How Long Do Cats Stay in Heat?

how long do cats stay in heat

Breeding cats and raising kittens can be a rewarding experience which is why every cat owner needs to know about the cat heat cycle. Unlike a dog heat cycle, cats can come in heat several times a year which may additionally be affected by climatic conditions, genetics and seasonal changes etc. Feline heat cycles are called Estrus and in this guide we will be studying everything you need to know about them-particularly the signs of heat in cats as well as how long a female cat stays in heat.

How often do cats come in heat? How long does it last?

A female cat, also called Queen, can come in heat several times a year. Each heat cycle lasts for about 2-3 weeks. If the Queen is not bred during this period, she might return to heat in a couple of weeks. This will repeat several times over and over until she is spayed or bred. Many factors affect how long and how often a Queen will come in heat including her species, geographical factors, temperature and number of hours of daylight and so on.

Signs and symptoms of feline heat cycle

As compared to dogs, cats show completely different signs of being in heat. Firstly, there is very little or no vaginal bleeding. Even if there is, cats, being excellent groomers, clean it up. So most pet owners might not detect any blood or vaginal discharge in their homes. The most important sign that a Queen is in heat is that she becomes extremely affectionate. She might constantly rub against the furniture or cling to her owner. A cat in heat also tends to roll on the floor. Many female cats raise their rear ends and tread on their back paws in this period. Others become very vocal to attract the attention of un-neutered male cats. All these behavioral changes may alarm cat owners who are not aware of these signs. Some even run to their vets thinking their cat is sick. Rest assured that these are all normal signs of cat heat or estrus cycle.

As with dogs, a male cat can smell a female in heat from miles away; so do not be surprised to see strange tom cats in your yard.

Breeding a cat in heat

Cats, unlike dogs, do not need a specific timing for breeding. This is because; cats are induced ovulators meaning that the act of breeding itself stimulates their ovaries to release eggs. This makes cat breeding much less complicated compared to dog breeding. The male cat only needs to deposit the sperm in the reproductive tract of the female and this process itself stimulates her ovaries to release eggs. Most cats require 3-4 breeding sessions in a 24 hour period for ovulation to occur. As soon as ovulation occurs, the female goes out of heat.

Seasonal changes and Cat heat cycles

Cat heat cycles are photoperiod dependent-meaning that cats often cease to cycle during the short days of late fall or early winter. Some cat experts also believe that short haired cats are more prone to cycling all year round without notable interruptions. On the other hand, their long haired counterparts are more sensitive to seasonal changes which then affect their cycling. As a pet owner though, you must not depend on this alone. If you do not want your cat to get pregnant; it is best to get her spayed as soon as she is over 6 months old.


Cat heat cycles usually start around the age of 4 to 6 months. If you want your Queen to be bred, wait until she is at least a year old as this is the age she will develop the responsibility to start a family. Otherwise, it is best to have her spayed as soon as she is about 6 months of age.

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