Though male cats are ready at any time, female cats mate only when in season. This usually occurs during the winter solstice, due to the increase in temperature and daylight. Cats give birth 60 to 65 days after copulation, as nature dictates that food is more plentiful during this time. Do not move your cat following mating, until she has groomed herself, the last part of the mating ritual of these animals.
During the proestrus (preheat) period, which lasts one to two days, the female, or queen, begins to rub her head and neck against assorted objects. She may eat more than usual, miaow and act restless. Though male cats, or toms, are attracted to her, she will refuse their advances, as queens prefer to be familiar with the toms that will become their mates. Other signs of this stage include urine marks around your home. This short period of behaviour may go unrecognized.
The heat stage, also called oestrus, is similar to the preheat stage, though actions are more intense. The queen will miaow loudly, often to attract a tom, and is likely to be more affectionate and rub against you more frequently, though she it is doubtful she will want to be picked up. She will crouch with her forequarters on the ground and her hindquarters raised and tail to the side for mating. Sometimes cat owners mistake this behaviour for pain.
When the queen is ready to mate she will get familiar with the tom, which includes licking one another, looking at genitals and sniffing each other's bodies. This behaviour arouses the queen, who will crouch with hindquarters raised for mating. If the queen is not ready for mating, she may try to bite and scratch the tom to keep him away. Queens are often selective of the toms they choose, and as such, may not want to mate with toms of their owners' choosing.
During this time the tom puts his front paws on either side of the queen and holds her neck with his teeth, while he moves his back paws up and down. The tom's penis then enters the queen until ejaculation, which takes from 5 to 15 seconds. The stimulation of the queen's vagina during this time causes her to ovulate. She will scream and then move away, possibly due to the rough edges of the tom's penis, which are necessary to start ovulation. Cats may mate more than once to ensure the queen's ovulation.