Here we discuss how long cats stay in heat and the different stages of the heat cycle.
The Length of Heat Cycle in Cats
- Lasts about 7 to 14 days if the cat isn’t bred
- Varies according to cat species
What Does a Cat in Heat Mean?
Female cats, just like a human female, have reproductive organs that upon advancing in age becomes fertile and mature enough to be ready for breeding. It’s scientifically known as a feline estrous cycle.
In this time, the female cat is subjected to a lot of hormonal changes that have a significant influence on the cat’s behavior.
The feline estrous cycle usually starts when an unspayed female cat reaches the age of 6 months up to one and a half years old, which is the case of Persian cats.
When an unspayed cat is in the heat, it’s called a queen, and some cats can get in the heat cycle earlier than 6 months or much after a year.
This depends on many factors such as their breed, the weather, the abundance of light, and the cat’s health state.
Although a cat can bear kittens starting off its first cycle, it’s not preferred to start as early as it gets. A six months old cat isn’t biologically mature enough for a safe pregnancy.
Despite being an induced ovulatory animal, which means that a female cat only produces an egg upon mating while in heat, she’ll still go through the hormonal disturbance caused by this cycle and manifest some unique behaviors.
The cycle starts along with blood vessel dilatation, which causes an overflow of blood through the ovaries and the uterus raising their internal temperature, hence the name. This gives an instinctual sign to the female cat that it’s time to breed.
When Does a Cat Go Through Feline Heat Cycles?
Cats are known to be polyestrous, which means that just upon reaching the age of the heat cycles, a female cat will start to go through the feline estrous cycles many times throughout the year.
Although spring season is considered to be your cat’s preferred mating season, females can get pregnant and produce a litter at any time of the year as long as she mates while in heat.
Note that cats tend not to get in heat during the winter months, leaving northern hemisphere cats ready for mating starting from February all the way to mid-September.
How Long Do Cats Stay In Heat?
Typically, an unspayed female cat is going to go through an estrous heat cycle anywhere between 7 and 14 days where it’ll be waiting to mate.
If the female doesn’t mate throughout this period, it’ll get off the heat cycle only to be back at it again after another week to 22 days later, depending on her breed.
What Are the Stages of Feline Estrous Cycle?
Most domestic cats go through four major periods if not bred during their estrous cycle. These stages are the anestrous stage, proestrus stage, estrus (heat) stage, and metestrus stage. We’ll be explaining each one of them.
This is the first stage of the female reproductive cycle. In this stage, the queen’s reproductive organs are almost completely inactive. Female cats don’t get into the heat cycle at that time and they almost completely lack any sexual activity.
This stage happens from the start of October all the way to mid-January or February, where most cats get off their cycle due to lack of heat, low amount of light, and shorter daytime.
Be aware that regarding indoor cats, due to exposure to artificial lighting and lengthening the daytime for queens they might get confused and start their cycle during the anestrous months.
This stage can be defined as the stage where cats start to set foot into their heat cycle but aren’t completely ready to mate. Usually, this stage lasts for about a day and up to four days before the heat cycle directly.
In this stage, the female cats start to show restlessness, raised appetite, and display their attraction to males without mating.
Also known as the heat stage, this is the fertile period that cycles directly after the proestrus phase and lasts for an average of 9 days. In this stage, the queen exhibits more signs of demanding attention and seeking males to mate.
It’s at this phase that most of the annoying but distinct female cat behaviors show up.
This phase marks the end of the estrus phase. It’s where queens become hormonally balanced again.
At this period, cats stop seeking males’ attention and will refuse to mate. They also stop all the frustrating signs they show while in heat and behave normally again.
What Are the Signs That Your Cat Is Going Through Feline Estrous Cycle?
Although cats don’t show physical changes during their heat cycles, they show very distinct behavioral changes.
Due to their hormonally driven desire to mate, cats become more passionate. They’ll start to show extra affection to you by rolling on the floor and rubbing against you and almost everything else.
They start vocalizing, yowling loudly to draw in males in a sound that resembles being in pain. Females also wiggle their hind limbs and raise their tail.
They’ll also scratch doors and beg you to go outside all the while spraying strong-smelling urine everywhere to spread its pheromones in an attempt to attract males.
Despite the unbearable and bizarre behaviors your cat shows while in heat sometimes, there are some options for you to help your cat deal with the situation.
Naturally, the first option is letting your cat mate and breed. However, this depends on your willingness to have a litter of kittens twice or more a year.
The other option is spaying your cat, which is the go-to solution for many people, especially those who aren’t ready for more cats in the house. The best approach, in that case, would be spaying your cat before its first-ever heat cycle.