Cat In Heat: Signs, Symptoms, & What To Do

An un-spayed female cat is oftentimes called a “Queen.” In fact, the name is so accurate that during a female cats’ heat cycle, they are basically treated as queens by male cats called “Toms” that fight amongst themselves in order to get the right to mate with a female.

The period in which female cats go into heat is called an “estrus” and it is during this time that they become sexually receptive towards the male species.

Queens usually wander about attracting a number of toms when in heat and this usually lasts for about 4-5 days. If a queen fails to get pregnant within this timeframe, it may go into heat once again in a few weeks.

two cats in love

The reason for this is because cats are seasonally poly-estrus animals and can go through a number of heat cycles per year. Apart from that, they are also induced-ovulators and the act of intercourse is the only time an egg would travel to the uterus. This characteristic gives cats the ability to produce a litter of kittens with many different fathers.

Cats may experience significant changes in behavior during estrus.

When Does A Cat’s First Heat Begin?

Kittens as young as 5 months old can already go into heat while there are also those that start late at 12 months. Despite this, cat owners should prevent their kittens from mating because their bodies, especially their reproductive organs, are yet to completely develop.

Signs And Symptoms of A Cat Going In Heat

  • One of the first signs that your cat is going into heat is that it starts to vocalize incessantly. The cat would meow, yowl, or moan relentlessly in order to call out a mate. This is probably one of the most annoying things about a cat in heat as these vocalizations tend to become louder and more intense whether it is day or night.
  • During estrus, the cat may start to become restless.
  • She will also start rubbing her body everywhere from your leg to your furniture or even the floor. While this may seem like a regular habit for cats, it would be done more than usual because the cat wants to place its scent everywhere to let the tomcats know of her status.
  • A cat in heat may also start wondering around and may not be able to return home in a couple of days until the heat passes.
  • If your cat is not one for the outdoors but all of a sudden develops an interest, there is a high chance it’s going into heat.
  • Your cat may also start shaking from time-to-time.
  • Female cats are known for spraying objects during heat because their urine contains large quantities of the hormone estrogen which is important in attracting males.
  • Some females make a habit of rolling on the ground.
  • Female cats in heat may also start to lick their genitals excessively. During this period, cats may develop a swollen vulva and a slight discharge.
  • Lastly, a female cat will assume the position of lying flat on its tummy with its buttocks raised high to make penetration easier for the males.

What To Do When Your Cat Is In Heat

Because of the behavioral changes that a queen experiences during estrus, it can become quite a trying time not just for the cat but for its owner as well. Here are some of the things you can do for your pet when it is in heat.

  • Make sure your cat is actually in heat. It is important that you confirm the true status of your cat by observing the signs and symptoms mentioned above because if your cat is not in heat and it is exhibiting odd behavior, then there is a large chance that it may actually be sick.
  • Keep it away from males. If you don’t want your cat getting pregnant, you may need to isolate it from the males. Close off all doors, windows, and any opening the cat might use. This is also important because a female in heat can get quite excited in the presence of a male.

Close off all your curtains so that the cat may not even see a glimpse of any male. Make sure everything is secured because a cat in heat can become an excellent escape artist if you’re not careful.

  • Leave your cat alone for a while. Since you’re trying to keep it away from any male, your cat might become irritable towards you. Give your cat some space and don’t take it to heart when it suddenly lashes out.
  • Pamper it with lots of attention. If your cat isn’t irritable, you can do the opposite of the previous point. Instead of giving it space, you can shower it with lots of attention by constantly brushing its fur and petting it. Doing so may reduce its level of stress and anxiety.
  • Devote some playtime. When your cat becomes too restless, you can devote a couple of minutes to play with it just to distract it even for a little while.
  • Try using catnip. Cats have varying reactions when it comes to catnip. Some cats become calm and relax when given catnip but there are also those who become even more agitated.
  • Prepare a warm wet towel. There are cats that enjoy sitting on a warm wet cloth or towel when in heat. Just make sure that the temperature of the wet cloth isn’t too hot for the cat to sit on.

The Different Stages of Feline Estrus Cycle

  • Proestrus

This is the first stage of the heat cycle and usually lasts two days. During this stage, your cat will not exhibit the typical signs of heat yet but it will become attractive to the male species of its kind. However, it will not be willing to mate.

  • Estrus

This is the actual heat cycle that your cat will be experiencing along with the surfacing of the signs and symptoms of estrus mentioned above. Lasting for about three to 14 days, this heat cycle is often mistaken as signs that the cat is in pain but it actually isn’t. If your cat isn’t mated within this period, then the cycle may repeat itself in a few days or weeks.

  • Interestrus

This is the time that passes when the cat fails to be mated during estrus and usually lasts up to three weeks.

  • Diestrus or Metestrus

This is the stage after your cat is successfully bred, lasting up to a month and a few days. If pregnancy occurs, it may last until two months or up to 64 days.

  • Anestrus

When your cat finishes its heat cycle, it will become hormonally and sexually inactive for a few months, usually two to three.

The Solution: Spaying

If you have no plans to breed your cat, it is recommended that you have it spayed in order to spare you and your pet the distress that estrus can cause. Spaying is a surgical procedure aimed at removing the ovaries and the uterus of female dogs and cats in order to render them incapable of reproducing and free them from the effects of estrus.

The best time to spay your cat would be before it goes into its first heat to prevent accidental pregnancies and even reproductive diseases. While it is possible to spay your cat during estrus, it may cost you more because the procedure is further complicated by the engorged blood vessels which may cause excessive bleeding.

Furthermore, spaying is a surgical procedure that should be conducted only by qualified veterans. Before you have your cat spayed, make sure to check a vet or vet clinic’s credentials to make sure your pet will be well taken care of and that the operation goes smoothly and successfully.

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