Heat - otherwise known as 'estrous cycle or calling'. A cat in heat is when the female cat or queen is fertile & receptive to mating. Estrus is also seasonal & depends on a number of factors including the number of daylight hours, age & general health.

There are actually four phases to the cat's 'estrus' cycle;

  • Proestrus
  • Estrus
  • Metestrus
  • Diestrus

This article will look at 'estrus' - which is the second phase.

At what age does estrus begin?

Estrus begins at puberty, when this starts varies from cat to cat & breed. Some breeds such as the Siamese can call as early as four or five months. Other breeds may not reach sexual maturity until 10 months or older.

Mating Season:

Cats tend to be seasonal maters, although they may go into heat & produce a litter at any time of the year. Typically, 'kitten season' begins in spring time, when the days start to become longer.

How do I know my cat is in heat?

Cats are poly-estrus, that means they will have more than one heat cycle in a year. Signs of estrus include;

  • The cat may become extra affectionate towards people & other cats, rubbing against their legs, or weaving in & out between their legs or rolling on the floor.
  • If she is stroked, she may lay her front half low, and raise her hindquarters, treading up & down, & move her tail from side to side.
  • Persistent vocalisation. This is often louder than usual & can be described as a yowl.
  • Licking of the genital region.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • She may spray on vertical surfaces.

Some cats are what is known as 'silent callers' & may display none of the above signs.

If your cat is in heat, keep her indoors. If she is an indoor cat already, be extra careful to keep windows & doors closed because she will be keen to get to a male cat & mate.

How long does estrus last?

Estrus typically lasts for 7 to 10 days. If your cat doesn't become pregnant then it will repeat every 14 - 21 days until she does become pregnant.

There are three possible outcomes;

  • The cat mates & becomes pregnant.
  • The cat mates, doesn't become pregnant, has a pseudo pregnancy (also known as a 'false pregnancy') & comes back into heat 30 or so days later.
  • The cat doesn't mate & comes into heat 14 - 21 days later.

How can I prevent my cat coming into heat?

The only guaranteed way to prevent a queen from coming into heat is to have her Spayed (sterilised). Not only will this prevent 'calling' & ensure no unwanted kittens are brought into the world but there are also health benefits to sterilising a female cat. Entire cats are at risk of developing cancer of the uterus or ovaries, pyometra & breast cancer.

What should I do if my cat comes into heat?

Keep her indoors & away from any 'entire' male cats & book an appointment with your veterinarian as soon as possible.

If she does get out & mate, it is not too late and she can still be sterilised. Speak to your veterinarian about this.

Should I let my cat mate when she is in season?

Unless you are a registered breeder, and this is a planned mating then you should not permit your cat to mate.

There is a huge cat overpopulation problem & breeding your cat just contributes to this. For every kitten you have, which you may pass on to friends or neighbours, that is one kitten in a shelter who could have been rehomed.

Also, unless you have tested the tom (male cat), there is no way you will know if he has either FIV or FeLV, both of which are viruses which are fatal in cats.

Spaying can be performed while your cat is in heat, but veterinarians typically prefer to spay a cat who isn't in estrus.

Fact: An intact female, her mate and all of their offspring producing 2 litters per year with 2.8 surviving kittens per litter can equal to 11 801 cats in 5 years or 11 606 077 cats in 9 years!

Now ask yourself – would you like to be part of the problem or the solution?

Please click here for more information on sterilisation.


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