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Is Your Cat in Heat: 9 Obvious Signs of Heat in Cats

by Vetic Editorial
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Is your cat “shouting” all the time? Does your cat have less to no appetite? Is your kitty not sleeping and trying to go outside? – These are all signs of a cat in heat.

Now, what does “in heat” mean? Does a female cat in heat show these signs? Do only male cats vocalise and spray on walls?

Today, we are going to learn more about the behaviours of cats in heat and everything cat parents should know about their cat’s health and wellness during this period. 

What does “cat in heat” mean?

You may have heard people or veterinarians say “My cat is in heat” or “Your cat is in heat.” “In heat” simply refers to the time when a cat is ready to mate. 

Just like humans, cats go through cycles of fertility. You can think of the cycle of heat in cats as a menstrual cycle in women. However, in the case of cats, veterinary doctors refer to it as the “estrous cycle.”

At what age can your cat go in heat?

According to veterinarians and our observations, any kitten between the ages of 4 to 12 months can go in heat. The first heat cycle of your cat will depends on their –

  • Breed
  • Overall health 
  • Environment and season

However, kittens as young as 4 months old can go heat and become mothers by the time they are 6 months old.

How long will your cat remain in heat?

This is one question several cat parents ask us! There is no “one size fits all” answer to this question since a cat can remain in heat for around a week. 

However, once your cat is out of heat, there’s a good chance they will go back in heat again within 2 to 3 weeks. 

If your cat is going on heat repeatedly or vocalising frequently, you need to visit a pet clinic near you. The Vetic pet clinic has in-house diagnosis and radiology laboratories that can confirm whether your cat is in heat or if they have a UTI.

How many times will my cat go in heat?

Intact female cats will go into heat every 14 to 21 days. Cats are “polyestrous” (poly-many, estrous-fertility cycle), they can go on heat multiple times during their breeding season. When unsure, always visit a cat doctor near you ASAP!

The breeding season of most cats is between spring and autumn. The warmth and longer days trigger the mating season of cats. So, it’s easy to understand why unspayed cats in a tropical country like India seem to be in heat at all times. 

Spay your cat to avoid further complications and diseases of the reproductive tract. Speak to a cat veterinary expert or visit the Vetic veterinary clinic near you to meet with a cat specialist doctor.

Is my cat in heat: Signs your cat is in heat

Almost all cats in heat show telltale signs. If you think your cat is in heat try to note if they are showing the following signs of heat in cats. 

1. Your cat is more vocal (louder)

Photo of a grey short hair cat yelling into a yellow hand-held speaker. A cat in heat will often vocalise loudly and frequently. An image by Vetic - veterinary services

This sign is common for both male and female cats. Cats in heat vocalise a lot. It may sound like yowling or they may simply mew loudly and more frequently. 

It is a mating call, although your cat may sound distressed. If your cat is anyway very communicative, you may need to keep your eyes on other signs of heat in your cat. 

2. Your cat is spraying

Although spraying is common in male cats, some female cats can spray as well to mark their territory. Unspayed cats will spray despite using their litter box

Spraying during heat serves the dual purpose of marking a cat’s territory and leaving a “message” for a potential mate. 

3. Your cat is restless

Your cat may sleep less, pace more and visit the windows where other cats frequent. 

They may not remain relaxed and comfortable for a long time. It is a sign of heat if your cat is also vocalising.

4. Your cat is not eating enough

When your cat is in heat their last concern is food. They may not eat as much as usual or even throw up once in a while after eating. 

Cats in heat eat less and that can cause gastric issues. If your cat hasn’t had food or water in over 12 hours, you need to take them to a veterinarian.

5. Cat is demanding extra affection

A ginger cat sitting on a woman's lap who's wearing a pair of blue jeans and ochre sweater. the photo is taken from the top so only the top of the woman's head is visible. she has black hair with a right part. She is holding the cat's face with both hands and the cat is enjoying this display of affection. A cat in heat will often demand and enjoy extra attention like this. An image by Vetic

This is especially true for female cats. Cats in heat may rub their head and cheeks on your legs and wrap their tail around your ankles. 

Even an indifferent or aloof indoor cat may look for a lap or cuddle. When you combine their demand for extra affection with the mating calls, it is a definitive sign of heat in your cat.  

6. Your cat is doing a low-crawl

Your cat can low-crawl around the corners of your house. They may also moan at the same time while rubbing their cheeks on the walls and furniture. 

While it seems like your cat is in pain, it is the typical behaviour of any cat in estrus. They are leaving their scent around the house in the hopes of attracting a mate. 

7. They are grooming excessively 

Any cat in heat will groom themselves more than usual. Some female cats focus on grooming their belly and genitalia. 

During estrus, a female cat’s genitalia may become swollen and self-grooming in cats provides them some comfort. 

8. Your indoor cat wants to go outdoors

Patched print cat with white muzzle, chest and paws roaming freely outdoors. Neutering cats can prevent unwanted roaming. Image by Vetic.

It is very risky for indoor cats to venture outdoors, but a heart wants what a heart wants! So, your cat may look for every chance to go outdoors to find a suitable mate. 

If you have an indoor-outdoor cat and you do not want her to get pregnant, you may consider keeping her indoors until her oestrus is over. 

9. Your cat is lifting their buttocks

This sign is mostly visible in female cats. Your cat in heat will hold the lower part of her body (buttocks) higher up while lowering her neck. 

She may move her tail to one side while displaying her genitalia. This mating posture is a classic display that your cat is ready to mate. 

What should I do when my cat is in heat?

What you should do depends on what you want. Do you want your cat to have kittens? Are you ready to keep between 2 and 6 kittens at home? Or, do you have the necessary setups for fostering and adoption?

If you do not want kittens and you do not want your cat to go into heat multiple times a year, you can consider spaying (neutering) surgeries.

Talk to a veterinarian near you for neutering your cat(s).  

If you notice unusual discharge from your cat’s vagina or penis, visit the Vetic emergency pet clinic immediately.

How can I comfort my cat in heat?

1. Create a Calm Environment for Your Cat in Heat

Offer a quiet space with a cozy bed or blanket to your cat in heat. Avoid loud noises and distractions.

2. Minimize Stimulation

Dim the lights, close curtains, and avoid sudden movements or loud noises.

3. Offer Hiding Spots for Your Cat

Provide cardboard boxes or covered beds where your cat can retreat for security.

4. Provide Vertical Spaces

Use cat trees, shelves, or perches to give your cat places to climb and explore.

5. Provide a Scratching Post

A sturdy scratching post can help your cat release energy and mark territory.

6. Use Pheromone Sprays If Possible

These sprays mimic natural calming pheromones and can help reduce stress.

7. Avoid Excessive Physical Contact

Respect your cat’s boundaries and avoid too much petting or handling.

8. Use a Heated Pad

A heated pad or cozy bed with warmth can soothe your cat’s muscles and discomfort.

9. Distract Your Cat in Heat with Toys

Engage your cat with interactive toys like wands, puzzle toys, or laser pens.

10.Play Soothing Music

Soft classical music or nature sounds can create a calming atmosphere for your cat in heat.

11. Ensure Fresh Water and Food

Keep fresh water available and provide a balanced diet.

12. Keep the Litter Box Clean

Scoop daily and change the litter regularly to maintain cleanliness.

13. Schedule Playtime

Regular play sessions help release energy and reduce anxiety.

When your cat is in heat, she may become more vocal and exhibit unusual behaviors. Be patient and offer comfort through mental stimulation, catnip, extra treats, and attention. If you’re unsure how to help, consult your veterinarian for advice. Consider spaying your cat if you do not intend to breed her.

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