The one thing that a pet parent finds very difficult to digest is when they see their pet becoming sexually mature. Sadly, they are no longer the cuddly and mischievous young kittens they used to be. When a cat starts the heat cycle, it can try the patience of their owners.
As your female cat enters the phase of feline reproduction cycle, they will be openly receptive to any advances male cats make. This phase is called estrus.
What is cat estrus? When do cats go first go into heat?
Cat estrus starts when they become sexually mature, mostly at around six months of age. Some may even go into heat as early as four months of age and others may enter the cycle very late at 10 to 12 months of age. As opposed to dogs who have only two heat cycles a year, cats have several heat cycles in a year. Which means that cats that breed can deliver a litter of kittens at any time of the year.
Signs of cats in heat
Even if you have no experience of being around a cat in heat, you will notice a change in their behaviour as they try to get the attention of the opposite sex. The signs of a cat in heat also bears close resemblance to a cat in pain or distress. It also includes:
- Your pet becoming more affectionate and they tend to rub against you, other animals and even the furniture.
- When you stroke your pet, they may arrange themselves to a mating position with their head down and hindquarters lifted high.
- They will become more vocal, leading to loud yowls in trying to attract the attention of a potential mate.
- They may spray urine around your house to make their presence known and territory familiar to attract a mate.
- Your pet will become restless and pace aimlessly or they may roll on the floor.
- Loss of appetite is also common.
- They may continuously lick their genitals, that will get engorged and swollen. You also might notice a bloody discharge.
- Your cat will want to escape from your home to find themselves a mate. So, they are more likely to scratch at the window screens or run out of your home when the door opens.
How to handle cats in heat?
If you do not plan to breed your cat then you must keep them indoors while they are in heat, even breaking their attempts to flee from your place. Keep in mind that if she runs out she will be at a great risk of contracting an infectious disease like feline leukaemia from an infected male that she plans to mate with. So, for safety purpose its best that you keep her at home.
On the other hand, if you do want to breed your cat then you might want to get in touch with a cat breeder to ensure they mate with a healthy partner.
How long are cats in heat?
The estrous phase usually lasts between 7 and 10 days. If they are not able to mate or fall pregnant they might go into heat anytime within the next three weeks. Cats that are not allowed to breed maybe constantly in heat.
How to prevent a cat from going into heat?
The only way to prevent your pet from going into heat again and again is by having them spayed or neutered. This option can be considered if you do not plan to breed your cat. If you do not want your pet to be spayed or neutered then you have to ensure that they remain at home during their heat cycle.
You can always contact your vet for further professional advice.