What Is a Heat?
Having heat is an essential component of your cat’s estrus cycle or reproductive cycle. It is the time when your cat is most fertile and actively seeking a mate.
However, in cats, this does not necessarily imply the occurrence of ovulation. Unlike other animals, cats are induced ovulators, which means that ovulation occurs during the heat period only if the female cat has mated; the act of mating triggers the release of eggs.
Heat, Oestrus, Estrus
All of the terms listed above are true in describing female cats’ period of receptiveness to mating; however, “heat cycles” will be used to refer to these phases in this article.
Cats reproduce almost year-round, beginning as early as February and ending as late as December. Still, in the western hemisphere, the breeding season is commonly considered to be from March to September, depending on the region.
What’s the proper term?
Heat cycle or estrous cycle are the correct terms to use in the case of cat estrous cycle or heat.
Puberty, also known as sexual maturity, begins in cats at approximately six months of age on average, though this can vary significantly depending on the time of year.
During each cycle, there are various stages; the stage known as estrus refers to the period of time when the female is sexually receptive or in heat.
Cat Heat Cycle
All-female cats will go through the normal heat cycle unless they have been spayed or are pregnant. In certain circles, this is referred to as the estrus cycle, and it is at this time, a cat is capable of reproducing — that is, mating and producing kittens. The following stages of the cat’s heat cycle are detailed in greater detail:
During this stage, the female cat (sometimes known as the queen) may attract the attention of male cats (that are unneutered). She will not be ready for mating, though, until later in the season. This stage, which lasts 1-2 days, is characterized by the absence of any traditional indications of being in heat in cats.
Following that, the unspayed female cat enters the heat stage, also known as estrus, oestrus, or estrous. She will be receptive to mating and draw the attention of male cats for up to a week after that. This is also the time of year when she will begin to exhibit the indications of a female cat in heat. If the weather becomes hot and humid, hormone production will be boosted, resulting in the egg’s ovulation. Before becoming pregnant, cats may mate several times throughout this stage of their development. When a female cat becomes pregnant, the kittens she produces may have a variety of fathers.
Female cats in heat will be more open to mating during the estrus period, so be sure to follow our guidelines below to ensure that you handle your cat in the heat with care and caution when she is in heat.
How long do cats remain in heat?
The cat in the heat or estrus phase — the period during which the cat is actively seeking a potential mate – can last anywhere from one to seven days. If the cat does not mate during this period, she will most likely go into heat again a few weeks after that. Thus, the entire cycle takes approximately three weeks.
After estrus, if the cat has not mated or given birth during that period, she will enter the phase of interestrus, often known as the period between heats. When she is in heat, she will not show any apparent indicators of being in heat. The cat will go into heat again in a few days, or it could take up to three weeks. Throughout the mating season, the cycle of proestrus, estrus, and interests repeats itself several times.
The final stage is known as anestrus, and it is characterized by a time of dormancy for the cat’s reproductive system. Because the mating season is typically seasonal, she will not experience any signs of sexual activity. The heat cycle typically lasts from spring through fall, during which time the light of long days stimulates your cat’s hormone production. When the days are smaller in the late fall and winter, it is possible that your cat will not go into heat at all. On the other hand, artificial illumination may induce your cat to go into heat any time of year.
Veterinary assistance should be sought if you detect any unusual behavior in your cat and are unsure if she is in heat or not.
How often does a kitty (female cat) come into heat?
Cats will go into heat every 2 to 3 weeks throughout the warmer weather months as the number of daylight increases. A cat that has given birth may go into heat again within a week of the arrival of her kittens, but more often than not, her second heat will occur three to four weeks after the delivery of her kittens.
The length of the breeding season will vary depending on geographic and environmental factors such as temperature and the number of daylight hours available to the animals. For example, cats typically cycle from January through the end of the fall season in the Northern Hemisphere. Cats that live in more tropical climates or who spend most of their time indoors, on the other hand, may cycle all year.
The pineal gland in the cat’s brain secretes the hormone melatonin, which decreases as the number of daylight increases. A decrease in the cat’s ability to sleep causes reproductive hormones in the cat’s brain to travel from her pituitary gland to her ovaries, where they will remain until fertilization occurs. Because the changing seasons affect feline heat cycles, unspayed female cats experience a nearly constant fluctuation in hormonal activity throughout the year. As a result, cats may reproduce almost year-round, while the primary “kitten season” is from early spring to late autumn, a time that animal shelters dread because they are flooded with unwanted litters of kittens.
What Is the Best Way to Tell If My Cat Is In Heat?
In most cases, identifying a female cat in heat is not tricky — nor is it difficult to hear one! Consequently, by observing the signals listed above, you can determine whether or not your cat is in heat.
The following are examples of signs of estrus or heat in cats:
1) Affectionate Expression of Feeling
Your female cat may become exceptionally affectionate. If she feels like it, she may sit on furniture or rub her hindquarters on stuffed animals, other cats, or even you. It is possible to tell the difference between this behavior and sheer restlessness (a sign she may be in pain and need veterinary attention) by the way she elevates her tail or even enters the mating posture on occasion.
2) Excessive Grooming
Even if there is no blood visible, she may spend an unusual amount of time licking her genital area. The truth is that a cat in heat should not be bleeding, contrary to widespread assumption. In contrast to humans, Cats do not shed the lining of their uterus during their menstrual cycle. Genital licking, on the other hand, can be an indication of a urinary tract disorder, which can be life-threatening if not treated promptly. If your cat is exhibiting this behavior and not exhibiting any other signs of heat, a trip to the veterinarian is recommended.
3) Position and Call for Mating
Your queen will make a resounding declaration. This “calling” may last for several days if she does not find a partner. Then, when she is ready, she will enter the mating position, which is as follows: head down, forelegs bent, rear quarters elevated to reveal the perineum, tail raised and held to one side of the body. The term for this position is lordosis. Then her hind legs will tread rhythmically as if she were walking in place when she takes the position.
4) Start defining her territory
A cat in heat may spray urine on vertical surfaces like a male cat, such as walls and ceilings. Her actions will include backing up to the surface of choice, twitching her tail, and possibly even performing the repetitive treading outlined above to accomplish this. To the inexperienced eye, this appears to be an indication of impending danger. However, it is natural for a cat in heat to behave in this manner, so don’t be concerned (although a nuisance to you if you value your furniture).
5) Loss of Appetite
Your cat’s appetite may have decreased significantly. Quite frankly, she has other things on her mind. Her biological drive to reproduce takes precedence over her need to nourish herself due to pure instinct. However, keep an eye on her hunger because this behavior should not persist for more than two weeks. If she does not return to her regular eating habit after that period, something else may be wrong.
6) Need to escape
When your cat is in heat, instinct propels him to lunge towards the door as soon as it swings open. Outside, she finds herself surrounded by potential suitors, and her desire to attract and mate with them becomes evident. During this period, it is not uncommon for an indoor cat to disappear for more than a day and possibly for up to a week or longer in some cases. Make sure that all escape routes are closed off and that you keep a close eye on her. You may even want to engage in some light play with her in order to take her attention away from the task at hand.
Other signs and symptoms include:
- Urine spraying
- Attempting to attract others’ attention.
- Demanding or obnoxious behavior.
- Rolling around on the ground
- Extending the hind end into the air.
- When the rear spine is stroked, the hind end will wiggle.
- Beseeching to be allowed to go outside
- Scratching its chin against things
How long does the period of estrus last?
Each heat lasts several days on average, with the most prolonged heat lasting six days on average. A queen (a female cat that has not been spayed) will go into heat for a brief amount of time if she has not been mated during her estrus cycle. As a result, the length of a cat’s complete estrous cycle can range from one to six weeks, with the typical cycle length being approximately three weeks.
Do female cats go through periods/menstrual cycles?
Cats (female) do have a monthly cycle, but it is very different from the one experienced by female humans. For example, cats and other select mammals reabsorb the old uterine lining rather than bleeding it out, as do human women every 32 days or so, as opposed to human women who shed the uterine lining. This occurs during the estrus cycle, which is discussed more below.
A tiny quantity of blood may be shed during your cat’s heat cycle, but it is more typical for a female cat on her period to present the indications of a cat in heat as described above. If you see any abnormal bleeding in your female or male cat, you should consult your veterinarian.
How to keep a cat calm when it’s in heat?
You can don’t much for your cat when she is in heat, other than scheduling an appointment to have her spayed as soon as possible (though the vet or clinic would most likely want to wait until she is no longer in heat before performing the surgery).
Here are a few best tips for how you might assist distract her or make her more comfortable, as well as a crucial tip to save you from being the unintended parent of feline pregnancy.
- Isolation: Keep your cat away from other males at all times. If she happens to glimpse a guy (for example, through a window) or otherwise detects his presence, she will become even more excited than she already is. In addition, the likelihood that she will attempt to flee the house during this time period makes it critical to keep all doors and windows closed, pet flaps locked, and drawn curtains if required.
- Plenty of attention and physical touch: When your kitten or cat is in heat, make sure you give her plenty of attention and physical contact. This will aid in calming her down and alleviating some of her anxiety and restlessness, among other things. If she allows it, try touching, petting, snuggling, and brushing her hair.
- Playtime: The distraction and physical exertion provided by playfulness may be just what your kitty needs to keep herself calm and comfortable when she’s going through her heat. The distraction and physical work provided by playfulness may be just what your kitty needs to keep herself calm and relaxed when she’s going through her heat
- Warmth: The warmth of a warm, wet towel or washcloth or the sensation of sitting on a somewhat heated heat pack is appealing to some cats and kittens who are overheating. Take care not to let the temperature get too high, and never place a heated or plugged-in heating pad under your cat’s bed. It has the potential to warm up and cause burns gradually.
- Marking territory: When cats are in heat, they are more prone than other cats to mark their territory, so keep your litter box clean (this is one way they indicate their availability to males). It is more likely that she will mark the litter box rather than the rest of the home if you maintain it clean and odor-free. Keep in mind that ammonia-based cleaners should be avoided because they can cause increased spraying behavior.
- Music: Even though it may seem strange, some cats genuinely enjoy the sound of music. Experiment with classical or gentle jazz music to observe whether the melodies appear to have a relaxing impact on you.
- Catnip: When it comes to catnip, some cats respond favorably to it; however, some cats do not respond well to this herb at this time period. Therefore, it’s advisable to start with a modest amount and see whether it makes a difference.
- Natural medicines: Some herbal medicines claim to be able to soothe cats in heat. These include: Because their usefulness and safety have not always been proven, it is recommended that you contact your veterinarian before using this type of therapy on your cat.
- Anxiety: Cat anxiety-related problems like spraying, scratching, and aggression have been addressed using pheromone-based remedies since they were first marketed in the United States in 2001. It is unclear whether it is effective in treating cats who are in heat. For a medical opinion, consult with your veterinarian.
Exactly when does a kitten experience their first heat?
The majority of kittens attain sexual maturity and experience their first heat at roughly six months of age – however, some can be a bit later, and others can be as early as four months. Furthermore, cats can become pregnant and give birth to a litter of kittens as early as their first period of heat.
Is it possible for my cat to become pregnant if she is in heat?
Yes, if your cat mates while she is in heat, pregnancy is a possibility, even if it is their first heat together.
In order to avoid pregnancy, keep your female kitty separated from any male cats in the household (including blood relatives).
Also, make sure that all doors and windows are locked. Keeping your kitten indoors will prevent her from running away to hunt for another female, which will prevent her from being pregnant and the chances of becoming lost or hurt while outside.
What can you do to keep your cat from going into heat?
You may prevent your cat from going into heat by doing the following:
1) Surgical Spay
If you do not intend to breed your cat, spay or neuter her as soon as she reaches sexual maturity, which is usually between 8 weeks and six months old. In a single surgical treatment, the reproductive organs are removed, the heat cycle is permanently stopped, and the possibility of an undesired pregnancy is eliminated. Cats who have been spayed or neutered have several health benefits, mainly if the treatment is performed before reaching the age of sexual maturity. Unspayed cats are at increased risk for breast, uterine, and ovarian cancers, as well as the potentially fatal uterine infection pyometra, which can occur in unspayed cats.
2) Feline Contraceptives
Feline contraceptives, which do not require surgical intervention, can guard against recurrent heat cycles and conception. If you want to breed your cat on your schedule and don’t want to go through a permanent surgical sterilization procedure, you may want to consider this alternative. Several types of contraceptives are available for cats, including those marketed under GonaCon, Ovaban, Depo-Provera, Norplant, and Promote. Typically, medications act by preventing ovulation from occurring. Despite its effectiveness, not all are without adverse effects, including reproductive issues, weight gain, and a higher chance of developing type 2 diabetes. With your veterinarian, go over the advantages and disadvantages of various medicinal contraceptives.
3) Other Points to Consider
Every year, millions of unwanted cats are surrendered to shelters, euthanized, or abandoned to fend for their survival. For those who are not experienced and responsible cat breeders, the advantages of permanent sterilization for your cats should be considered. Contact your local humane society for information on low- and no-cost spay/neuter programs in your area if money is a barrier to getting your pet fixed.
Is it possible for a cat to be uncomfortable in the heat?
It’s difficult for us to understand all that’s going on in a cat’s mind and body, especially when cats are excellent at concealing their discomfort. However, it is realistic to assume that there will be some level of pain.
There are also psychological and emotional considerations to take into account. For example, an infertile cat has a solid physiological drive to mate, and as a result, they may become frustrated with each heat cycle in which mating does not happen.
Can Being in Heat Cause Health Problems?
One such common and potentially fatal health danger is a “pyometra,” an infection that causes the uterus to fill with pus and bacteria, resulting in a ruptured uterus, shock, and death.
Pyometra is most commonly caused by repetitive thickening of the uterine lining after numerous heat cycles without mating. They necessitate an emergency spay surgery to be removed.
Among the warning signs to look out for are:
- Pus or another type of discharge from the vulva
If you observe any of the signs & symptoms mentioned above (even just one or two of them) within a few weeks of your cat’s last heat, your cat should be sent to the veterinarian right once for treatment.
Essential tips to keep in mind:
- The terms heat, oestrus, and estrus are all used to refer to heat cycles in female cats.
- Cats have a breeding season that lasts the entire year virtually.
- In a female kitten, heat cycles can begin as early as four or five months of age, depending on the breed.
- Cats’ heat cycles can last anywhere from a few days to two weeks or longer.
- Cats’ heat cycles repeat every two to three weeks until the cat is neutered or becomes pregnant, at which point the cycle stops.
- Cats may experience pain or discomfort as a result of heat cycles.
The signals of a cat in heat, how long the heat cycle lasts, and the different components of the cycle, as well as how to soothe a cat in heat and how to prevent an undesired cat pregnancy, are now in your grasp. We discovered that a cat’s in-heat behavior can begin at an early age – about five months old – and that it is safe for cats to be spayed around this time. The most effective methods of preventing unplanned cat pregnancy are:
- Having your cat spayed or neutered
- Purchasing a GPS location and activity tracker specifically for your cat.
Thus, your furry friend will be able to calm down from her normal heat cycle and enjoy exploring her territory while you will be able to enjoy your peace of mind!
The reality is that you should refrain from allowing your cat to mate with another unless you are a professional breeder of pedigreed cats. Because our country is experiencing a significant pet population problem, spaying and neutering are strongly advised for the average cat owner. The majority of veterinarians recommend spaying your female cat no later than six months of age. Even though the expense of spaying a cat that is already in heat has increased slightly, it is still possible. Furthermore, spaying your cat will end the unpleasant heat cycles and help prevent future medical problems involving the reproductive organs.
If spaying your cat appears to be an unaffordable financial burden, some veterinarians provide low-cost spay choices supported by charitable groups. Alternatively, contact your local animal welfare organization and inquire if they supply coupons for low-cost spays at local veterinarians. Your veterinarian can advise you on the most cost-effective solutions available in your area—some of which are only slightly more expensive than your monthly cat food budget.