An unneutered cat will become sexually mature between 5½ and 12 months, depending on her feed and the size of the day. Unlike a wild cat, which needs to compete for food and experience shorter winter days depending on the region, a cat Home has the luxury of food at ease and artificial light. This means that while wild cats have a breeding period, with kittens born in the spring and early fall, a domestic cat can come into heat at any time and will likely do so every 3 to 4 weeks. A cat's behavior in heat can be alarming if you cannot recognize the cause, but these instructions will allow you to determine if that is the case.
Part 1 of 2: Recognizing behavioral cues
Step 1. Hear the calls
During this period, the cat becomes very vocal and will often walk around the house moaning or otherwise vocalizing. The sound may sound like a plaintive, anguished cry and be loud and persistent enough to keep you awake at night.
- If your cat is naturally talkative all the time, vocalization will not necessarily be a sign that she is in heat.
- When a cat is "calling" during this period, her crying tends to become much louder and more persistent and occur along with the other behaviors listed below.
Step 2. Look for agitated behavior
Restlessness and the inability to stand still are characteristic of a cat in heat.
This agitation usually goes along with callings
Step 3. Wait for increased affection
A cat in heat tends to be more affectionate than usual. If yours is naturally more reserved, this may change when she is in that period.
- During heat, your cat can rub her ankles so persistently that she becomes a danger as you try to walk.
- This behavior will also manifest itself with the cat rubbing her cheeks and chin (where her scent glands are) against furniture and especially against entry and exit locations such as door frames.
- When a cat is in heat, her scent changes a little, and she likes to spread it out to let her know that she wants a male to visit her.
Step 4. Pay attention to your cat's tail
A typical sign that a female cat is ready to mate is the tail deflection reflex. It just means that when you rub her lower back, especially over her pelvis and the base of her tail, the female lifts her hindquarters and moves her tail to one side.
This reflex is her way of facilitating access to the vulva to procreate
Step 5. Look for a typical crawling mode
This is a behavior in which the cat lowers her front body to the ground while stretching her bottom up and then crawls on the floor in this pose.
Step 6. Observe the rolling motion
Some cats in heat roll on the floor and moan at the same time.
Understandably, if you don't know that this behavior is perfectly normal, it can seem alarming and be a common cause of calls to the veterinarian. However, it is not a sign that your cat is in pain
Step 7. Look for excess licking
When a cat is in heat, her vulva typically swells. This slight swelling is uncomfortable and can cause your cat to spend a lot of time cleaning the area.
This swelling is too small for the casual observer to notice, so don't expect to see a physical difference
Step 8. Wait for the cat to disappear
Even the most homely cats become adventurous when they are in heat. If a male cat doesn't answer the call, the female can go for a walk for a day or more and look for one.
If your cat hasn't been neutered and you don't want her to get pregnant, leave her indoors during heat and close the door flap so no intruders can enter
Part 2 of 2: Understanding Your Cat's Reproductive Cycle
Step 1. Understand the estrous cycle
Cats are polyestric, which means they come into heat several times a year.
- It's different from bitches, which have a diestric cycle, coming into heat only twice a year.
- During this time, the cat's uterus will be swollen as her blood supply increases in anticipation of pregnancy. You will not be able to perceive this, however, as there are no outward signs of this process.
Step 2. Understand the role of seasons
The breeding season for wild cats is between spring and late summer. This means that puppies are born far from the harshest winters, when their chances of survival would be slim.
- Artificial light can deceive a cat, making her think it's not winter. So if she spends a lot of time indoors, changing seasons will have little or no effect on her reproductive cycle.
- Expect an indoor cat to come into heat throughout the year.
Step 3. Know the time window
A female cat's reproductive cycle is usually 21 days. Within those three weeks, expect her to spend up to seven days in heat.
- Keep your cat indoors and away from potential mates when she is in heat, unless you want puppies.
- Cats are typically in heat for four to seven days.
- As overpopulation results in countless stray and euthanized cats each year, you must neuter your cat unless you are a professional purebred cat breeder.
- You can neuter your cat at your local veterinarian. Generally, the process will cost between R$50 and R$150, depending on where you live and where you are taking her. In some places, it is possible to neuter male and female cats for reduced prices or even for free.