If you have a female cat at home, you’ve likely noticed signs that she may be in heat from time to time. However, many people don’t know the specifics of the cycle involved in these signs. In order to help your cat be as comfortable as possible, it’s important to know how long she will likely be in heat and what to expect.
What Does it Mean When a Cat is in Heat?
If your cat is in heat, that means that she is ready to mate with another cat, meaning she can become pregnant when mating. It’s important to know this because cats tend to mate with any male cat around them while in heat. Take precautions in order to avoid unwanted kittens.
Average Time Cats Are in Heat
On average, you can expect your cat to be in heat for about seven days. However, your cat’s estrous cycle may vary from the average. She may be in heat anywhere from one to 21 days. The time she is in heat is known as the estrus part of her cycle.
If your cat doesn’t mate during the time she’s in heat, she will go out of heat for an average of seven days, though this can also range from one to 19 days. This means that your cat will go into heat around every three weeks from January to late fall, on average. However, the amount of time per year can change based on location and the amount of daylight.
How to Know Your Cat Is in Heat?
Cats are different from other animals in that it’s not always super obvious when they have gone in heat. For the most part, you may only notice behavioral symptoms that will clue you in on what’s going on.
One of the most common signs that your cat is in heat is that she becomes a lot more vocal than she was previously. She may meow, cry, or yowl more often than she normally does. These sounds are used to get the attention of other cats to let them know she’s looking for a mate.
Here are some other signs that your cat may be in heat:
May spray urine
More attention-seeking behavior or wanting more affection
More pushy behavior or may seem more demanding than usual
Rolling around on the floor
Wiggling hind end or raising it higher than normal
Begging to be let outside more often than normal
Rubbing face on many more items than usual
Many of these signs are normal cat behaviors, so only noticing an uptick in their frequency is the way to know whether your cat is in heat.
When Do Cats First Go into Heat?
Most female cats will go into heat for the first time when they reach puberty. The average age a female cat will reach this age and go into her first heat cycle is six months. However, the time of year and the amount of sunlight in their location can make this age older or younger than average.
What to Do for Your Cat When She’s in Heat
The good news is that when your cat is in heat, she likely isn’t experiencing any pain related to her cycle. However, being in heat can be stressful for your cat as well as for you as you deal with the behavioral changes that come along with it. Fortunately, there are some things you can do for your cat to help make things easier for the both of you!
Keep Her Away from Male Cats
When your cat is in heat, it’s important to keep her away from any male cats who aren’t neutered if you want to avoid her getting pregnant. Your cat will be more likely to want to get outside and escape. You’ll need to pay extra close attention to where she is and which other cats she’s around during this time.
If your cat reacts to catnip (and between 70 percent and 80 percent of cats do), giving her some will help temporarily calm her down. However, it’s important to know whether catnip makes your cat calm or more hyperactive so you know if this treatment will help. Catnip will only last for around ten minutes, so it’s not a long-term solution, but it can help you both get a quick break from needy behaviors.
Give Her Somewhere Warm to Sleep
Giving your cat a warm towel or bed, or even a heat pack, for her to lie down on can be relaxing and comforting to your cat while she’s in heat. Giving her somewhere to calm down can help tone down the behaviors that come along with being in heat, giving her some relief from the extra stimulation she has been feeling.
Keep Her Litterbox Clean
Because cats are more likely to spray urine when they are in heat, it’s important to make sure their litterboxes are always clean. Cats are very finicky when it comes to their litterboxes. This is only amplified while your cat is in heat. If your cat is left with a dirty litterbox, she will be much more likely to spray urine somewhere you don’t want her to, including your walls or furniture.
Play with Her
Your cat will likely seem more energetic while she’s in heat. Giving her an outlet for her extra energy is a great way to keep her happy while also giving you ways to keep her from annoying you with her neediness. Getting your cat some toys that she can play with while you’re not home is another great option for her to focus her energy somewhere other than trying to mate!
The Permanent Option – Spaying
Truthfully, the best way to relieve your cat of her heat symptoms is to have her spayed before she hits puberty or as soon as she does. Choosing to have your female cat spayed will help you make sure that your cat doesn’t accidentally fall pregnant. Although you can take many precautions to keep this from happening, accidents happen, and you can still end up with a litter of kittens on your hands.
Not only will having your cat spayed keep her from getting pregnant, but it’s also connected to living a longer life! When you have your female cat spayed, it lowers her risk of uterine infections and breast tumors, both of which can lead to consequences that could shorten her lifespan.
Kittens can be spayed around eight weeks old. It’s recommended to do it before she reaches five months old, to keep your chances of pregnancy or urine spraying at a minimum. However, if she’s older than that, it’s still okay to get her spayed!
Female cats can go into heat every three weeks on average, leaving you with around seven days’ worth of behavioral changes and preventions that you will need to take to avoid unwanted kittens. There are steps you can take to make your cat more comfortable while she’s in heat, as well as to help your patience with her.
However, the best option for handling a cat in heat is to get her spayed. This is the most effective way to eliminate the risk of pregnancy as well as behavioral changes like urine spraying or excessive neediness!