At a time when many of us are celebrating Father’s Day, curious cat lovers may be wondering about feline fathers. Do male cats make doting fathers or are they absent? Certainly it is not something you commonly hear about. This blog post aims to shed light on this little known topic.
|Photo by istock.com/virgonira|
One study in Southampton which looked at paternity in kittens discovered some interesting results. One of the households with a litter of kittens in the study had a male and female cat which were both unneutered. However, when the paternity test results came in, none of the kittens were fathered by the male cat living in the house. In fact, the kittens were all fathered by a feral tom cat from a farm a few miles away – and this feral cat had actually fathered many of the kittens in the study! Clearly this virulent male cat needed to be neutered in order to prevent the many unwanted litters. Kittens can get pregnant as young as four months of age, which is why Cats Protection recommends neutering at four months.
|Chaka and her kittens were in the care of our Bridgend Adoption Centre. Photo by Sue Dobbs|
Overall, cats are not known for their fatherly skills as male cats do not tend to be involved in raising offspring, especially in the wild. Anecdotally, there are rare cases reported where domestic male cats have shown paternal care towards the young. Generally, rearing the kittens is primarily carried out by the queen so we don’t expect many kittens to be giving gifts today!
To find out more about cats' needs and behaviour, go to: www.cats.org.uk/cat-care/cat-behaviour-hub