How to Tell If Your Cat Is in Heat and Tips to Calm Her
Your Female Cat in Heat
- The most important thing to know is that only females go into heat. Male cats, on the other hand, smell a female cat in heat and will fight over the right to mate with her. However, they do not go into heat themselves.
- Heat also only occurs in un-spayed females who are mature (usually over five months old.)
- Each period of heat lasts about one week and can involve significant behavior changes.
- Typically, a house cat will go into heat a few times a year. Because house cats enjoy safe, healthy lives with plenty of available resources such as food and water, they are fertile and naturally go into heat more often (sometimes even as often as every few weeks).
- Feral cats' bodies actually tend to go into heat about twice a year when the seasons change to spring and fall in colder climates and during the summer months in warmer climates.
Signs That Your Cat Is in Heat
There are a number of clear signs that your cat or kitten is in heat:
- Increased vocalizations (meowing, yowling, moaning). This is called "calling" and your cat may become very loud, calling throughout the day or night.
- Rubbing her head or bottom on furniture, people, or the floor much more than usual
- Spraying- Yes! Female cats spray! Their urine will have a large estrogen component to attract males, and a cat in heat will often spray objects lying around the home. (Just remember: spraying is also a sign of a UTI, so if you aren't sure she's in heat, it's best to take your cat to the vet!)
- Attempts to flee or get outside
- Over-grooming the genital area, which may appear moist and swollen
- Pushing her buttocks into the air and "making biscuits" with her back feet (almost like marching). This is the mating position.
- Rolling around on the ground
Is My Cat In Pain When in Heat?
There is not a clear answer to whether or not your cat in heat is experiencing pain or suffering, though it does seem obvious that she is very uncomfortable in the least!
My Cat Is in Heat! How Do I Calm Her?
There isn't a lot that you can do for your cat when she is in heat, other than making an appointment to get her spayed ASAP (though the vet/clinic will likely want to wait until she's out of heat to do the surgery.) Here are just a few ideas that may help, though.
- Offer your kitten or cat plenty of attention and physical contact when she is in heat. This will help to calm her down and ease some of her anxiety and restlessness.
- Similarly, playtime is important. Your kitten will be restless and uncomfortable while in heat, and the distraction and physical exertion during playtime may be just what she needs.
- Some people find that catnip is calming to their cat at this time. It's best to do a trial with just a bit to see if it helps.
- Some cats/kittens in heat like to sit on a warm, wet towel or washcloth, or a slightly warm heat pack. Just be careful and be sure that the temperature isn't too hot, and never leave a hot or plugged in heating pad under your cat. It can warm up gradually and cause burns.
The best method for making sure that your cat doesn't have to go into heat is to spay her! You'll save both your cat and yourself from a lot of stress!
Spaying Your Cat
It is so important to spay your kitten or cat before they reach the age when they go into heat. The youngest that they can usually be spayed is around 8-12 weeks, or she must weigh at least two pounds. Once spayed, she will not go into heat again.
If you've taken in an adult cat or have one who isn't spayed, it's not too late! There are low-cost spay and neuter clinics as well as regular veterinarians who will spay your cat for you!
Watch the doors carefully. Naturally, your cat's desire to go outside to find a mate will be strong, so be very watchful when leaving or entering the house so she doesn't get outside.