What is the Heat Cycle for a Cat?
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What is the Heat Cycle for a Cat?

How often do cats go into heat? How long are cats in heat for? What is the normal heat cycle of a cat? How do I care for my cat while she is in heat, she looks like she is in pain and is very annoying. How to bring a cat out of heat. Is it okay to let my cat outside if she is in heat? Why is my cat acting funny?

If you own an unspayed female cat, you need to be aware of her heat cycle. The heat cycle is also referred to as the estrus, or estrous, cycle. For most cats this cycle starts around six months of age, but can begin at the age of four months, or not until a year. Siamese cats are one of the cat breeds that tend to go into heat at a young age, while many Persians do not have their first heat cycle until one year of age.

You should note that a female cat can be bred on her very first heat cycle, allowing her to do so, can stunt her growth and even put her life in jeopardy.

Understanding the heat cycle in cats is not so simple because every cat is different, and they are not as regular as dogs. Cats are usually seasonal breeders, cycling more through the spring to fall, but not necessarily.

The heat cycle of a cat consists of 4 basic phases:

Proestrus – 1 to 2 days before she goes into true “heat”, she will attract male (tom) cats, but will not accept them for breeding.

Estrus – 4 to14 days, this is the phase often known as “heat” in which the female cat exhibits behavioral changes, often rubbing on things, meowing, holding her rump in the air, licking herself more, frequent urination, and loss of appetite. Some cats bleed at this time, but this is not as common as in dogs. Some become more affectionate to their owners, others may become upset.  This is the time when a female cat could become pregnant.

Metestrus – 1 to 3 weeks between returning to proestrus and beginning the cycle over again, unless bred during estrus.

Anestrus – 2 to 3 months of no cycle, as through the winter.

© by author - spayed female cat

How to Care for a Cat in Heat

While the cat is in her estrus phase she often looks uncomfortable, even as though she is in pain. Some people find their cat annoying when she is in heat and let her outside, but this may be one of the worst things to do. Young cats can have complication, as mentioned these could even be life threatening, but more importantly there is already an over abundance of cats so adding to the problem would not be responsible.

Your cat is best off if kept indoors during her heat cycle, and really should be kept indoors only until she is spayed since some cats show very few signs of being in heat.

If you wish to breed her you need to find a healthy male cat (cats can carry sexually transmitted diseases) of the same breed as your cat. You should only breed your cat if she and the male are registered purebred and you have buyers lined up for kittens. Otherwise there is no need to add to the cat population.

You can bring your cat out of heat by stimulating her vagina with a clean rectal thermometer or q-tip, w which would cause her to ovulate, thus ending the estrus phase however she would still return to heat in another 1- 3 weeks if not spayed in the mean time.  If you do not know what you are doing - do not attempt this.

Note that allowing a cat to breed is irresponsible, in the USA alone over 3 million more cats are born than there are homes for.

A female cat who is not spayed is called a queen.

Spayed cats do not have heat cycles.

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