If you have an unspayed female cat and it is exhibiting weird behaviors, there are chances that your pet is going through a heat cycle. This is the period when the cats are looking to attract a male partner and they are ready to get pregnant. A cat can have its first heat cycle at the age of just four months old. Even though the average age of getting the first heat cycle is usually anywhere between five to ten months for most cats. At such an early age, they are capable of having children. This is the reason why cats are overpopulated. So if you are a cat lover, the best thing you can do for cats is to have your female cat spayed and not add to the overpopulation problem of cats. However, if your cat hasn’t been spayed and you are seeing some weird behaviors, you need to know what to expect and be ready for handling any situation that you may face with your cat. 

Signs Your Cat Is in Heat

Vocalizing: You will notice your cat meowing more often, especially at night. It is doing so to attract males and get pregnant. This is the sign that is most annoying for us humans as it will disturb us in the middle of our sleep. While it is annoying to us, it is a signal on their part that they are on the market for a mate.

Urine Spraying/Rubbing on Things: The goal of the cat is to spread its scent and attract its male companions. And once again, the urine spraying bit may be annoying for us humans.

Begging to Go Outside: If you are noticing that your cat is always staying near the doors and windows and it is looking to go outside, there are high chances that it is going through a heat cycle. It wants to go outside in search of a male companion and get pregnant.

Affectionate and Aggressive Behavior: You will notice mood swings in your cat if it is going through a heat cycle. At times, it may be a little too affectionate and the complete opposite at other times.

There are also other behaviors like rolling on the floor, raising hind end into the air, wiggling the high end if someone strokes their back spine that suggest your cat is in heat. If you see these symptoms, then what you are going to read next is really important for you. You will find the answer to how long are cats in heat in the next section and what is your best of course of action.

When Is Your Cat in Heat?

A cat heat cycle typically occurs from February to late October in the Northern Hemisphere. This is no surprise that there is a massive surge in pregnant cats in the warmer, brighter months. The heat cycle in cats occurs because of the lack of a hormone which is called melatonin. Melatonin is secreted at night and because of longer day periods, this hormone is reduced which affects the hypothalamus of the cat. Then, reproductive hormones are secreted by the cat, and the heat cycle begins.

The Heat Cycle of Cats:

If you are looking for the answer to the question of how long are cats in heat, you will find the answer in this section. Cats are polyestrous creatures. This means that unlike us humans, they go through multiple heat periods in a year. A typical heat cycle in cats can last anywhere between three to sixteen days while the average is seven days. While the length of the heat cycle is pretty standard, it is the frequency of the heat cycles that are an issue. They keep going through these heat cycles up to late October unless they either become pregnant or they are spayed. They keep coming back to this heat cycle every two to three weeks in the months between February to October. We will have a better understanding of why this happens if we take a closer look at the stages of the heat cycle in a cat.

Stages of Heat Cycle:

 how long are cats in heat

Proestrus: This stage typically lasts for only a period of two days. She may be vocal and raise her hind end during proestrus. In this stage, she is attractive to unneutered males but she is not willing to mate at this stage.

Estrus: This is the stage that we refer to as the heat cycle. This is when the cat’s body is ready for sexual activity. You will notice increased vocalization and affection at this stage. The answer to how long is a cat in heat is that it usually stays in heat for seven to ten days on average. So, seven days on average is how long are cats in heat.  A female unstayed cat is called a queen. Queens usually need to mate between four to six times to become pregnant. If they get pregnant, they will give birth to a litter of kittens that may have different fathers.

Interestrus: If breeding doesn’t take place during the heat cycle, then the cat will go into interestrus. This is a period of inactivity and this is also called the period between heat cycles. At the end of this stage, the cat will go into Estrus again. This stage can last anywhere from 3 days to 2 weeks. So, if you are wondering how often does a cat go in heat, the answer is a lot. This keeps on happening unless a cat is either stayed or she is pregnant.

What Should You Do?

The best thing you can do for your cat is to get it spayed. Cats are already overpopulated and many of them are waiting in shelters to find a home where someone will take care of them. A cat can give birth to a litter of five kittens at a time and this will only add to the overpopulation problem of cats. However, if your unstayed female cat is already in heat and you don’t know what to do, consulting a veterinarian is your best option. Trust their advice as they will know what to best. Some may suggest doing the spaying process in the middle of the heat or some may suggest doing it after the heat cycle ends depending on the health and the overall well-being of the cat. So, the best we can do for our feline friends are making sure that we take good care of them and ensuring that there aren’t too many of them waiting in shelters to find a home.

Related: How Long Are Cats Pregnant? – Everything About The Cat’s Pregnancy

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