How Long Does a Cat Stay In Heat?Updated: June 09, 2022
How long does a cat stay in heat? To begin with, cats go into their first heat cycle when they reach puberty. Also known as the estrous cycle, the heat cycle of a cat usually happens when they are about six months of age, but this can also vary depending on their health, weight, time of year, and many other factors.
Cats are considered to be seasonally polyestrous. This means that your furbaby can have numerous cycles during their breeding season. A cat’s breeding season also includes a number of factors, including environmental and geographical circumstances, number of daylight hours, and temperature. This is why cats located in tropical areas or who stay most of their time indoors may go through their heat cycles all throughout the year.
"Many pet parents wonder, "do cats bleed when in heat?" Contrary to what happens in dogs where vaginal bleeding is a sign to know that they are in heat, it is very different for cats."
In this article, we will provide some insight into the following:
- The stages of heat cycles in cats
- How long does a cat stay in heat?
- Signs of a cat in heat
- A common myth about cat heat cycles
These will help you go through how to keep your cat healthy and happy through their heat.
The Stages of the Cat Heat Cycle
How long are cats in heat? To answer the question, how long do cats stay in heat, we must first look at the stages of the cat heat cycle. The heat cycle of cats is composed of four stages.
Stage 1: Proestrus. During the proestrus stage of the cat heat cycle, the female cat (queen) may begin attracting male cats (toms) but will not be receptive to their presence yet. This stage usually lasts a day or two. Queens in the proestrus stage of the cat heat cycle do not show any visible signs of being in heat yet.
Stage 2: Estrus (heat). After the proestrus stage, the queen enters the estrus stage or heat. During this stage of the cat heat cycle, she will continue to attract toms and will become responsive to mating. You will notice your female cat’s unusual vocalizations and behaviors during estrus. She may begin to frequently roll around and elevate her rear end and tail.
If your cat mates during the estrus stage, ovulation may begin. However, note that queens may mate with a couple of toms while she is in heat and fertile in order to become pregnant. And yes, she may give birth to a litter of kittens who are sired by different toms.
Stage 3: Interestus. If a cat does not mate during the estrus period and does not become pregnant, she will continue to the interestus stage. Interestus is often referred to as the period between heats. Estrogen levels which are at peak in the estrus stage will drastically drop. After a span of two days to three weeks, a cat may again go into heat. The proestrus, estrus, and interestrus stages will be on repeat all throughout the breeding season or until the cat becomes pregnant.
Stage 4: Anestrus. The anestrus stage of the cat heat cycle is the dormancy of the reproductive period. Reproductive hormones a low and there is no estrus cycle activity. For cats who spend most of their days outdoors, their heat cycle may occur from spring to fall, where the light of days is longer. Cats who are indoors most of the time may go through their heat cycle at any time since they are mostly exposed to artificial light.
How Long Does a Cat Stay in Heat?
How long do cats stay in heat? In general, a cat in heat stays in heat for several days, ranging from 2-19 days according to Pet MD. The average cat will be in “heat” for seven days. The total duration of the complete heat cycle of a cat ranges from one to six weeks. Again, this depends on the factors stated above, like the extended daylight hours.
Cat in Heat Signs
Do Cats Bleed When in Heat?
Do cats bleed in heat? Many pet parents wonder, "do cats bleed when in heat?" Contrary to what happens in dogs where vaginal bleeding is a sign to know that they are in heat, it is very different for cats. Cats do not bleed when they are in heat. The presence of when your cat is in heat may be a sign of a urinary tract infection or pyometra, a uterine infection that is sometimes life-threatening. Make sure to call your veterinarian as soon as possible.
Cat in Heat Behavior
One of the most noticeable signs of a cat in heat is behavioral changes. A cat in heat will vocalize more frequently, will become more affectionate and sometimes commanding. She will also constantly rub herself against objects and even on you! If you notice these behavioral changes, there is a good chance they ares signs your cat is in heat!
Do Female Cats Spray When in Heat?
Do cats spray when in heat? Yes, another most common sign of a cat in heat is spraying urine even when they are used to peeing inside the litter box. When this happens to your furbaby, it’s best to have them wear Pet Parents® Washable Cat Diapers. These premium cat diapers will help keep your home clean and your furbaby dry when they are in heat. Made with our soft non-abrasive WickQuick® proprietary fabric, Pet Parents® Washable Cat Diapers can help prevent your cat from developing diaper rash and urine burns in the span of her heat cycle. Make sure to introduce the diapers slowly in order to prevent stress on your furbaby. Some cats may be more comfortable in diapers than others, so monitor your cat for comfort when introducing them. Be sure to change the diaper regularly and you can remove the diaper if you notice your cat on the way to her litter box.
Other signs of a cat in heat include the following:
- excessive scratching on their scratching posts or on furniture at home
- placing their hindquarters up in the air while flagging her tail—signaling that your cat is already receptive to male cats (assuming the mating position)
- strong urge to find means and ways to escape
- grooming their private parts more frequently
- loss of appetite
- crawling low to the ground
Once your cat goes into heat, she is actively looking to get pregnant, so you must be careful to avoid accidental breeding. Keep in mind that it is not recommended for your cat to get pregnant on their very first heat yet. Aside from the fact that it is unsafe for her to become pregnant at a very young age, her body may still not be fully matured and the pregnancy may harm her and her kittens.
Cat in Heat Sound
What does a cat in heat sound like? Crying, meowing, and yowling are all often loudly heard sounds from cats in heat. A cat in heat will vocalize frequently compared to when they are not. Cat in heat sound is aimed to let other cats know that they are in heat. This is also their natural response to the many changes that are happening in their body. These sounds are oftentimes annoying, loud, and attention-getting. But, keep in mind a cat in-heat sound will pass once your female cat has finished her heat cycle. Although it may be a little bit frustrating, it is best to ignore the cat in heat sound, rather than yelling at your cat or getting frustrated. She is not feeling her best.
"Pet Parents® Washable Cat Diapers can help keep in both pee and poop, and additionally, it also helps prevent your cat from developing diaper rash and urine burns in the span of her heat cycle."
A Common Myth About Cat Heat Cycles
As stated by VCA Animal Hospitals, the common myth that your cat will turn out to be friendlier and more sociable when they have kittens is not true. If breeding is not planned well or is just accidental, then it will only contribute further to the worsening problem of pet overpopulation. If you opt not to have your cat get pregnant, then having them spayed is the best way to go. You can earn more about the benefits of spaying here.
So whether your furbaby is making weird sounds, acting funny, being more affectionate, rubbing up against you or on any object in your home, or taking extra special care of her lady parts, if she exhibits one or more of the signs mentioned, they are probably in heat! Now that you know the answer to the question, how long are cats in heat, and the signs to look out for, you will be able to recognize your cat's heat cycle and take care of her during her special time.
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