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Everything You Need to Know About Cats in Heat
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Everything You Need to Know About Cats in Heat

Critter Culture Staff

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First-time cat owners might be surprised if their female cat suddenly starts to exhibit odd behaviors. Meaning behaviors stranger than sitting in tiny boxes for no reason and chasing laser pointers that is. Perhaps she's become more affectionate out of nowhere or start wailing loudly in the middle of the night. Maybe she’s even been wanting to go out more than usual. These are all incredibly common signs of estrus, the feline fertile period also known as heat.

1

When Do Cats First Go Into Heat?

The majority of female cats go into heat—or estrus—by six months, but there are times in which this isn't the case. You might find certain breeds of cat going into heat earlier than others such as Siamese, who may go into heat when they're just four months old. If your cat hasn't yet come into heat by the time they're six months old, that's also nothing to worry about. Some cats can even go up to ten months without experiencing their first heat. It all depends on the individual cat, but 4-10 months is a very plausible benchmark.

cat meowing at air Webkatrin001 / Getty Images

2

What are the Signs My Cat is in Heat?

Although every cat is different, when they are in heat, they display typically uniform behaviors. Cats aren’t unlike humans in that respect, with our changeable moods and our body’s tendency to bloat. For cats, however, their signs are much more physical. One of the most telling signs that your cat is in heat will be that she’s far clingier and attention-seeking than usual. Other signs include spraying urine around the house, rubbing against things more often, and being loudly vocal. In addition to these things, she’ll also assume the ‘estrus’ position, with her tail straight and her rear in the air.

Support your cat's urinary health during her heat cycle with Zesty Paws Cranberry Bladder Bites for Cats.

cute cat in grass Steevy84 / Getty Images

3

How Long Do Cats Stay in Heat?

Like with humans, cats have reproductive cycles that differ from cat-to-cat. Unlike humans, however, a cat's reproductive cycle doesn't come at regular intervals. An outdoor cat's cycle is actually based on nature, like when the sun is out for approximately ten hours. Indoor cats, on the other hand, can come into heat at any time. How long this period lasts can be anything from four days to a couple of weeks.

Keep your cat calm and distracted during her heat cycle with Lick 'n' Lap Snack with Salmon Cat Treat.

Long haired cat in garden TheImaginaryDuck / Getty Images

4

Can I Prevent My Cat Going into Heat?

Yes, but only by spaying. Neutering your cat is the only way to prevent her from going into heat at all in the long run. There is, however, the more temporary option of feline contraceptive measures. You can get injections that are the feline version of the human Depo-Provera birth control shot we humans take. What this does is prevents the cat's ovulation cycle, which should also stop her from going through heat. Although this is a good idea for a temporary solution, there are bad sides to it, as it can put your cat at a higher risk for diabetes, UTIs, or tumors.

Beautiful cat with gold eyes SensorSpot / Getty Images

5

How Often Do Cats Go into Heat?

Cats go into heat often and irregularly. Their cycles can be triggered by the sun or by sexual stimulation from another cat. Because of the number of daylight hours, cats go into heat more often during the spring and the fall. Within those seasons, they can go into heat several times and, if they don't breed during that time, might have an even fiercer heat than the time before. Cats go in and out of heat every one to three weeks, but a lot of vets don't recommend this without her breeding as it can cause endometriosis. Not dissimilar to the way it does in humans.

To help manage the stress and discomfort associated with your cat's frequent heat cycles, consider incorporating Hemp Oil for Dogs and Cats into the routine.

Cat doing self care Ekaterina79 / Getty Images

6

Should I Spay My Cat?

Spaying doesn't only prevent heat or pregnancy; it can also help to prevent UTIs and breast tumors. In cats, these tumors are malignant in roughly 90% of them, so you need to ask yourself if keeping your cat fertile is really in her best interest or not. Many vets believe spaying your cat is the best course of action for you and her. Although there are some cons to having your pets neutered, the benefits vastly outweigh them.

bored cat CatLane / Getty Images

7

What are the Pros and Cons of Spaying?

The pros and cons of spaying both play off each other. For example, one of the pros of having your cat spayed is that she’ll have less chance of developing endometriosis. On the other hand, she might be at a higher risk of some cancers and infections. Similarly, like in dogs, having your cat spayed could cause her to gain more weight due to her needing less food than she used to. But placing those small cons from the pros against actual cons such as overpopulation due to unwanted litters and other cancers.

Kitten in flower pot Emilija Randjelovic / Getty Images

8

What is Heat Like for Cats?

While we can’t know exactly what goes on in a cat’s head when she’s going through heat, we can guess. We can't say with any scientific knowledge that a cat experiences pain while she's in heat as humans do with menstruation. However, when you take into account some of the noises she makes, it's not difficult to imagine that the process is more than somewhat uncomfortable for her.

Tortoiseshell kitten in a hammock Ulianna / Getty Images

9

Do Cats Have Periods?

As in, do cats menstruate? No. Cats in heat shouldn’t experience any blood flow from the vagina. This is due to the fact that cats are polyestrous breeders. What this means is that they go into heat multiple times a year and can even stay in heat while she's pregnant. Although with that in mind, if your cat experiences a little spotting or bleeding, it should be no cause of concern to you or her.

angry persian cat SensorSpot / Getty Images

10

How Do I Handle Cats in Heat?

The constant wailing and howling can be something of a headache, but there are tried and tested ways of calming your cat when she's in heat. She'll howl, screech, and try her very best to get out of the house to find male cats. Although you can calm her down, it's a tricky thing to do and not for the faint of heart. Isolate your cat from male cats and give her something warm, making her a nest to sit in to calm her down. Playing with her might also help. These solutions are only temporary, of course, and un-spayed cats come into heat so often that it might be time to consider other options like surgery.

Sleepy ginger cat Mark_KA / Getty Images

11

Medical interventions for cats in heat

Vet listening fluffy cat using stethoscope during appointment in veterinary clinic

For those not ready to embrace the nocturnes of a cat in heat, modern veterinary science offers a suite of interventions. Hormonal treatments, akin to a pause button on nature's remote, can temper the fervent calls for a mate. While these solutions offer a temporary reprieve, they come with a tapestry of considerations, from potential side effects to long-term health implications. Navigating this path requires a partnership with your veterinarian, ensuring decisions are made in the best interest of your feline friend's health and happiness.

12

The behavioral psychology of cats in heat

Cat in Heat. Three-colored Tabby Cat On Call Sitting on The Windowsill Near The Door Waiting For Any Opportunity to Escape.

A cat in heat is not just a creature driven by biological imperatives but also a being of complex psychological shifts. This period is marked by an increase in affection-seeking behavior, a longing for connection, or perhaps an expression of underlying discomfort. By understanding the psychology behind these behaviors, cat owners can foster a deeper empathy with their pets, offering comfort and security amidst the tumult of the heat cycle. Recognizing these signs as communications rather than nuisances can transform this challenging time into an opportunity for bonding.

13

Indoor enrichment ideas for cats in heat

Entertaining, mental challenges game for cat, can be used for daily feeding with dry food. Slow feeder toy stimulates felines mentally and physically. Playful cat touches and punches food with paw.

The restlessness of a cat in heat calls for creative solutions beyond the typical toy mouse or feather wand. Indoor enrichment, from puzzle feeders that challenge their intellect to cat-safe plants they can explore, can help channel their heightened energy positively. Creating vertical spaces for climbing or secure outdoor enclosures can also satisfy their instinctual need to survey their domain. By enriching their environment, we can help ease the intensity of their heat cycle, making it a less stressful time for both the cat and their human companions.

14

False pregnancies in cats

Portrait of pregnant cat walking on the lawn

The phenomenon of false pregnancy weaves a complex narrative in the tapestry of feline reproduction. Following a heat cycle unfollowed by fertilization, a cat may exhibit all the hallmarks of pregnancy, from nesting behaviors to weight gain, yet no kittens are forthcoming. Understanding this mirage requires a gentle touch and patience, offering support as nature runs its course. Recognizing these signs and providing comfort can navigate your cat through this confusing episode, reaffirming the bond between pet and owner.

15

The role of daylight in feline heat cycles

Lazy British Short Hair cat sleeping on a couch in a flat in Edinburgh, Scotland, with her face squashed as she is fully relaxed

Nature's clock, marked by the ebb and flow of daylight, plays the unsung hero in the story of a cat's reproductive cycle. As days lengthen, the curtain rises on the season of heat, signaling to our feline friends that the stage is set for reproduction. This celestial timing cues pet owners into the rhythms of care and attention required during these hormonal highs. By understanding the role of daylight, we can better anticipate and manage the seasons of our cats' lives, aligning our care with the natural world's tempo.

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