Getting them out of it: How long do cats stay in heat?

Every cat owner needs to be aware of certain behaviors and temperament distinctive of domestic felines. One of which is the behavioral changes that female felines manifest when they reach sexual maturity. It is therefore essential how long do cats stay in heat.

If you intend to adopt a female pedigree cat, you'll need to decide whether to breed from her or not.

Whether you allow your queen to reproduce or not, you need to understand how feline fertility cycle works. 

A feline typically enters a periodic phase of feline reproduction cycle where she becomes fully receptive to males and mating.

During the heat cycle, your pet may exhibit unexpected behaviors. This period is their version of a human's menstrual period.

There are several ways to help calm your kitty during this period. 

Furthermore, you also have the option to permanently stop your kitty from having a menstrual cycle.

Breeding from a pedigree cat seems like a feasible business. However, the vast responsibility of assuring safe labor and delivery can be challenging.

Not to mention, putting your pet's life at risk in pregnancy and giving birth.

We’re gathered every detail you need to know about a feline’s fertility cycle, when, and how long do cats stay in heat.

When Do Cats Go Into Heat?

Animals are just like us. Felines, in particular, can reach sexual maturity around six months of age.

However, the start of sexual maturity may vary from cat to cat. Some may hit puberty earlier than six months while late bloomers may reach sexual maturity as late as one year old.

One of the most complicated things about feline hormone cycles is the irregular period in which it occurs.

They can go into heat at any time especially if they are sexually stimulated.

With that being said, having no definite date when your pet’s menstrual cycle makes it more complicated.

Moreover, how can we distinguish if our feline pet is going into heat?

A feline's reproductive cycle has several stages.

The best way to determine if they’re getting into heat is to look for signs and sudden behavioral changes.

At the start of the cycle, expect to see some tolerable symptoms such as restlessness and increased appetite.

Later on, you'll notice that they become more affectionate and clingy than usual. 

At the peak of the heat cycle, they'll incessantly howl and scream to get the attention of male cats. 

Now back to the question. How long do cats stay in heat? To have a better understanding of the feline reproductive cycle, here are the different stages that female felines have to go through.

Feline Heat Cycle Stages

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A feline will start her reproductive cycle once she reaches sexual maturity. From that point on, she will periodically undergo four distinct stages.

The four stages of the feline reproductive cycle are:

Stage 1: Proesterus

The feline reproductive cycle starts when a female feline's body becomes ready for conception. Physical changes begin to manifest during this stage.

Her genital organ, in particular, may become slightly swollen and moist during the proesterus phase.

Additionally, she may behave a bit restless and exhibit increased appetite. Male cats tend to show interest in her, but she will not return the interest. This stage can last about 1 to 2 days.

Stage 2: Estrus

how long do cats stay in heat

The estrus phase is when the feline is at the peak of her menstrual cycle. This is the stage where she is actually in heat.

During estrus, sexual reproduction occurs; Moreover, this stage usually lasts from 5 to 10 days.

If you wish your pedigree cat to conceive, this is the right time to introduce her to a tomcat. 

You will notice apparent changes in her behavior at this point which include:

Displays exaggerated affection

Felines are known to be aloof creatures. However, when they get into heat, they become the opposite.

They tend to become extremely affectionate, and demand a lot of attention.

It is advisable to give in to their demands by giving them a head brush or by simply stroking their fur. 

Strikes an alluring pose. 

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A queen in heat usually raises her hips and sticks her bottom in the air while swinging her tail to the side. This unusual pose is an indication that they are ready to mate and as an invitation for a potential mate.

Makes alarming, distinctive call

When female felines go in heat, they become quite vocal.

At the peak of their reproductive cycle, they give off distinctive cries that sound as if they’re in pain. 

Stage 3: Interestrus or Diestrus

how long do cats stay in heat

After the estrus phase, the feline's sexual drive begins to dwindle. At this point, she will not mate and will aggressively reject any tomcat trying to get near her.

If the feline were not bred during the estrus stage, she would enter an interestrus phase that may last about seven days.

During this stage, she will show no sign of reproductive activity for a week and eventually joins the next stage called anestrus.

However, if she mated and ovulated during estrus but did not conceive, she goes through diestrus phase that can last 3 to 5 weeks.

At this point, she may appear pregnant and not show any sign of reproductive activity. 

In case the mating was successful, the feline will skip the entire menstrual cycle and go through pregnancy stage. This stage usually lasts about two months or until she has given birth.

Stage 4: Anestrus

The final stage of the feline reproductive cycle is the anestrus where a female feline's reproductive is on a dormant period.

Anestrus usually last up to 4 months as her physical appearance reverts to normal. Her genital organ is no longer swollen, and she will not exhibit any vaginal discharges.

During this stage, her body allows the uterus to reset and prepare for the next menstrual cycle.

Depending on the breed, environment, and lifestyle, a kitty may start proesterus earlier or later than four months.

Since female felines are polyestrous, they will go through reproductive cycles multiple times all year round until they become pregnant.

How Long Does A feline Stay in Heat?

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If we add up the duration of each stage in the feline reproductive cycle, we can assume that a feline can be in heat for 3 to 4 weeks.

It is also worthy to point out that we did not count in the final stage. This is because anestrus is the period when the feline is no longer in heat.

Also take note that if the feline wasn't bred during estrus period, she tends to extend the estrus period.

It means that she can go in heat longer than 12 days giving her an extended chance of getting pregnant.

How Frequently Does a Cat Have Heat Cycles? 

how long do cats stay in heat

Female felines are often called ‘seasonally polyestrous’ because they can have multiple cycles in a year.

For each cycle, they tend to ovulate and get pregnant when they mate.

Several factors may influence the frequency of your pet's reproductive cycle.

Exposure to light, for example, plays a vital role in the reproductive stimulation in female felines.

Temperature can also affect the frequency of feline heat cycle.

Warmer environments can activate some hormones that trigger the feline to go into heat.

Moreover, the presence of male cats in her environment can also heighten her sexual drive.

As a result, this increases the chances of more heat cycle episodes to occur.

How to Get A Cat Out of Heat

how to get a cat out of heat

Multiple episodes of heat cycles can be bothersome, both to the pet and to the owner. 

If you have no intention of subjecting your female kitty to breed, having her spayed is the best way to go.

Spaying is a surgical procedure for removing a pet's ovaries. When a feline ovulates, an egg is produced in the ovaries and waits for fertilization.

If the ovaries are removed, a female cat can no longer produce eggs. 

In some spay procedures, the uterus is also removed along with the ovaries to make sure that there is zero chance of pregnancy.

Generally, domestic felines reach sexual maturity by 5 or 6 months of age. This stage is the best time to spay your furry pet.

Some veterinarians also recommend pediatric feline spay which is usually done at 6 to 8 weeks of age.

During the surgery, pets are fully anesthetized so they won’t feel any pain. Young or old kitties alike, they can safely undergo this procedure without implications.

The only thing that can prohibit them from spay procedure is when they have medical conditions that make it impossible to perform operations.

Having your pet spayed doesn’t only prevent your kitty from getting into heat and getting pregnant. There are other benefits of spaying other than this.

Why You Need to Spay Your Cats

how long do cats stay in heat

In general, domestic cats can hit puberty at around five months of age.  However, certain breeds can sexually mature earlier than four months.

Also, frequent mood swings and irregular pattern of behaviors can take a toll on its mental and physical wellbeing.

If your feline goes into heat more often than necessary, it can lead to a stressful and unstable life.

She can develop behavioral issues, lose weight, and may exhibit aggressiveness.

Having her spayed doesn't only contribute to reducing feline overpopulation, but it also provides health benefits for your kitty.

Medical studies show that spaying a cat before her first heat cycle significantly reduces the risk of breast cancer.

Mammary cancers are more common in felines than other species.

However, the condition becomes less aggressive when there is no reproductive activity.

Spaying also eliminates the possibility of ovarian and uterine cancers in your kitty.

How to Ease the Symptoms of a Cat in Heat

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During the estrus phase, their aggressiveness and alarming vocalizations may become too much to handle.

Please do your part as a supportive and responsible owner by finding ways to calm them down during this stage.

Here are some ways to help your queen undergo the symptoms of the menstrual cycle with ease:

Determine whether your cat is in heat

Study about feline reproductive cycle and understand what to expect in each stage.  

Make it a habit to regularly check her physical condition to discern what is normal and what is not.

A swollen genital is the earliest sign of heat cycle, so you need to watch out for it.

If your kitty shows increased appetite and restlessness along with the sudden physical changes, you should expect that she's going into heat.

Check for the existence of other medical conditions

Excessive affection towards their owners is one of the most convincing symptoms of estrus. 

An illness or mental stress can possibly cause her alarming behavior.

If you’re not sure about your pet’s condition, bring her to the vet right away to find out what’s causing her pain.

Keep her away from male cats

A feline's behavior can be a little tricky when she's in heat. At the first stage of the heat cycle, she tends to show disinterest in male cats.

However, don't let her cold behavior fool you.

Catnip can do the trick.

A sexually driven feline can turn into a scary rebel, but even she can't resist the calming power of catnip.

Try giving catnip to your rebellious kitty to help her calm down. Catnip can buy an hour of peace but remember that the effect is only temporary.

Play with your queen. 

how long do cats stay in heat

In any stressful situation, distraction is always the most effective solution.

Play with your kitty for the sake of distracting her from her urges. Physical activity is a smart way to divert their energy and focus.

You’ll see that they will howl less after a rigorous exercise. Try petting her and brush her lower back to help her cool down.

Conclusion

If you have unsprayed cats, expect them to undergo multiple series of heat cycles. Therefore, it is essential to learn how long do cats stay in heat.

This is to make sure that your pet has a normal reproductive cycle and to prevent accidental pregnancy. 

Heat cycle has four stages, but the final stage is virtually a non-heat stage wherein the feline finally goes out of the heat.

So, if we include the first and third stage, the entire heat cycle can last up to 4 weeks.

References:

mypetneedsthat

thesprucepets

wikihow

petmd