Every female cat that hasn’t been spayed goes into heat at some point.

This is a period where your cat could need some extra care.

When Do Cats Start Going Into Heat?

Most female cats begin going into heat when they have reached six months of age. By this time they are fully mature and capable of mating with male cats. There are, however, some cats that take up to 12 months to reach puberty and start going into heat.

Cats typically go into heat between the months of March and September in North America. This is when there are about ten hours of sunlight each day. If your cat is inside all the time under artificial lights, the season or time of year is irrelevant.

What Causes a Cat to go into Heat?

The more light there is, the more of the cat’s melatonin is depleted. This triggers a reaction in a certain part of the brain called the hypothalamus, which is responsible for regulating the animal’s heat cycle.

two cats cuddling

How Often Does a Cat go into Heat?

Cats can go into heat a number of times in a given year, and they are capable of having up to five different litters.

It is possible for a cat to go into heat twice each month after spring has started. Your cat needs to be spayed in order to keep the heat cycles from continuing.

It is not uncommon for cats that are kept inside under artificial lighting all the time to always be in heat to some degree or another.

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Stages of a Cat’s Heat Cycle

When your cat goes into heat, its body goes through a series of cycles. The first of these cycles is proestrus, which only lasts a couple of days. In this stage, the cat attracts males but isn’t ready to mate with them. 

The second stage is called estrus. It is fairly common for cats to start yowling and making a lot of noise in this stage of the cycle. They become restless if they cannot mate with a male. It can last anywhere from three days to a little over two weeks. Most cats only experience estrus for not more than a week.

If your cat starts ovulating, they go into a stage called diestrus. This occurs when a cat becomes pregnant, causing her body to produce progesterone. The average length of time for a feline pregnancy is two months.

cat on floor mat

Do Cats Go Through Menopause?

There have been quite a few misconceptions spread regarding a cat’s ability to go through menopause like human females. The fact is that most cats are capable of mating and conceiving a litter the entire life.

Menstruation is required for menopause to eventually occur, and cats do not menstruate. Cats tend to produce increasingly small litters as they get older. 

An older cat that becomes pregnant can experience numerous health issues, which is why it is not recommended. This is precisely why cat breeders do not let their cats mate past five years of age.

Caring for a Cat in Heat

There is no question that cats can be extra difficult when they are in heat. You will probably notice your cat yowling and vying for attention more than usual. It is important that you are very patient with them during this period.

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1. Learn When to Keep Your Distance

If your cat becomes very aggressive or irritable, you need to make it as comfortable as possible. Avoid doing anything that could irritate your pet more than it already is—just let it be.

2. Give it Some Extra Attention

A little bit of extra attention can go a long way towards comforting your cat while it is in heat. If it isn’t acting aggressively, you can try playing with it a bit more than usual.

3. Make Sure it Cannot Escape

Cats that are in heat are always looking for a way to get out of the house because of their natural urge to mate. You will therefore need to make sure that all windows are closed and that there aren’t any openings for your cat to escape through.

4. Keep Your Male and Female Cats Separate

Having an unsprayed female cat in the same house as an un-neutered cat can be a real challenge. If you do not want breeding to occur, you might want to find a temporary home outside of yours for one of the cats. This can make everyone’s lives a little bit easier.

How Can I Prevent My Cat from going into Heat?

The only reliable way to keep your cat from going into heat is to have it spayed. This will ensure that your pet will no longer experience a heat cycle. You can get a cat spayed as early as six weeks.

It is a good idea to wait until your cat is no longer in heat to have it spayed. This will reduce the chances of excessive blood loss during the procedure, which can be fatal.

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If you have an unsprayed female cat living with an un-neutered cat, spaying is recommended unless you are planning on breeding. This is a simple procedure that is perfectly safe for most cats.

Conclusion

  • Cats can start going into heat from the time they reach full maturity, which is around six months.
  • It is most common for cats to go into heat during times of the year when the sun is out for ten hours each day.
  • Strictly indoor cats can go into heat throughout the year due to the regular exposure to artificial lighting.
  • Cats are capable of going into heat every couple of months.
  • If your cat is always indoors, they are probably always in some stage of the heat cycle.
  • It is important that you are patient with your cat while it is in heat.
  • Learn when to give your in-heat cat extra attention and when to just leave it alone.
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