Cart --
0
Your Shopping Cart is Empty

Cats in Heat - How This Phase Plays a Role in Cat Mating

A Female Cats' Reproductive Heat Cycle

By June 03, 2013 | See Comments

  • expert or vet photo
    vet verified

    PetCareRx Staff Veterinarian


Cats in Heat - How This Phase Plays a Role in Cat Mating

When a female goes into heat, it means changes in behavior, some of them probably unwanted. Find out how to tell if your cat is in heat and what to expect.

The heat cycle -- also known as the feline estrus cycle or female reproductive cycle -- is a period of hormonal fluctuations in a female cat’s fertility and sexual behavior. Throughout the feline breeding season, female cats go back and forth between being in heat (fertile/ready for mating) and not in heat (unlikely to get pregnant/not ready for mating). As a cat owner, it is important to recognize the signs and symptoms of cats in heat in order to avoid unwanted pregnancies, or in the case of breeders, to plan for a new litter of kittens.

When Do Cats Go Into Heat?

Female cats can go into heat as early as five months or as late as 18 months. The age at which your cat first goes into heat can depend on the breed. For example, Siamese cats go into heat earlier than longhaired breeds such as Persians.

Your cat’s breeding season will depend on a number of factors, including daylight hours, environmental conditions, and the presence of other cats. A female cat’s hormonal system is activated when there are 12 hours of daylight or more, so in the northern hemisphere the breeding season is from Spring to Fall, while in the southern hemisphere the breeding season is from Fall to Spring. During the breeding season, a cat will continue to cycle between in heat and not in heat unless she mates.

Symptoms of Heat

Cats in heat exhibit a number of distinct symptoms. These symptoms are present to alert male cats that the cat is ready for mating.

  • Meowing or crying. The vocalization of a cat in heat is unique -- the cat often sounds to be moaning or in pain.
  • Frequent urination and/or marking.
  • Assuming a crouched, receptive posture (known as standing estrous).
  • Treading with the back legs (this appears as “walking in place”).
  • Moving the tail to one side to expose genitalia.
  • Clear vulval discharge.
  • Restlessness/pacing around the house or yard.
  • Interest in leaving the house/attempts to leave the house in an effort to get outside and find male cats.
  • Head and face rubbing on objects or people.
  • Rolling or writhing on belly or back.
  • Excessive affection and physical contact with owner and/or other pets.
  • Unusual aggression toward owner.

How to Avoid Heat Cycles

The heat cycle is a normal part of every female cat’s life and cannot be avoided without medical intervention. Spaying your cat is the most widespread practice for stopping a cat from having heat cycles, as no ovaries means no fertility. A cat’s heat cycle can also be stopped with certain forms of birth control, such as hormone injections from your veterinarian. This option is common among owners of pedigreed cats or those who want to stop the heat cycle only temporarily.

More on Female Cats and Cat Care

What to Feed a Female Cat
Why Cats Meow
Finding the Right Cat Breed for You

This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.


Our youngest cat comes on heat every month. She is generally on heat for AT LEAST A WEEK! A lot of info on the 'net says cats will "be in oestrus for three days or four days"....this is like telling a teenage girl who has just started her period that this will happen to her for "a few days" every month! Also, in my experience, not just with this cat but with other female cats I had in the past before they were spayed, it isn't just un-neutered male cats whom they attempt to get attention from....they will "approach" neutered male cats in the same household and present their little tush...and in fact, even though my male tabby is neutered he appears to have some semblance of an idea what he is supposed to do,as he will get on top of her back, bite her neck and make movements onto her rear end.

The other thing to note is that these two cats are the best of friends normally, they are virtually inseparable, sleeping together, grooming each other and playing for hours together, but not when the little one is on heat. Oh no! during this time, he becomes absolutely fed up with her unwanted attention. He will still happily sleep next to her but as soon as she starts that nasty yowling (which I imagine can be heard for miles!) and follows him about the house, he starts growling and hissing at her and as a last resort lashes out at her and has a huge hissy fit!

As for marking her territory, she doesn't ever "spray" but the first time she was on heat she did a poo near the front door (where you could smell tom-cat urine that a cat must have done on the doorstep outside during the night!) She also definitely does lose her appetite when she is on heat, often she doesn't really eat for a few days, she just licks the gravy and picks at a few chunks, but she does still enjoy her water from the drinks fountain - it is really important to make sure your cat has access to fresh water, especially if they are not eating much,

It can be amusing but really it is serious and we are getting her spayed ASAP! It can be irritating and annoying when your normally quiet little kitty spends several nights per month keeping you awake, but remember it isn't her fault. Often they will sleep literally from dawn to dusk as they are exhausted from pacing up an down the house and yowling all night, but if you can keep them awake through the day, play with them, cuddle them, let them be all affectionate with you, you just might get a couple of hours sleep at night....I said "you might.."!!

comments powered by Disqus

Was this article helpful?

Cats in Heat at a glance

  • 1The heat cycle is a period of hormonal fluctuations in a female cat’s fertility and sexual behavior
  • 2During the cycle, cats go back and forth between being in heat (ready to mate) and not being in heat
  • 3The breeding season for cats depends on factors including daylight hours, environment, and other cats
  • 4The heat cycle can be avoided by having your cat spayed or with forms of birth control like hormone injections
EV SSL Certificate

Want a treat?

Enter your e-mail to find out how to get
75% OFF your first purchase: