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What to do when your cat is in heat? 8 helpful tips

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What to do when your cat is in heat

Few sounds are as unsettling as a yowling cat in heat. 

A cat owner knows how disturbing it is to be awakened by the romantic cries of a cat outside your window. You may wear earplugs or bury your head in your pillow and pray that the neighborhood cats find another location for their loud meetings.

When it’s your cat, you can’t just cross your fingers and hope she moves on. So what to do when your cat is in heat?

What is ‘heat’ in cats, and how long does it last?

Heat refers to a female cat’s fertile period, the stage of her reproductive cycle during which she attempts to conceive. 

Your cat’s first heat will generally occur between 6-9 months of age, though it can occur at four months or as late as 12 months, depending on when they were born. This is because cats usually go into heat only during the months with the longest daylight hours.

Cats are polyestrous seasonally, which means they have many cycles during the breeding season.

Typically, your cat would go into heat every two or three weeks from spring to autumn, but if she lives indoors, she may have irregular heat cycles all year due to the artificial light.

Your female cat’s reproductive cycle is divided into stages, which may be longer or shorter depending on the cat:

  • Proestrus: During this period, which lasts about a day or two, your cat’s behavior begins to change.
  • Heat: This is the most dramatic period of change when your cat will be yearning for a mate. Heat typically lasts between 2 and 6 days, although it can last up to 12 days.
  • Interestrus: The 8-15 day period between two heat cycles in your cat.
  • Anoestrus: This is the resting stage, which usually lasts during three or four coldest months.

Now that you know the basics, let us look at the changes you’ll observe when your cat is in heat and what you are required to do as a pet owner. 

How can you tell if your cat is in heat?

What to do when your cat is in heat? 8 helpful tips

The signs of a cat in heat include the following:

  • Affectionate: She is affectionate (even overly so). Cats in heat will rub against you, the furniture, and the wall to spread their scent.
  • Noisy: She meows a lot, both during the day and at night. When you have a cat in heat, the most frequently asked question is what to do to stop it.
  • Seeks attention: She tries to catch your attention by rolling around at your feet.
  • Sensitive: She arches her back, stretches out her front legs, and raises her tail, and assumes a mating position when you touch or stroke her.
  • Loss of appetite: She may lose her appetite as a result of stress.
  • Tries to escape: She wants to escape into the street in search of a mate (don’t let her if you don’t want to expand your feline family!).
  • Spraying: She may spray the house with urine to leave a scent trail for toms.

Purpose of howling

It’s easy to see when your cat is in heat. While it’s challenging to establish that heat cycles aren’t painful, her loud howling makes her appear uneasy. 

A female cat’s howling, on the other hand, serves a purpose: it attracts the attention of a potential mate.

Recognizing that howling is normal behavior for a cat in heat will help to ease your concern that something is wrong with your pet. 

Check out our tips below if you are wondering what to do when your cat is in heat:

Fortunately, there are several steps you can take to reduce the stress (and noise) that comes with your cat’s mating season.

1. Extra brushing and petting throughout the heat cycle

A cat in heat can be challenging to manage and will require additional attention from you. When your feline buddy is in heat, give her extra attention around the house to calm her down and keep her stress levels controlled.

2. Provide a haven for your cat

Cats in heat may prefer to be left alone unless a potential suitor is pursuing them. Don’t take her irritability or aggressive behavior personally. Just make sure she has a comfy, private spot where she can escape the hustle and bustle, such as a cat tree or the top of a closet.

3. Cats in heat may require additional playtime

The need to mate is instinctive in cats. The desire to hunt is also strong. Try to keep your cat entertained by providing her with stimulating toys that trigger her hunting instincts. It can divert her attention away from her other impulses.

4. Protect the perimeter

A cat in heat is a master escape artist. Keep your home secure and seal up any potential escape routes, including windows, doggie doors, and readily opened screen doors.

5. Play relaxing music

Humans aren’t the only ones that enjoy music; many animals do as well. Relax to the sounds of classical, silky jazz, or ambient electronic music in your house. You never know; it could help your cat relax and drown some of the howling.

6. Maintain a clean litter tray

Cats enjoy marking their territory, especially when they are in heat. Keep the litter tray clean and free of cat urine to encourage your cat to use it instead of staining your carpet or sofa. Also, avoid ammonia cleansers because they may encourage your cat to spray.

7. Warmth

Warmth can help to reduce heat-related behavior. A warm, quiet room or laying a blanket or one of those microwavable warm bean bags next to your cat can help. Additionally, you can place a self-warming electric heat pad inside your cat’s bed to provide something to snuggle on.

8. Sprays with cat pheromones

You can reduce stress by using synthetic cat pheromone sprays, diffusers, or collars (which replicate pheromones generated by cats to soothe themselves). 

Conclusion

Cats in heat can be a nightmare to live with for any pet owner. And, while your cat’s behavior is completely normal, don’t look for a “cure.” 

Yes, you can use vet-prescribed synthetic progesterone injections to prevent your cat from going into heat and save both your feline friend and yourself from its symptoms. However, spaying your cat as soon as she reaches sexual maturity is a better and a more lasting solution to prevent unwanted pregnancies. 

Unless you want to breed your cat, you should help her get through these heat cycles, give her toys or cushions to shred when she’s in heat, and play with her frequently. 

Make a nest for her with an excellent heating pad and offer her catnip to soothe her down. 

Stress-relieving herbs formulated specifically for pets and available at your local health food store may serve as a final resort if your cat becomes too hard to handle while in heat.

If you feel your furry friend is ill, contact your vet immediately. Remember to always contact your vet for any health-related inquiries, as they have evaluated your pet in the past, are familiar with the pet’s medical history, and can provide the best suggestions for your pet.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. When do kittens go into heat?

Most kittens will enter into heat by six months of age. However, certain environmental conditions can speed up the process. And certain breeds, such as Siamese, can go into heat as early as four months, but ten months is a more normal age for entering into heat for other breeds.

2. How to tell if my cat is in heat?

When a kitten is in heat, her meow becomes more of a howl, and she becomes more loving with you, other cats, and even the dining room chairs, rubbing against almost anything and purring loudly. In response to the slightest provocation, she will hold her tail straight up and elevate her rear. She may also spray urine and flee to the outside whenever she gets the chance to find a mate.

3. What happens to a cat in heat?

Heat is a natural aspect of your cat’s estrus or reproductive cycle. She is fertile and looking for a mate at this time.

However, in cats, this does not always imply ovulation. Cats are induced ovulators, which means that ovulation occurs only if a female cat has mated; the act of breeding encourages the release of eggs.

4. How long does a cat stay in heat?

During adolescence, your cat will go into heat for about a week due to increased estrogen.

During this time, she may experience a tiny amount of bloody vaginal discharge. This process will be repeated every two to three weeks.

Cats typically reproduce in the spring and summer, giving birth about 65 days after conception.

One week to one month after delivering kittens, a cat may re-enter heat.

A cat’s heat cycle can last anywhere from a few days to two weeks on average.

5. Is heat a sign that my cat will get pregnant?

Yes, pregnancy is possible if your cat mates during her heat, even her first heat.

Separate your female kitten from any male cats in the house to avoid pregnancy (including blood relatives).

Also, secure your doors and windows. This will keep your cat from fleeing to find a mate, preventing not just pregnancy but also the hazards of becoming lost or hurt while outside.

6. Are cats in pain when they are in heat?

It’s difficult for us to understand everything that goes on in a cat’s mind and body, especially when cats hide their discomfort well. However, it’s understandable that there can be some discomfort.

There are also mental and emotional issues to consider. Because a cat in heat has a strong physiological drive to mate, cats may become frustrated with each heat cycle that does not result in mating.

7. Is it necessary for my cat to have a season or a litter of kittens before she is spayed?

No, most cats should be neutered by the age of four months (unless there is a specific reason not to). If you are undecided, see your veterinarian about the best time to spay your cat.

8. Is it possible to prevent heats?

A heat cycle can be stopped with injectable medicines. However, most veterinarians would not recommend them due to the high potential of significant side effects (including pyometra) unless the benefit justifies the hazards.

Additionally, many drugs do not last indefinitely. Cats will go into heat again, necessitating additional injections, increasing the danger of adverse effects and rendering this approach ineffective for regulating heats.

9. What is causing my cat to bleed?

“When do cats get periods?” is a pressing matter to think about because knowing your kitty’s cycle will help you figure out why she’s bleeding. Cats, like humans, begin having an estrus cycle at the age of four to six months, and the period can continue anywhere from seven to ten days. In contrast to humans, who are fertile all year, the best period for cats to enter the estrus cycle is from early spring to late fall.

In addition to your cat’s howling and yelping, this is the time of the cycle when you may observe some minor bleeding, which is usually not a cause for concern. You’ll most likely see blood splatters on the floor or in her blankets. If you know your cat’s cycle and observe anything out of the ordinary, contact your veterinarian immediately to rule out other health issues.

10. What can I do to keep my cat from being pregnant?

The most straightforward approach to keep your cat from becoming pregnant is to have her medically sterilized (through an ovariohysterectomy or spay procedure) before her first estrous cycle. Because it is difficult to anticipate when the first cycle will occur, most veterinarians advocate doing an ovariohysterectomy on a cat when it reaches six months.

11. How do you stop a cat in heat from meowing?

A little additional attention may help some cats cope with the stress of estrus. When your feline buddy is in heat, give her extra attention around the house to calm her down and keep her stress levels reasonable.

If your male cat is not neutered and meows excessively on a regular basis, he may be hearing or smelling a female cat in heat. He is likely to pace and meow incessantly for the duration of the female’s heat. Unless you can entirely prevent him from detecting females in heat, neutering an intact male cat is the best approach to reduce excessive meowing.