Kittens grow quickly. Before you know it, your baby kitten, with eyes shut and ears folded, has reached puberty. It is hard to keep track of their growth without maintaining a kitten growth chart. The growth chart would help you identify, with certainty, when your cat is likely to enter her first heat cycle.
Has your kitten already gone into her first heat? This might have gotten you pondering, how long does a cat stay in heat?
The short answer is: On average, a cat stays in heat for six days. But this may not always be the case. Some may stay a little longer, some for shorter periods.
We will discuss this and similar questions in the lines below. For instance, if your cat has not reached puberty yet, you might also be curious to know when a cat enters her first heat. How often does a cat go into heat? And how can you prevent your cat from going into heat? Should you even consider preventing heat in your cat?
When Do Cats Have Their First Heat?
Cats go into their first heat cycle, also known as the estrus cycle, when they reach puberty. So, when does a cat reach puberty?
Well, there is no one-size-fits-all answer here. While some cats may hit puberty at the young age of four months, others may take even up to a year or even longer.
Cats are seasonally polyestrous, meaning that unspayed female cats, also known as queens, have multiple heat cycles during the mating season until they mate and get pregnant.
Stages of a Cat Heat Cycle
The estrous cycle in cats consists of four stages.
During this period, queens are reproductively dormant. There is no heat cycle activity, and none of the reproductive hormones are active. This usually occurs during the winter months. In the United States, the anestrus period would be between September and January. This is because cats need longer daylight exposure for their reproductive hormones to kick in.
Feral and stray cats’ mating season is from spring to fall when days are longer, and they have ample time to bask in the sunlight. Domestic indoor cats are more exposed to artificial lights—and yes, artificial lights work too—one can expect them to have heat cycles throughout the year.
At this stage, your cat is preparing to come in the heat but she is not there yet. This is the reason that your cat may attract unneutered male cats but would still not be receptive to mating. This stage would only last from one to two days.
This is the stage when your cat is truly in heat. She will not only attract unneutered male cats but will also be receptive to mating. Cats are induced ovulators, meaning that they will only start ovulating after mating. Some queens may not begin ovulating unless they have mated three to four times within 24 hours. A queen may mate with multiple tomcats and give birth to kittens of different fathers.
Many behavioral changes such as yowling, rolling around, marking vertical objects, raising her rear, and rubbing against the owner (or other things) indicate that the cat is in heat.
Interestrus is the period between one estrus and the next. Queens who do not ovulate during the estrus stage will go into interestrus. On average, the interestrus period lasts seven days, but it can be as short as two days and as long as 19 days. After the end of this period, the cat will again go into the proestrus stage, which will lead to estrus. This heat cycle will continue until your unspayed cat is pregnant.
Do Male Cats Go in Heat?
Your male cat acting crazy and losing his cool might get you wondering if your tomcat is in heat. No, Mr. Fluffy acting like an insatiable maniac is not in heat. Male cats do not go into heat; only female cats do. Male cats can mate all year round. They only act crazy, like they are in heat when they smell a nearby cat in heat.
Why You Should Prevent Your Cat From Going Into Heat?
Cat in heat can be difficult to deal with—for you as well as your cat. If you have ever been awakened from a deep sleep due to your cat’s yowling, you will have an idea of how disquieting it can be for cat owners. Although cats yowling does not mean that your cat is in pain, we may construe it as if she is in pain.
While you may not find your cat’s yowling much disturbing, your neighbors might. In addition to giving your neighbors a chance to complain, a cat in heat would also try to escape in search of a mating partner. And if she is failing to mate, she will continue to go into heat cycle every other week until she gets pregnant or spayed.
This is the reason that most cat owners spay their cats before they go into their first heat. Spaying not only keeps your cat from going into heat and stops her nighttime yowling with it, but also has many health benefits such as the decreased risk of cancer, infections, and improve life expectancy.
If you have not spayed your cat, her nighttime yowling during cat mating season will keep you up at night and make you wonder how long does a cat stay in heat. However, you need to spay her only if you do not want her to have kittens.
But until she is spayed, you have to give her extra care and attention to take her mind off mating. Be patient, calm her with toys, music, and games, etc.