Is your amorous feline trying your patience? If you have had a cat in heat, you know the signs are unmistakable.

If you have NOT witnessed a cat in heat before, you are in for a surprise!

Female cats in heat will suddenly be more affectionate, rubbing against your legs constantly, purring, rolling on the floor, meowing non-stop and yowling like there’s no tomorrow.

It’s enough to drive you mad!

If your cat is at least 4-5 months old and not spayed, she will enter her heat cycle, called estrus or oestrus.

Unlike a human female, who has an average of around a 15% chance of pregnancy each month of the year and ovulates (releases an egg or eggs) each month, a cat will have several heats in a breeding season, which is stimulated by seasonal change and length of days.

Seasonality Changes for a Cat in Heat

In the wild, animals don’t go into heat near winter, as there is a scarcity of food and often severe conditions that would make it difficult for their young to survive during the harsh winter.

It follows then that typically, female cats will go into heat beginning in the spring.

As cats have become more domesticated, the breeding season has become longer.

As a result of cohabitation with humans, where there is artificial light in the home and less of a temperature variable, we are seeing kittens in shelters nearly year-round.

This is all just to remind you that if you think your little princess is safe from the marauding tom across the street (or 3 blocks over!) just because it’s Christmastime, think again!

cat in heat

How Long Does a Cat in Heat Cycle Last?

The entire cat in heat cycle will last 18 to 24 days, but you may not be aware of this cycle in the beginning…the active, vocal, agitated stage of a cat in heat will only last from 4 to 10 days.

In addition to the rolling and yowling, your cat in heat will raise her rump up in the air to invite the male to mate with her.

Unfortunately, this behavior will not just go away on its own–ovulation doesn’t just happen and get over with; her ovary is only triggered to release eggs upon the act of mating.

If she is confined to the house with no tomcat to mate with and trigger ovulation, she will continue to enter heat cycles throughout the breeding season.

If you are a cat owner and are witnessing this cat in heat cycle for the first time, it’s time to make a decision about her future.

Spaying your cat is one option, and letting her breed is quite another entirely.

OK, you love kittens. This website is all about kittens! But being able to prevent a litter of kittens that may not find homes is something you should seriously consider.

Unless you are a professional breeder, the desire to enjoy the “fun” of kittens is just not a good enough reason to bring more of them into the world.

40,000 kittens are born every day in the U.S. alone, and there simply are not enough homes for all of them.

Plus, a spayed or neutered pet will live longer and have fewer health problems.

It is generally recommended to spay and neuter before sexual maturity, but the fact that you are reading this probably means you missed that chance!

The final option, doing nothing, is a disservice to your cat, as the stress of always having increased sex hormones during this cycle can affect her health and happiness.

If you continue to let her enter heats without being “serviced” by a Tom, she will feel endless frustration…and trust us, midnight howling will not be a picnic for you either!

If you have given it considerable thought or if you are a breeder and have decided to breed your female cat in heat, you can learn everything you need to know about kitten care in our eBook, Raising Kittens: A Care Guide for the New Kitten Owner.