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 to know when your kitty is going in heat and how long do cats stay in heat?

Owning a cat is a great responsibility, and you need to be prepared if you're planning to own one. 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. What are the signs to determine that they are in heat? How long do cats stay in heat and how often do they go in heat?

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

During the heat cycle, the queen may exhibit unexpected behaviors that are often too annoying for some pet owners. This period is feline's version of a human's menstrual period.

There are several ways to help calm your kitty during this certain period. If you plan to breed from your pedigree kitty, these methods can help ease the symptoms as you facilitate her reproduction.

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

It is crucial to learn how to get a cat out of heat to prevent accidental pregnancy from happening.

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

Not to mention, putting your queen’s life to risk in pregnancy and giving birth.

There are lots of things to consider in deciding on whether to allow them to reproduce or not. However, regardless of your decision, you are required to understand a feline's reproductive cycle.

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

Also, we’ve included the ways on how to calm a queen during this point and how to get a cat out of heat permanently.

When Do Cats Go Into Heat?

Animals are just like us; they also undergo different stages in life as they grow up and age. 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 until they're one year old.

One of the most complicated things about feline hormone cycle is the irregular period in which it occurs. They can go into heat at any time especially if they are sexually stimulated for some reasons.

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

So, how long do cats stay in heat? Moreover, how can we distinguish if our feline pet is going into heat?

Feline reproductive cycle has several stages, and they are subject to undergo these stages once they start getting into heat.

The best way to determine if they’re getting into heat is to look for the 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. However, the most frustrating symptoms are yet to come.

At the peak of the heat cycle, they'll incessantly howl and scream to get the attention of male cats. Moreover, worse, they usually do their loud howling at night when you're supposed to sleep peacefully.

If you don’t want your queen to get pregnant, it’s best to keep her indoors at all times.

Tomcats would surely flock around your house when they hear your queen howling. So, make sure that your queen is unable to escape. Moreover, also see to it that the suitors don't have any way in.

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

how to get a cat out of heat

How long do cats stay in heat? A female feline will start a reproductive cycle once she reaches sexual maturity. From that point, 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.

She may behave a bit restless and exhibit increased appetite. Male cats tend to show interest in her, but she will not be interested in them. 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 queen is at the peak of her menstrual cycle. This is the stage where the queen is actually on the heat.

During estrus, sexual reproduction occurs, and this stage usually lasts about 5 to 10 days.

If you wish your pedigree cat to conceive, this is the right time to introduce her to a tomcat. However, if you want to avoid pregnancy, keep your queen indoors during this crucial stage.

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 will follow you around, rubbing up against your legs and demand attention.

It is advisable to give in to their demands by giving them a head brush or by simply stroking their fur. Be careful though; they might grab or bite your hand if you try to stop petting them.

Strikes an alluring pose. 

how to get a cat out of heat

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, and this is probably the most annoying of all symptoms.

At the peak of their reproductive cycle, they give off distinctive cries that sound as if they’re in pain. Their incessant howls and meows are their way of inviting nearby tomcats.

Not only is their loud howl infuriating to the ears but it will also bring every neighboring male cat to your doorstep.

Stage 3: Interestrus or Diestrus

how long do cats stay in heat

After the estrus phase, the queen'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 queen 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 about 3 to 5 weeks.

At this point, she may appear pregnant and does not show any sign of reproductive activity. She is no longer receptive to the male for several weeks as she enters the anoestrus stage.

In case the mating was successful, the queen 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 Queen Stay in Heat?

how to get a cat out of heat

So, how long do cats stay in heat? If we add up the duration of each stage in the feline reproductive cycle, we can assume that a queen 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 the period when the queen is no longer in heat.

Also take note that if the queen 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.

We recommend keeping your queen indoors for five weeks from the start of her proestrus cycle unless you intend your queen to breed.

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 queen 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.

It would help if you watched out during summer months because this period is when most female felines go into heat.

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. However, the great news is, you can prevent your furry friend from undergoing the difficult phases of the reproductive cycle.

There’s a way on how to get a cat out of heat permanently. If you have no intention of subjecting your female kitty to breed, having her spayed is the best way to go.

So, what is spaying and how does it prevent a queen from getting into heat?

Spaying is a surgical procedure for removing a pet's ovaries. When a queen 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 other words, she can no longer ovulate and conceive.

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

However, what age should you spay your female kitty?

Generally, domestic felines reach sexual maturity by 5 to 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.

How about older cats? A cat can be spayed at any age, and you don't have to worry about the procedure because it is entirely safe.

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.

Moreover, of course, veterinarians won't perform spay surgery to pregnant cats.

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 around five months of age.  However, certain breeds can sexually mature earlier than four months.

Imagine having your unsprayed 4-month old kitty getting pregnant so early. Yes, that doesn’t sound safe at all considering that her young body is not yet fully-developed.

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

If your queen 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.

Furthermore, she is also at higher risk of danger because she may try to escape to search for a mate.

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.

Plus, it negates the possibility of complications that can occur with pregnancy, labor, and birthing.

Not to mention, you'll get a more peaceful night without the loud howls and meows at night.

How to Ease the Symptoms of a Cat in Heat

how to get a cat out of heat

If your unsprayed kitty goes into heat, there's nothing you can do about it. Moreover, you have to bear with it no matter how annoying it is.

Then you may consider about spaying your kitty once she goes out of the heat.

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

However, no matter how frustrating it is, you should never yell at them or punish them. They do these things not because they want to but because nature compels them to.

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.  Be aware of the symptoms to help you distinguish that your queen is starting to go into heat.

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 after two days.

More importantly, you need to understand how long do cats stay in the heat to have a guideline of what is normal.

Check for the existence of other medical conditions.

Excessive affection towards their owners is one of the most convincing symptoms of estrus. So, if she's screaming nonstop and acting restless without showing affection towards you, she may be in distress.

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 queen'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.

As long as you notice the early signs of oproesterus, isolate her from male cats by keeping her indoors.

She will desperately try to escape especially if she senses a potential mate waiting for her outside.

Lock the doors, close all windows, and make sure all pet flaps are latched. In other words, eliminate all possibilities of an escape route for your queen and entry route for male cats.

Catnip can do the trick.

A sexually driven queen 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.

After the effect wears off, expect your queen to become Catzilla again.

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.

Additionally, petting her would satisfy her craving for attention.

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. Unless you intentionally want your pedigree queen to breed.

How long do cats stay in heat? Heat cycle has four stages, but the final stage is virtually a non-heat stage wherein the queen 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.

However, a queen exhibits most of her alarming behaviors during the estrus stage. More importantly, this phase is where the actual heat takes place.

As far as staying in heat is concerned, it usually takes ten days for a cat to stay in heat. After which, the queen starts to lose interest in mating.

How to get a cat out of heat? In case you want to save yourself and your pet from all the troubles of feline pregnancy, spaying is the ultimate answer.

This surgical procedure permanently eliminates the occurrence of heat cycles. So, you don't have to worry about your pet getting pregnant or escaping home to search for a mate.

However, if getting into heat is inevitable, there are ways to calm your queen and help her through the heat cycle.

References:

mypetneedsthat

thesprucepets

wikihow

petmd

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