A cat in heat is a subject of discussion mostly amongst the animal enthusiasts. The pet owners should have enough knowledge about a cat in heat because of the consequences and dilemmas it causes.
Typically a female cat in heat bestows distinct features that influence the way she acts and behaves. And therefore the question arises on how long do cats stay in heat? But before knowing its answer, we will first try to understand what does a ‘cat in heat’ mean?
What is Cat’s Heat?
Cat in Heat is the term used for a female cat in her estrus phase. Which means a cat is ready to breed and conceive when in heat. It is quite essential to know the reproductive cycle of your feline mate. However, if your cat is already spayed then she will not experience the estrus phase.
For others who have a very young kitten and is not spayed yet, here are some of the answers to your questions about a cat’s reproductive phase.
When Does a Cat’s Heat Cycle Begin?
Most of the cats experience their first heat cycle when they reach about 4-6 months of their age. However, a few cats experience it as late as a year. Cats display a sexually inclined behavior around this period of their age.
In humans, a regular menstruation cycle shows their age of productivity. On the contrary, a heat phase is determined in the cats by nature and the atmosphere.
A cat’s hormones are sexually stimulated when the sunlight is available for longer hours. Which means mostly between March and September. However, an indoor cat can enter into heat anytime, as she is exposed to artificial lights for 24 hours.
How Long Do Cats Stay in Heat?
There are several stages of a cat’s reproductive cycle. The stage which is termed “in heat” is when a cat needs to mate and get impregnated. Generally, a cat can be in heat for about 7 to 14 days.
However, there is no definite answer on how many days a cat stays in the heat. A cat feels the heat symptoms for many days or sometimes even weeks. Read on to understand the complete reproductive cycle.
This is the phase before entering in the Heat. The cat tries to attract male cats during this period, however, is not ready to mate.
The estrus phase is the “in Heat” phase. A cat(Queen) has sexual urges on its peak during this period. She will draw male cats towards her by giving different signals that she is receptive to mating.
The queen can become pregnant if she mates during estrus. Typically, queens want to mate about four to six times when in heat, to conceive. The queen might mate with many male cats when she is in heat. Hence can give birth to 4 to 6 kittens with different fathers.
When a queen does not mate or impregnate in heat, she will go into the interestrus phase. Her estrogen level will drop and she will stop showing signs of sex urges. But after a few days, she again enters the Estrus cycle.
This cycle of entering into proestrus, then estrus, and lastly interestrus will remain throughout the mating season. The cycle will stop only once the queen becomes pregnant.
This is the cat’s inoperative time. The reproductive hormone levels fall, mostly when it is not a mating season. In an outdoor cat, the hormones are stimulated by sunlight when days are longer. Therefore, during winters when the days are shorter, cats do not go into heat.
Indoor cats receive artificial lights in all seasons and hence may continue going into heat throughout the year.
What Are the Symptoms of a Cat in Heat?
A cat will show symptoms which might seem crazy and irritating to you.
Restlessness: Throughout the estrus phase, a cat will stay impatient, restless, and hungry. She might behave more affectionate towards you than often.
Screaming: Female cats try to express that they are in heat by screaming and meowing loudly. This behavior is basically to get the attention of male cats. But it’s very annoying for the cat owners especially when the cats scream at night. You will feel as if your cat is screaming of agony or pain.
Rolling and rubbing: She will roll on the floor and rub herself onto almost anything. She will spray/urinate too frequently. She does this to leave her smell everywhere to attract the opposites.
Swollen genital: Your cat will raise her back to show she is ready to mate and her genital would be swollen. This symptom directly shows that a cat is in heat.
Hungry: You will notice a rise in her appetite more than usual. She might become extra demanding and very sensitive.
Excessive grooming: The cat will start grooming herself more to calm her urges. She will want you to massage her furs more, mainly on her back.
Agitation: Cats in heat can reveal jealousy, aggression or stress if they dont find a partner to mate with. Indoor cats are more prone to such behaviors as the owners restrict them from mating.
How to Calm a Cat in Heat?
A cat will keep on experiencing in-heat symptoms every few days. This will lead her to pain and confusion after not getting a partner to mate. She might also suffer from psychic illness due to extreme stress.
It is suggested to take your cat to a veterinarian. They can examine and prescribe some drugs which may reduce the heat pain in cats for some time. These drugs also adversely affect the cat, hence are not good for long term use. You have to make sure that the litter box clean.
Moreover, the heat phase can be very disturbing for you to handle and calm the cat. It is, therefore, best to get your cat spayed under a veterinarian’s care.
What if Your Cat is Not Spayed?
A kitten can get pregnant as soon as she reaches her first heat. The hormones will force her to search for a mate. She will cry out loud to call the Toms(male cats). This will probably attract many male cats to your house, which you might not like.
If you will restrict her from mating, then it will again cause too much pain to her. Neither you will be able to handle her behavior nor her loud screams. And you definitely won’t like to see her in pains, every time she enters in heat.
She might even try to escape from the house which could end in extremely bad consequences. Furthermore, at that young an age, her body won’t be mature enough to bear a pregnancy. This can be harmful to both the cat and her kittens if she gets impregnated.
Moreover, if you choose to let your cat become pregnant, you will be appending to the pet’s overpopulation. Even older cats do not experience menopause. Hence, innumerable kittens are born and left in shelters each day. And with increasing numbers, many cats have to be euthanized to make spaces in shelters.
Why Get the Cats Spayed?
Spaying a cat means she can no more ovulate. In some cases, even the uterus is removed so it can release no reproductive hormones. After spaying, the cat will not experience the reproductive cycle, hence no in heat phase.
She can stay calm, happy and healthy without a need to mate or suffer due to her natural instincts. You too can stay relaxed once she is spayed. If yours is a male cat, then make sure to get him neutered too.
Spaying or neutering kittens, as young as four months of their age, is usually recommended. However, you could ask your vet which is the best time for your kitten to get spayed.
Take Care of the Cat’s Well-Being
If your cat has managed to escape during the in-heat phase and is pregnant, then do not get her spayed while in pregnancy. A cat’s pregnancy lasts for about 9 weeks. Take her to the vet and ask for useful tips about a stress-free delivery.
Most cats manage to give a healthy birth to a litter of kittens on their own. Make sure you get her spayed later to avoid the in heat stage and the ovulation.