Male & female cats in heat - what you need to know
The term ‘in heat’ means when a cat is ready to mate, which can be a daunting thought for any pet owner. If you’re wondering what to do when your cat is in heat, call Northlands Veterinary Hospital on 01536 485543 to book an appointment with a nurse. Talk to our team about your cat’s cycle and discuss neutering.
Our vet Catherine recommends neutering your kitten at four to five months of age to prevent unwanted pregnancies (neutering after this age is recommended too). If your cat is allowed outside at this age without being neutered, there’s a good chance that he/she will mate, and kittens will be on their way. When it comes to cats in heat, here is everything you need to know.
How often cats are in heat and at what age
Female cats reach sexual maturity and can breed from about 4 months old. They will then come into heat (or season) every year around February to October. Female cats have many short periods roughly 2-3 weeks apart. They do not ovulate until they are mated, so this period of heat cycles can be lengthy. Older queens (female cats) can still have cycles, albeit fewer, until they are spayed. Longer days can trigger reproductive activity, leading to many kittens being born in March, April, and May.
A male cat’s critical heat season is usually September to March. However, a tom (male cat) that has reached full maturity (typically 6-12 months) can mate with a female cat whenever she allows it.
How to tell if your cat is in heat - symptoms & behaviour:
- The sound of a cat in heat is different from normal meowing. It’s extreme vocalising or yowling as if in pain. Male & female cats call out to each other, and this can sound very odd.
- Females are flirtatious and extra affectionate - back arching, rubbing & rolling on the floor.
- Male cats in heat are more attention seeking too but can be pushy and demanding.
- Raised hindquarters, moving the tail from side to side.
- Keen to be out of the house in search of a mate - cats in heat can roam further too.
- Male cats in heat will ramp up their urine spraying activity and get into more fights.
- It is uncommon for female cats in heat to bleed.
How to care for a female cat in heat
Your queen will be feeling out of sorts during her season. She can feel especially confused if it is her first one. You can help by trying to keep her happy and distracted. Entertain her with games, treat-filled toys, and activities in the house.
Benefits of neutering
There are plenty of benefits to having your cat neutered. For female cats, their ovaries and uterus are removed. This will prevent pyometra - a serious uterine infection. Spaying also lowers the risk of mammary tumours and reduces the spread of infectious diseases from mother to kittens. In males, castration prevents testicular cancer and lowers the risk of prostate cancer.
Neutering also provides important population control with fewer unwanted kittens. Plus, it eliminates male cats on the doorstep fighting, spraying urine, and vocalising - which can only be a good thing.