How often does your cat go into heat depends on many factors, and it can be problematic in some cases.
In this article, we will go over some important information and tips that will help you deal with this period and be prepared.
Signs your cat is in heat
Usually one of the signs that you will clearly notice is the distinctive meows that a cat in heat produces as a mating call. It really is very specific and loud, and it can go on for ages. Yes, we have all heard it in the middle of the night, sounds something like this:
She is calling out for males within the neighborhood, saying “I’m young and single, and ready to mingle”.
One of the other symptoms is affection, better said excessive affection. Noticeably more cuddly than normal, and the cat will ask for attention all the time.
Like an overly attached girlfriend, she may not leave your sight, and rub against you, leaving her scent all over you to mark you as hers, warning other females that you are taken.
So, how does it all look like?
When you pet your cat, she may assume a mating position, dropping her head down and putting her bottom and tail up.
Marking the territory
Your cat will start to mark her territory. This is the part almost all cat owners dread and try to avoid. It is the main reason people start thinking about sterilization.
The smell of the urine your cat produces during this period to mark her territory is very overwhelming and a big nuisance.
The next symptom is the escape, or as we like to call it “ a dash for freedom”. This is mostly a problem with indoor cats, but outdoor cats may leave and not come back for a week or two.
It’s their natural instinct driving them to leave the home in search of a potential mate. This can be compared to teenagers who love having their freedom and not being bothered by adults.
Loss of appetite
Loss of appetite is one of the symptoms you should keep your eye on. You don’t have to worry too much about it, the cat is just more focused on breeding than eating. The point is that they will try to look good, in their own way.
This loss of appetite shouldn’t last longer than 2 weeks. On the other side, if it does, it could be a sign that something is wrong and you should check with your local vet.
Excessive licking or grooming
Excessive licking or grooming is also one of the signs that your cat is in heat, and it’s very important to keep your eye on your feline.
Because if your cat is licking itself too much “down there”, if you know what we mean, it’s usually the sign of a urinary tract infection.
What is a heat cycle for a cat?
A heat cycle is a layman’s term for Estrous cycles, which means your female cat is sexually active.
The Estrous cycle starts when your cat reaches sexual maturity (puberty) around 6-9 months of age.
Contrary to popular belief, cats in heat shouldn’t bleed, the confusion arises because a lot of other pets that are mammals do bleed.
If your cat bleeds during this period something else is wrong and you should contact your local vet.
Cats are induced ovulators, which means that the act of breeding stimulates the release of eggs from the ovaries.
Most cats need to mate 3-4 times within a 24-hour period for ovulation to occur. It may only take a few minutes for cats to mate, and cats may mate multiple times in a short period of time and with multiple partners.
Are cats in pain when they are in heat?
People may think that their cats are in pain mostly because of the loud sounds that they produce during the heat cycle.
But remember that the cat is only trying to catch your attention and to call on a potential mate.
A short answer to this is No, at least not according to the current scientific research. The possibility always exists, in a few rare cases, but it is highly unlikely.
If you really believe your cat is in pain or distress, you could try giving it some pain or relaxation medication for cats or contact your local vet for advice.
How long does the heat cycle last?
The length of a heat cycle really depends on what stage of the Estrous cycle your cat is in and if there’s been mating with a male or not.
The heat cycle can be separated into a few stages to help us approximate how long it will last.
The beginning of the heat cycle, which lasts about one to two days, the cat is attracted to male cats, but she is not willing to mate.
The female cat starts being interested in mating and becomes sexually active, this can last between 4-6 days if a male cat is present and around, otherwise it lasts 10-14 days.
Comes after estrus and is between estrus cycles. Your cat will no longer act out mating signals and go back to her normal self. She will go into the estrus cycle every 2-3 weeks until the breeding season is over.
Cats are induced ovulators. This means they release eggs when they mate. This can happen multiple times during a heat cycle.
If a cat mates with more than one male, her litter can be made up of kittens with different fathers.
Once ovulation has occurred, a cat will go out of heat (estrus) within a day or two. If not it will last from 4 days up to 2 weeks.
So, how often are cats in heat?
How many times per year cats enter its heat cycle depends on many factors. Mostly on the season and the amount of daylight and temperature outside.
We can reliably say that the female cat that doesn´t go through sterilization, it will go into heat approximately every 3 months and it lasts between one to two weeks.
What do you need to do when your cat is in heat?
It really depends on your cat’s personality, how she will behave, and what you want to get out of it – meaning whether you want your cat to get pregnant or not.
If you want your cat to get pregnant and get little fluff balls, little kittens, then you need to let your cat go. Yes, she will go freely and find a mate for mating, all by herself.
You just need to know that cats can fight during the selection so keep your eyes on them so that you can break them up before someone gets hurt.
If you want to keep your cat from getting pregnant then you need to keep your cat away from other cats. Preferably, you can do this inside the house, just remember that she will try to escape constantly.
Regardless of your motives, you should keep an eye on your cat during this period so that you can notice if she develops some issues.
Keep the house clean and especially her litter box. Let us remind you of the urinary tract infection we talked about earlier, so look out for her licking herself too much down there.
Give her a bit more love and attention during this period, a few of her favorite treats, maybe some vitamins, play some relaxing music, and play with her a little bit more than usual.
How can you prevent your cat from going into heat?
Unfortunately, there’s no natural, safe and proven solution for this.
Your options are to get your cat on some hormonal prescription drugs that will suppress her heat cycles, some vets will prescribe pills or injections.
The next option is to neuter (spay) your cat; this is actually the best and safest option that you can take. Most experts advise it.
Cats should be sterilized as soon as possible to avoid any problems, between 6-9 months old is usually the best time.
Neutering or Spaying is a medical procedure that makes your cat sterile. When males go through this procedure, the process is called neutering, on the other side, when females go through it, it’s called spaying.
Neutering-Spaying has a lot of health benefits for your cat so don’t be scared. It will improve your cat’s life rather than do any harm.
Spaying prevents diseases, like humans, cats also can pick up a lot of different and dangerous sexually transmitted diseases during mating. Next to that, there are some infections that can occur during the heat cycle, for example, the urinary infection.
Spaying will make your home cleaner by reducing or completely stopping your cat peeing around the home to mark its territory.
It makes cats less aggressive so they will fight less with other cats or humans.
Can cats go into heat after neutering (spaying)?
If a spayed cat starts showing signs of going into heat this may mean that there’s some leftover ovarian tissue, known as “ovarian remnant”, and this tissue is producing estrogen.
A very small amount of ovarian tissue can remain after surgery and this could be enough. On the other side, it can be caused by the presence of accessory ovarian tissue. This is a small piece of tissue that fragmented off the ovary and established enough blood supply to begin producing hormones.
This problem is treatable by your local veterinary so try to contact them as soon as you notice this issue.
Another reason a spayed cat can start showing signs of going into heat is unfortunately adrenal tumors.
This can be difficult to remove and it makes your cat have constant signs of heat because of the hormones it releases. Basically, it does not cycle like it normally should.
One more reason your cat can start showing signs of heat is when hormones affect her externally. This means that your cat has some estrogen in her system.
A lot of our products contain estrogen, for example, skincare creams and supplements. This is where the danger comes, as they can ingest or lick it off and this can make them very sensitive.
When do cats stop going into heat?
Although cats and humans are both mammals, you have to understand that cats don’t have a menstrual cycle as humans do. They use breeding as a stimulus to release the eggs from the ovaries when they mate (during intercourse).
So if you ever wondered do cats go through menopause as humans do, the short answer is no.
It is necessary to spay your cat otherwise it will continue to have heat cycles throughout its life. Of course, this means that it will be able to reproduce.
However, similar to humans, with age comes higher risks of mortality during birth or something going wrong during pregnancy.
We are experiencing a worldwide overpopulation of cats. This is a problem that is occurring and has become so serious in many countries.
Cats are passionate hunters and a lot of times domestic cats hunt for fun. Stray cats, on the other side, are responsible for the extinction of some bird species and other wildlife.
Spaying your cat is good for your cat’s health and it keeps the population in check. We would advise leaving the breeding to professional cat breeders, though.
Animal shelters are overflowing with cats of all sizes, breeds, and ages. You might want to consider adoption if you don’t have a cat but need some fluffy happiness in your home.
Remember, cats are living beings and have all the reproductive needs that most of the animals have. We, cat owners, should just be careful around our pets and keep them safe and healthy during ”those” times.