Updated: January 19, 2022
You would have wondered why your female cat is constantly calling and displaying strange behavioral patterns. If you have a non-spayed female cat at home, then these odd behaviors will be common once they attain sexual maturity. The heat cycle or estrus cycle happens once your female cat reaches 6 months of age. You must be wondering how often do cats go into heat and what care needs to be taken from your side at this stage.
The following article will clear all of these doubts in detail.
What does it mean when your cat in heat?
A cat in heat or estrus cycle is a common term used to refer to an unspayed female cat, when she attains sexual maturity between the ages 6 and 12 months. The sexual maturity can be different for each cat breed; some may attain maturity early like the Siamese, others may take a few more months.
How often do cats go into heat?
Dogs come into heat twice a year, while female cats are fertile for a longer duration. Female cats are polyestrous, which means they can come into heat several times a year. Female cats reach sexual maturity between 6 to 12 months, while male cats take some more time. Cat is in estrus cycle when she is in heat. This is the time when she is receptive to male cats. The estrus cycle can last for 7 to 10 days or even longer every few weeks. In the world of commercial cat breeding, the female cat is referred to as a “queen”. The length of an estrus cycle of a female cat and its frequency depends a lot on various factors like season, daylight hours, proximity to male cats, overall health, surroundings, genetic factors and age of the cat. Once she goes into heat she may stay so for at least seven days every few weeks. This period can last for more than seven days until she mates. They can conceive any time of the year when in heat, which means if your female cat is not spayed it can be a very daunting task for the owner as you may have many unwanted kittens around the house.
Once the cat is in heat you may notice some strange behavioral changes, which may be initially difficult to understand. Her personality and mood changes drastically for the duration and she will be ready for mating. She may lookout for tomcats in the surroundings by constant calling. This behavior will continue unless you get her spayed or until she conceives.
What to do when your cat is in heat?
If you have an unspayed cat at home, then be prepared to calm your feline friend when she is in heat, though it is a natural process. Expect her to go into heat a few times in a year if you have not spayed her. The estrus cycle can last for a week or two until she mates. During this period she will display strange behavioral patterns, which is normal. She may be aggressive, agitated, anxious, and irritable, will shower extra affection and show attention seeking behavior. As a cat owner keeping your kitty calm during this time is crucial.
Firstly, identify the reasons for her strange behavior to rule out any other reasons for her symptoms. When in heat, cats are restless, anxious, rub against the floor, roll on objects and excessively vocalize, especially at night. During this time your feline friend needs care and attention and this can be achieved by being with her. You can stroke and pet her by rubbing her to ease her anxiety. You can offer her toys to play so that she can divert her energy towards something positive. This will ease her mental discomfort and her desire to mate. If you don’t want your cat to go out and mate, then you have to secure the doors and windows to prevent tomcats in the neighborhood from entering your house. Cover the windows and cat flaps so that she doesn’t venture out looking for male cats. If you have an unneutered male cat around it can trigger a season in an unspayed female cat. If you don’t want kittens at home, then it would be wise to keep the female cat away from the male cat.
If you find her behavior difficult to tolerate you can even consult a veterinarian. A vet may be able to give your kitty a hormone medication to ease her symptoms, so that she will be able to calm down a bit. There are various such products available in the pet store, but make sure you get them approved by a Vet before you decide to give it to your cat.
Spaying is the best procedure to prevent unwanted kittens and to eliminate the heat symptoms. Spaying is a medical procedure where in the uterus and ovaries of the female cat are removed to prevent the estrus cycle and unwanted pregnancies. This is the permanent solution to calm your cat, though it may not be recommended when in heat as it can lead to excessive bleeding. The vet may be the right person to take a decision on this. If you still want to breed from your cat, then the ideal thing would be to plan the process properly after careful consideration. If you are a registered breeder and want a planned mating then you can go ahead and allow your cat to mate.
Cats are seasonal maters and they may go into heat several times a year and produce litter any time of the year. Spring is the most ideal time for cats to mate when the daytime is longer. How long do cats stay in heat depends on various above factors. A cat stays in heat for a week and if she doesn’t get pregnant by then you can expect her to go into heat after a few weeks again until she gets pregnant.
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