Ritualized mating

Cat breeders have, over time, developed techniques for ensuring that the breeding of pedigreed cats is not left to chance. Typically the process goes like this: the queen (who is in heat, naturally) is delivered in a carrier to a special queen pen in the stud house. This separates her, via wire or bars, from the male, though they can sniff each other and the queen can size up her potential partner.

Usually the first nose-to-nose encounter involves a lot of hissing and growling on her part, and the wire that separates them is for the male’s protection. Eventually she shows she is ready for the male by ceasing the growling and by rolling on the floor and producing a more welcoming sound. At that point she is allowed into the stud’s area, but not before a coarse “mating rug” is laid down for the two.

The stud recognizes this as “his” rug, one on which he has mated before. It provides the female a warm surface to grip for stability during the brief mating procedure. When the deed is done, the queen is put back in her own pen—but the two are later allowed to repeat the process, on the assumption that pregnancy is more likely to occur with more than one mating session.
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