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Will Littermates ... Mate?

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Kim's Kittens by Zemlinki! on Flickr

Kim's Kittens

by Zemlinki! on Flickr
Question: Will Littermates ... Mate?
This question has come up for both dogs and cats. Viewers want to know if once littermates reach puberty, will they ... mate? Or will they "know" they are brother and sister and refrain?
Answer: The short answer is no, they won't know or care that they are littermates, and will breed once they reach puberty and the female is in heat (also known as estrus).

Pregnancy is a common result for in both dogs and cats.

Dealing with puberty and sexual maturity is a common situation for people who adopt brother/sister littermates or who have a litter of puppies or kittens in the home.

The age of puberty varies -- it can sneak up on you, resulting in pregnancy and more puppies or kittens. Generally speaking, dogs and cats enter puberty around six months of age, but it may be as young as four months of age.

The age of onset for the first heat cycle, when a female may become pregnant, follows that time frame (4-6 months) for cats and small dogs, it may be delayed up to 18-24 months in giant breed dogs.

The best prevention for unplanned pet pregnancyis to spay and neuter. Animals become very creative when a female is in estrus. Keeping them separate, as pets living in the same household, may prove difficult to impossible.

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