The estrous cycle of a cat is commonly known as the heat cycle. Female cats first go into heat depending upon their breed and environmental factors. Most cats are ready to mate by the time they are six months old. Certain breeds can go into heat as early as four months old. But for the most part, cats are ready to breed before they are a year old.
Female cats go into heat, whereas male cats don’t. Male cat only gets aroused by the smell of vaginal and urinal secretion, which are left behind by a female during her period of heat. After the male is aroused, he will seek the female cat to mate.
However, things are very different when it comes to a female cat. They are polyestrous, which means that a female cat will go into heat several times a year. Once they are mature enough to mate, female cats can go into heat for up to 4-6 days. However, if they don’t get a chance to mate, this period could be extended by up to 3 more days.
This heat cycle or estrous cycle will repeat every two weeks. Cats can get pregnant at any time of the year; however, their breeding season depends on the geography and environmental conditions. The temperature and the length of the day play a vital role in a cats breeding cycle.
Cats go into heat during the seasons, where the day is longer than the night. This means that most cats do not go into heat during winters. In Europe, the estrous cycle begins from the beginning up until the middle of the year. In America, the cycle lasts from early spring until the last part of autumn. But cats living in a tropical region or indoors might get into heat all year round.
Symptoms of a cat in the heat:
When a female cat is in heat, she will have different kinds of symptoms. The symptoms get severe as her heat progresses. Some of the primary symptoms which the cat shows for the first one to two days are:
Wet and enlarged vulva:
One of the most common signs of a cat in heat is an enlarged vulva, which will be normally wet. This symptom is not effectively visible to the naked eyes.
It is one of the most apparent primary signs of a cat in heat.
A cat will have an increased appetite during the primary stages of its heat. However, this can be a sign for other reasons as well.
when a cat is in the primary stages of her heat, she will mark her presence with her urine to call on the male cats.
This can be seen in a cat during her heat. She will call on the male cats by vocalizing sounds.
As the cat’s heat progresses, her symptoms will also become much more visible. After two days of her initial heat, the signs will become worse, and some other signs may also develop
As her heat progresses, the vocalization increases. This will show that a cat is getting more heated.
Responses from the male cats:
With further progression of her heat, she will also start receiving more attention from the male cats. Some male cats may even try to jump on her and bite her.
Seeks more attention:
The cat starts demanding more attention from her owners when her heat progresses. She will wave through the owner’s leg and also hub herself against the leg.
One of the most common symptoms of a cat in heat is hip-swinging as she walks. This is just another way for the cat to get some more attention.
Crawl and roll on the floor:
You will also see a cat rolling on the floor and crawl in an unusual manner when she is in heat. It might even seem like the cat had just consumed some catnip.
Treading the hind legs:
This is a common symptom of a cat in heat
These entire symptoms are the most common ones, which you will see when a cat is in heat. However, these symptoms normally go away after 5-10 days after the cat has mated. But if a cat did not mate during this period, the symptoms may even last for more days.
After the heat is over, a female cat can aggressive if the male tries to mate with her. They simply refuse to mate once their heat is gone.
What to do when a cat is in heat
A cat in heat can be quite a problem for some people. The sound of a cat in heat can be unsettling. Here are some of the things you should do when your cat is in heat.
Calming your cat:
When your cat is in heat, she might need some extra attention and care. You can calm her by giving her a ton of love and affection. Petting her and stroking her with a brush might help in keeping her stress levels down.
Giving her space:
Some cats will prefer to be left alone instead of when they are in heat. She might get irritated easily and act aggressively around you. This is just a sign for you to leave her alone. Give her some space and make sure she is comfortable.
When in heat, a cat might get the urge to hunt. You must keep her occupied and steer her away from those urges. You can do this by distracting her with toys. This might take her mind off the urges she has.
Keep your home secure:
A cat in heat will want to escape outside. In order to prevent that, it is important that you seal off any routes through which she can escape. Close the windows and doors and also block the doggie doors.
Herbal remedies are recommended only when it becomes absolutely necessary. Catnip is a great way to relieve your cat from heat. This plant has a calming effect on cats. Rescue remedy is also a good choice. Avoid dosing your cat with too many herbs. They can have a negative effect on your cat. Use them once or twice a week only when all else fails.
Keep the litter box clean:
It is vital to keep the litter box clean. This will encourage the cat to mark their territory in the litter box. Cats normally do this when they are in heat. However, if the litter box is dirty, the cat will mark her territory on your sofa or carpet. This will ruin your furniture.
Spaying your cat:
Spaying your cat is a great way to deal with a cat’s heat if you have no intention of breeding your cat. Spaying simply means the neutering of a female cat. It is a process through which the ovaries and uterus of a cat are surgically removed. If you want to spay your cat, it is best to do it before your cat reaches maturity. The ideal period is when your cat is about 4-5 months old.
Spaying cats prevents the cat from ever going into heat. This way, you won’t have to deal with this situation. It also prevents the birth of unwanted litters if you don’t want any.
At what stage of the heat do cats get pregnant?
Female cats can get pregnant anytime when in heat. Cats ovulate based on their actions. The process of mating stimulates the eggs and releases them from their ovary. Cats require up to 3-4 times of mating in 24 hours in order to ovulate. However, it only takes a few minutes for a cat to mate, and during the estrous cycle, a cat my mate several times in a short amount of time.
Female cats mate with multiple male cats in this period, so the litters may have a different father. And once the cat ovulates, the heat goes away after a day or two. Therefore ovulation also influences the duration of a cat’s heat.
A cat’s pregnancy usually lasts for about 63 to 69 days. The average duration is nine weeks. The cat’s heat will come back again after it has given birth. Most of the time, it takes about seven weeks or until the kittens stop suckling. In cases of false pregnancy, the cat will return to its normal cycle after 35-40 days.
Should you spay your cat in heat?
A cat in heat can be spayed when in the heat if it becomes too much to handle. However, most veterinarians will advise against it. A cat has additional blood circulation in their body when they are in heat. Surgery during this period can lead to excessive bleeding and may even endanger the life of your cat. The veterinarian will advise you to wait for the heat period to be over before spaying is performed.
Even though a female cat goes into heat several times a week, it is important that you tolerate its behavior and show all the love and affection you can offer. They did not ask to get into heat. The way you deal with it can also help your cat in coping with the heat. Have a little patience, and by showing your care, the cat can get through the heat period with minimum discomfort and stress.