Cats breed prolifically and are able to breed throughout their lifespan, though with lesser frequency in later life. Female cats become sexually mature anywhere between six to nine months. Female cats do not go through menopause. Male cats take a bit longer to mature but both male and female cats are ready to mate before they are a year old.
When do cats go into heat and for how long?
Female cats are polyestrous. That means they will come into heat repeatedly, several times in a year. Female cats attain sexual maturity anywhere between 6 to 9 months, while male cats a little later.
In biological terms a cat is said to be in the ‘estrous cycle’ when in heat. The estrous cycle is a period when a female cat most receptive to male, and can last from 4 to 6 days if the cat mates, or could extend for another three days if it does not get a chance to mate. The estrous cycle will recur every two weeks. Cats can become pregnant at any time during the year, but are season sensitive. They become sexually active in particular seasons. In Europe domestic cats come into season normally around the beginning and in the middle of the calendar year. In America they will come into season in early spring and in late autumn.
Do cats bleed when in heat?
Female cats do not bleed when in heat because they do not shed the internal lining of the uterus. There may be some discharge of vaginal secretion, but not bleeding. If your cat is bleeding it could be because of an infection, for example pyrometra, which is a deadly infection of the uterus and should be treated by a veterinarian at the earliest. The bleeding can also occur due to rectal cancer, parasites and due to poisoning. Cats sometimes also bleed through the nose, but it may generally be due to trauma.
What signs does a cat show when in heat and how does it behave?
A female cat in heat will become very affectionate, constantly seeking attention, rubbing her body against your feet when you are sitting or against the furniture. She will tend to pace continuously and roll on the floor very often. When you pet or stroke the cat, she may instinctively go into the mating position, crouching low with raised hind quarters. Cats in heat will yowl frequently in a bid to attract mates. They will spray vaginal secretions to mark their territory, and to send a signal to male cats that they are in heat. They will lick their genitals, which will generally be swollen. Cats, when in heat will make continuous attempts to get out from the house. If confined they may scratch window panes and curtains and will try to escape from the house at the first opportunity that presents itself.
How to calm a cat in heat?
A cat in heat needs a lot of love, attention and activity to get rid of the emotional excitement that she is in. Physical contact, petting and stroking will reassure the cat. Try and give the cat new playthings. An old pillow that you do not mind getting shredded may divert her attention from the desire to mate. Keep doors and windows secure to keep your cat confined to the house and the male cats away. Consult the veterinarian for medical help. He can administer inhibitive hormonal injections and other medicines to calm the cat down and ease the symptoms.
Can you spay a cat in heat?
‘Spay’ or ovariohysterectomy, is a regular operation, means neutering of the female cat. The process involves surgical removal of the cat’s uterus and ovaries and is to be performed only by licensed veterinarians. Spaying is best done before your cat attains maturity, which is when the cat is about four or five months old. Cats spayed after coming into heat are likely to instinctively exhibit symptoms like spraying as though they are in heat. Spaying reduces the influences sex hormones on the cat’s behavior and prevents the feline from going into heat.
A cat in heat can be spayed but veterinarians will generally advise against it. The additional blood circulation when a cat is in heat can lead to excessive bleeding during the invasive abdomen surgery, endangering the life of the cat. The veterinarian will advise you on the care that the cat requires after spaying. A cat will usually recover from a spaying surgery within two weeks.
Do male cats go into heat?
Male cats do not go into heat. They are aroused when they smell the vaginal and urinal secretions that a female cat sprays when she is in heat. Once aroused they will actively seek the female. Male cats will fight over a female and the winner gets the chance to mate. As is the case with female cats, male cats spayed later also will demonstrate aggressive behavior like scent marking instinctively.