If you have ever raised a young cat, you will notice that as they mature, they may start to act funny. This is one of the many signs that your cat might be going into heat.
When we say a cat is "in heat," it refers to her being fertile and ready to mate with a cat of the opposite sex. How can you tell if your cat is in heat? How long does a cat stay in heat? And what can you do to avoid this? Read on to find out.
What Is The Estrous Cycle?
The proper name for your cat's heat cycle is the "estrous cycle." The estrous cycle typically consists of five stages:
⦁ Starting at Proestrus which lasts for 1-2 days, the female may attract males but is not receptive to mating yet.
⦁ This shifts into Estrus, when the female is "in heat." She will be receptive to males and may become pregnant. You may also notice some behavioral changes in your cat during this period. Your cat's strong natural mating instinct will kick in, and they may try to mate with any cat of the opposite gender they find.
⦁ If the cat becomes pregnant, she enters the diestrus phase.
⦁ If the cat does not become pregnant, however, she will instead enter interestrus, the period between heats, which can last for 2-3 weeks.
⦁ The Final is the anestrus phase, when the female is reproductively dormant, usually lasting around 2-3 months.
When Does A Cat First Go Into Heat?
Cats have their first estrous cycle when they reach sexual maturity or puberty. Most cats reach this stage when they are about six months of age but may also start as early as 4 months or as late as 12 months of age. Most cats may come into heat every year, around February to October, but this may vary according to geography and environmental factors, including temperature and the number of daylight hours.
How Often Does A Cat Come Into Heat?
If your cat becomes pregnant, she will usually give birth within 63-65 days. After giving birth, once the original estrous cycle ends, the cat may go into heat again. This can be 4 weeks after giving birth. While the cat may mate, it may take a few months for the cat to get pregnant again.
If your cat doesn’t get pregnant, she will continue to go into heat every two to three weeks. Since cats are seasonally polyestrous, they can have multiple heating cycles during the breeding season. Indoor cats exposed to artificial light all year round may come into heat all year long, as is common in cats in North America.
Cats do not generally undergo menopause like humans, so they will continue to undergo the estrous cycle for their entire lives.
How Long Are Cats In Heat?
How long does cat heat last? Each heat period during the estrous cycle may last for several days, the average length being seven days. However, this period can also be relatively shorter, up to two days or even longer, up to three weeks.
So coming to your question, how long are cats in heat, the actual period ranges from 2 to 19 days for a female cat. These heat cycles will then repeat every two to three weeks once they begin (unless she gets pregnant) and will continue throughout the cat's life.
Signs That Your Cat Is In Heat
Now that you know how long cat heat lasts, we now discuss some of the most common signs to look out for in your cat that may point towards her being in heat.
⦁ Having your cat "meowing" at you is normal, but if you notice your cat being much more noisy than usual, she might be in heat. She may give our distressing cries or even howls, loud enough that they may even wake you up at night.
⦁ If your cat is more restless than usual, this is also a sign that she may be in heat. She may find it difficult to get relaxed or comfortable for more than a few minutes.
⦁ Your cat will show a lot more affection to their humans when they are in heat. They want to be stroked, scratched, and petted, particularly around the lower back. She will also want to snuggle up next to you more than often.
⦁ This may seem unusual, but a female cat will start to spray urine on specific areas around the house. This is because the cat pee contains pheromones and hormones, which will help signal males nearby.
⦁ You will notice changes in your cat's grooming behavior. When your cat is in heat, she may start to clean her genital areas excessively.
⦁ You may notice your cat rubbing herself near your or other items around the house. This is them trying to spread their scent far so they can attract a male.
⦁ Your cat will want to leave home more often; this may be a bit unusual for an indoor cat.
⦁ Finally, pay attention to your cat's tail. She may move her tail quickly from side to side or raise it higher.
At What Age Can A Cat Get Pregnant?
Cats don’t age as humans do; they grow up much faster. They reach sexual maturity by the age of four months and soon get into heat. How long does cat heat last? As mentioned earlier, the heat period will last for up to 7 seven days on average. During this time, they may very well get pregnant.
*Related Post: How To Tell If Your Cat Is Pregnant?
How To Prevent Your Cat From Going Into Heat?
Some behaviors your cat may exhibit when in heat may be frustrating for pet parents. You also want to avoid your pet cat getting pregnant. The only real way to stop your cat from going into heat or getting pregnant is to have her spayed or neutered.
You should have your kitten spayed as early as eight weeks, but be sure to consult a veterinarian to confirm that your kitten has reached an appropriate age for neutering. As long as you have your cat neutered before the first heat cycle, you can avoid your cat getting pregnant or displaying unwanted behaviors.