Female cats come “on heat” (or into season) when they begin the cycle in which they will be able to mate and get pregnant. This is a natural process, which means that it doesn’t happen exactly the same way in every animal. Female cats may to go into “heat” when they are 5 months old or later, only when they reach 10 months old or even older. It depends on the cat’s breed.
Differently from dogs, female cats can have repeated heat cycles. This means they can be “on heat” many more times than the dog females use to be. It has been shown that many factors can contribute to determine the mating season in cats, such as, for instance, the length of daylight, the environmental temperature, the cat’s state of health, if she is near intact male cats (this means male cats that weren’t neutered and are able to mate) among others.
There is another issue that is very important to understand cat’s mating: it’s not needed to wait for a special period to eggs release. Quite the opposite: female cats have induced ovulation. This means that is the act of mating that promotes their ovulation.
How do cats mate?
Since cats are often on heat, there are many opportunities to your female cat become pregnant. If you don’t want that to happen, it is extremely important go to a Veterinarian in order to perform a neutering. It is also possible to neuter a male cat. Cats have different stages when they’re on heat: Proestrus, Estrus, Interestrus and Anestrus.
The heat begins on this stage. The Proestrus lasts about one to two days. At this moment, she is not receptive to mate yet. Nevertheless, she starts having a different behaviour and her body shows some signs. It is possible to notice that the cat’s vulva widens slightly. At this moment you will probably notice that she shows a lot of affection and she becomes very agitated.
If you have a female cat, this is probably the heat’s stage that you will notice more. The Estrus lasts from four to ten days. At this moment, female cats become even more restless and start to make noise (“meows” become very frequent). When cats go into Estrus, which lasts about four to six days, they are already receptive to mate. Female cats in heat change their behaviour in order to show they are allowing to mate. You will notice that your cat will weave in and out of her paws, shake her pelvis and she will lie down on the floor rolling.
When the Estrus stage ends, female cats are not receptive to mate anymore until the end of the cycle and they firmly reject it. After Estrus, cats go through Interestrus, which may last from one to two weeks.
If the female cat becomes pregnant on Estrus, she will deliver her kittens about two months after Interestrus. It may also happen the she had an ovulation but did not become pregnant. If this occurs, she will go through a time of pseudo pregnancy for approximately a month. If nothing happened, female cats stay in Interestrus for about one or two weeks and the cycle is renewed. She goes on Proestrus again.
This is the period of inactivity (sexual and hormonal) between Estrus stages. This phase may last about three months.
How do I know my cat is on heat?
It is important to understand how it works, whether you want your cat to be pregnant or not. If you want it, you need to know how it happens to Increase the chances of your cat to become a mother. If you do not want that, you must prevent this situation and do not allow her to be close to other cats that are not neutered.
There are some signs female cats use to show when they are receptive to breed:
- You will hear your cat meowing more than ever. In fact, when cats are on season, they yowl so much that some owners may be concerned if they are feeling well. Don’t worry about that, it’s perfectly normal.
- Your cat will be very attentive to the genital area and she will lick her vulva very often.
- You will notice some behavioural changes: your cat probably will eat less and will start to spray urine frequently.
- Female cats try by any means to go outside when they are receptive to mate. You must be very careful about it.
- Your cat will probably be very affective towards people and other cats. Things such as rolling on the floor and weaving between people’s legs may happen. When you pet your cat, she may raise her bottom in the air and shake her tail.
How can I identify the signs of a cat’s pregnancy?
A female cat’s behaviour obviously changes when she is pregnant. There are also some physical alterations. You will probably notice that her nipples will become rose and she will be very hungry. Her affection for you will continue to be very evident. In this stage she needs to feel safe to prepare the environment to receive her kittens.
If you don’t want your cat become a mother, the best thing to do is take her to the Veterinarian to perform a sterilisation. As we have seen, cats are on season very frequently, which increases the chances to have a successful mating and, as a result, a pregnancy.
If you want to avoid this, you may ask a Veterinarian to perform a procedure called ovariohysterectomy. This consists on remove the uterus and ovaries. By doing this, you will avoid that your cat have kittens and also protect her from several diseases related to the reproductive system.
If you have any question about cats season or you need help to decide if you want your cat to mate, you may talk to your Veterinarian to get the best advice.