You’ve probably heard the expression “it takes a man to change a light bulb.” What you may not know is that women are responsible for changing their own bodies through ovulation the process by which females decide whether or not they will bear offspring. Get pet toys at https://www.doggietoys.deals/
During this time, a female’s reproductive organs grow larger and estrogen levels increase dramatically. At around 14 days before her next menstrual cycle begins, the egg ripens within the ovaries. If it doesn’t find a male partner (or if he refuses), the egg will pass out of the vagina and into the uterus where it can be fertilized. Once pregnant, a female must carry the fetus until it gives birth.
Humans aren’t alone in undergoing these physical transformations. Many animals also go through similar processes. For example, birds’ eggs only develop after they’re laid. Female mammals like cows, sheep and goats become pregnant once a month.
And most fish spawn every year. However, while many species undergo gestation periods, no other animal on Earth does. Even certain types of bacteria are capable of reproduction. They do so by splitting themselves in two. In doing so, each cell grows into a new organism with its own genetic code.
While humans are the only primates who experience pregnancies, we still have plenty to learn about how our biology works. We don’t fully understand why humans need such long gestational periods, but studies indicate that shorter ones could possibly lead to higher survival rates among infants.
In addition to the physical changes that occur during pregnancy, the brain chemistry of mothers-to-be changes too. It becomes easier for them to recognize faces, remember names and empathize. This helps them bond with their newborns. When human parents see their newborns, oxytocin, a hormone released by the pituitary gland, floods the brain. Oxytocin improves bonding between parent and child. Studies show that cats produce this same chemical when they look at their kittens.
During pregnancy, a female’s skin thins and stretches. She gains weight because extra fat cells accumulate under the skin. Her breasts enlarge and her nipples harden. She produces high amounts of hormones including progesterone, cortisol, testosterone and estradiol. Progesterone causes uterine muscles to relax and dilates the cervix. Estradiol stimulates the lining of the uterus.
Together, these hormones help prepare the uterus for an embryo. The presence of these hormones makes the uterus receptive to sperm from any males who happen to cross paths with her.
Cats don’t actually get pregnant. Instead, they undergo parthenogenesis the process of developing embryos without a mate. Parthenogenesis occurs naturally in wild felines. Male lions, for instance, sometimes die shortly after mating.
Females, however, usually survive the ordeal. Scientists believe that the act of intercourse puts stress on the female’s immune system. Mating might make it harder for her to fight off infections. As a result, females who live in primate societies often avoid mating altogether.
Unlike humans, cats don’t have a specific point when they decide to reproduce. Some older cats will begin looking for mates as early as age four, but others won’t start trying until much later. Like humans, however, cats eventually reach an end point. An aging female may stop reproducing entirely. Or, if she continues to breed, she may have fewer litters over time. Most females, though, continue to procreate throughout their lives.
Although cats don’t have sex organs, they do experience several different forms of sexual activity. Males lick females’ genitals, place their tails between their legs and mount them. Afterward, the female will urinate on the male. Both parties receive pleasure from this interaction. While mounting another cat isn’t technically called copulation, it’s considered a form of sexual behavior.
When a cat enters heat, she begins producing large amounts of estrogen. Estrogen increases the size of the mammary glands and allows them to secrete milk. The amount of estrogen produced depends upon the age of the cat. Young females produce less estrogen than adult females. Older cats tend to have lower estrogen levels than younger ones.
High estrogen levels don’t guarantee successful lactation, however. Other factors besides hormonal fluctuations affect a cat’s ability to nurse successfully. These include the length of her teat and the consistency of her milk.
After mating, a female cat’s vulva swells and dark brown secretions appear around her nipples. Within three to five weeks, these turn bright pink and then white. Milk ducts develop underneath the skin. Eventually, the nipples move closer together. By six weeks, the nipples have hardened and grown into small teats.
About two months after conception, the first kitten begins eating solid food. Around this time, the mother begins nursing the kitten. Nursing enables the mother to provide warmth, nutrition and protection for her young.
A cat’s litter box contains her feces. Each day, she uses it to mark her territory. To eliminate odors, she covers the excrement with urine, which comes from both kidneys. While the mother sleeps, kittens remain close to their mother’s nipple area.
When she wakes up, the kitten latches onto her breast for nourishment. Lactose intolerance prevents kittens from drinking their mother’s milk directly. Instead, they suckle on her udder through a piece of cloth known as a natal bandage. Natal bands allow a mother to nurse her kittens while lying down.
For a few hours after birth, a cat remains attached to her litter box. Then, she crawls away from the smell of the box and climbs back toward her mother’s nipple. Kittens spend their first week sleeping a lot. Their eyes open slowly. Between 10 and 12 days after birth, the mother cleans her kittens using her tongue and teeth.
By day 15, the kittens are able to walk around the litter box. By 20 days, they use their mouths to clean themselves. Although they eat solid foods, kittens continue sucking on their mother’s nipples for several more weeks. Finally, around 8 weeks old, her kittens leave the nest to fend for themselves.
If you want to read more about the amazing world of animals, try visiting Discovery’s Animal Planet. You’ll discover everything there is to know about animals from a tiger’s stripes to a dog’s wagging tail.