Is your female cat in heat? How to tell and how to help
Last Updated: 31/10/2023
Is your cat unneutered and on the verge of her first season?
Let’s take a look at some common queries relating to a female cat’s heat, as well as some top tips for keeping your kitty safe and comfortable during this time.
A brief summary...
- During oestrus season, cats can go through heat cycles every 2-3 weeks
- Signs of ‘heat’ include behaviour changes, regular meowing & escape attempts
- It's very unusual for cats to bleed while they’re in heat
- Keep your cat indoors while she’s in heat – if she gets out, she’ll almost certainly become pregnant
- If you don’t plan to breed from your cat, speak to your vet about neutering
How often do cats go into heat?
‘Heat’ refers to the stage in a female cat’s reproductive cycle where she is fertile.
Reproductive cycles occur during oestrus season – the time period during the warmer months of the year where the cat undergoes their reproductive cycles. During oestrus season, cats can experience ‘heat cycles’ every 2-3 weeks, but this can vary depending on the individual cat.
How long are cats in season for?
If a cycle lasts 2-3 weeks, cats will usually spend a 3-10 days of it in heat. Typically, a single heat lasts about a week.
During this time, the cat will be fertile and actively seeking out a male to mate with.
Read more: Tips to save money on pet care
It can be difficult to spot when your cat is in heat, especially during her first few seasons. Changes in behaviour and personality are the most important signs to watch out for:
She may be more affectionate than usual – rubbing up against people and furniture. That said, she may also become very grumpy and aggressive. Alternating between the two behaviours is not uncommon.
Female cats often get vocal when they’re in heat - this is because they’re trying to summon the attention of the nearby male cats. To help her with this, she may also spray a strong-smelling urine.
Read more: Pregnancy advice for your cat
If you keep your cat indoors during her season (a good idea unless you’d like her to have a litter), she may get restless and try her utmost to leave the house.
Occasionally, cats can lie on their bellies and swish their tails in the air whilst yowling – which can be quite alarming! They may also sniff and lick their genital area more than usual.
In the vast majority of cases, cats don’t bleed when they’re in heat, although it is possible.
Blood in their urine or around the genital area could be a sign of a urinary tract infection, so if you do spot any blood, be sure to contact your vet right away.
If your cat has not been spayed, it’s important to accept that when she’s in heat, her behaviour is natural. Keep your eyes peeled, and if your cat’s behaviour is causing trouble, speak to your vet about possible solutions.
Remember: if a female cat ventures outside when she’s in heat, it’s highly likely that she’ll become pregnant.
If you know for certain that you aren’t going to breed from your cat, it’s a good idea to have her spayed. Spaying will:
- Eliminate the risk of unplanned pregnancy
- Reduce aggression and ‘sex-linked’ behaviour
- Reduces the risk of diseases like FIV and Feline leukaemia
- Reduces roaming
Read more: Neutering your cat: what you need to know.
Need more info?
For more help and advice on your cat’s season and reproduction, the benefits of neutering or any other aspect of your cat’s welfare, have a chat with your local vet.