go out, the cats would look no further for a potential sexual mate. The cats would mate with the other pet cats. Does this mean that cats coming from the same litter would mate? Yes, in any man made environment, closely related cats – brother and sister or parent and offspring would mate. Unlike humans, cats are not restricted by taboos about incest.
Cats make wonderful pets. To a cat lover, one pet would not be enough. As what commonly happens, a pet parent would get two cats from the same litter – a male and a female cat. The pets would grow…become sexually mature. When the time to mate comes, these two pets would not look elsewhere for a sexual partner especially if they are indoor pets. The brother and sister cats would be drawn together by the urge to mate. Although the breeding is unplanned, owners that have the capability to care for the litter would eagerly await for the kittens’ delivery date. The mating between brother and sister or between genetically related parents is called inbreeding. Inbreeding is commonly practiced by pedigree breeders for the purpose of enhancing the physical capabilities of the breed. In cats, breeders would generally practice inbreeding to enhance the aesthetic traits of the breed unlike in dogs where the ideal behavior and the physical abilities of the dog are enhanced. This is done by concentrating positive genes. However, inbreeding can concentrate negative genes as well. Mating between brother and sister cats would double up the good genes but the genetic defects the sibling have will be doubled up as well. If the siblings only have negative genes, genetic defect would occur in the litter as no good genes would recompense for the negative genes.
Mating between brother and sister can result to improved physical traits. But there would always be a possibility that the inbreeding can result to physical deformities as in the case of Persian cats that were purposely bred to have flat faces. The desired appearance was achieved but the negative effects are weeping eyes and breathing problems. Other cats that have resulted from the mating of siblings suffer from joint problems and other physical deformities. Mating between closely related cats would pass ideal physical traits to the offspring but it would also result to genetically inherited health concerns as the gene pool would be more limited. As both parents would have the recessive genes it is highly probable for the litter to have genetic defects such as physical deformities and health concerns that would result to shorter life span of the kittens. Mating between closely related parents commonly result to smaller litter. Another negative effect of inbreeding is weaker immune system of the litter. The cat would have shorter life span as they would easily succumb to common feline diseases.
Breeders would intentionally practice inbreeding. Cat owners aware of the risk of inbreeding should make sure that the brother and sister pets are prevented from reproducing. Preventing the closely confined cats from mating would be next to impossible. If there are no breeding plans, it would be a wise idea to have the pets neutered.