Cats in heat – what you need to know
June 21, 2021
A female cat is described as ‘in heat’ when she is ready to mate. If you’re wondering what to do when your cat is in heat, or want to discuss the best time to neuter your cat, call Clarendon Street Veterinary Surgery on 01223 359021 to book an appointment or ask for advice.
Our vet Patrick recommends neutering your kitten at six months of age to prevent unwanted pregnancies (neutering after this age is possible too). If your cat is allowed outside before this age without being neutered, there’s a good chance that she will mate, and could become pregnant, so we recommend keeping cats in until they are neutered unless your garden is completely secure. If your cat is really keen to get out and about, or is showing any problem behaviours when confined to the house, we can neuter earlier than six months old. If you have both a male and female kitten, contact the surgery nice and early so we can advise you how best to prevent them becoming too friendly with one another!
How often are cats in heat and at what age?
Female cats reach sexual maturity and can breed from about 4 months old. They will then come into heat every year, usually between February and October, and have several cycles, usually two to three weeks apart. Cats do not ovulate until they are mated, so they can remain in heat for just a few days or up to several weeks. Older queens (female cats) can still have cycles, albeit fewer, until they are spayed. Longer days can trigger reproductive activity, leading to many kittens being born in March, April, and May.
A male cat is usually most active from September to March. However, a tom (male cat) that has reached full maturity (typically 6-12 months) can mate with a female cat whenever she allows it.
How can I tell if my cat is in heat?
- The sound of a cat in heat is different from normal meowing. She may yowl, quite long and loud, as if in pain. Male & female cats in the neighbourhood may call out to each other
- Females are flirtatious and extra affectionate – back arching, rubbing & rolling on the floor, raising the hind-quarters and moving the tail from side to side.
- Male cats that are sexually active may seek attention too, but can be pushy and demanding.
- Both males and females may be desperate to get out of the house to find a mate.
- Male cats may start or increase urine spraying and get into more fights.
- It is uncommon for female cats in heat to bleed.
How should I care for a cat in heat?
Your cat may be feeling confused and out of sorts during her season, especially if it is her first one. You can help by trying to keep her happy and distracted. Entertain her with games, treat-filled toys, and activities in the house.
Benefits of neutering
There are plenty of benefits to having your cat neutered. For female cats, their ovaries and uterus are removed. This will prevent pyometra – a serious uterine infection. Spaying also lowers the risk of mammary tumours and reduces the spread of infectious diseases from mother to kittens. In males, castration prevents testicular cancer and lowers the risk of prostate cancer.
There is no need for a female to have a litter of kittens to be content, she may well be happier without the constant cycle of seasons during the summer and the frustration this can cause. Routine neutering also prevents fewer unwanted kittens. There are already plenty of cats out there looking for loving homes. In addition, in can prevent lots of unwanted behaviours, such as roaming, fighting and spraying.