How Long Are Cats in Heat?

Whether you are a first time cat owner or you’ve had one for years, every owner needs to know when their cat is in heat.

Being in heat is part and parcel of being a cat or any female animal for that matter.

We’re going to answer the question: How Long are Cats in Heat?

What Is A Cat ‘In Heat’?

A cat in heat is a cat that is ready to mate. This is the time when they are the most fertile and actively seeking a mate to make a little cat baby with.

It is an overpowering urge that is outside their remit of control. The call to mate goes above and beyond what we can understand.

It is a primal urge dating back since time began and animals started mating. It is a part of their genetic makeup.

It can cause cats to run away, act violently when they otherwise wouldn’t, behave strangely in general, and exhibit sexual behaviors that you may not have seen before in your pet.

Luckily for you, there are some symptoms that you can keep an eye on. Symptoms to keep you clued in as to when your cat may be about to begin a heat cycle.

Signs And Symptoms: A Cat In Heat

There are some tell-tale signs that you can keep a watch for. Let’s explore the most common signs that your cat is either in heat or about to be.

Their Vocabulary Has Expanded

That’s right, a cat in heat makes the weirdest sounds you may ever hear. You might even think that they are in pain.

They are just letting the eligible cat males know that they are ready and available for mating.

They Seem Stressed

If your feline seems more agitated, stressed out, or will not stay still. These are the symptoms to look out for when we say ‘stressed’.

Of course, these can also be signs of infection, so if they exhibit any other symptoms of concern, take them to a vet. Just to be on the safe side.

They Are Moving Differently

Cats are quite nimble creatures. They jump, they pounce, they can run at speed. So if they suddenly slow down their movements, they might be about to enter a heat cycle.

The other tell is if they are crawling around on the floor a lot, for example with their stomach on the ground.

They Become Obsessed With Their Own Genitals

This is probably the biggest clue. A cat that is suddenly obsessed with its own genitals, for example, licking itself at all hours of the day and the night, is due to its heat cycle.

They Won’t Leave You Alone. Or The Lamp. Or The Sofa

This isn’t an affectionate thing. This is to try to stave off their own frustration.

A cat on the precipice of a heat cycle will rub up against any living or inanimate object that they can find in order to ward off some of their primal cravings.

They Constantly Try To Leave You

They will also try to get out of the house at all hours of the day. If they are not licking themselves or fawning all over anything in their path, that is.

This is even more relevant when there is a fertile male nearby that they’re trying to mate with. A male cat can smell a female in heat from miles away.

They Present Themselves

And by presenting themselves, we mean they walk around and put themselves into positions ready for mating.

They Urinate Everywhere And Anywhere

This is called scent marking. It is a way of projecting out their scent to prospective mates left, right, and enter.

Everywhere they go, they will urinate a little to mark that they’re fertile and ready to be found.

They Might Go Off Their Food

And last but not least, a cat in heat or almost in heat will more than likely not be eating all that much.

They are too distracted by their hormones and primal urges to think about food.

Do Cats Have Periods?

Yes. Female cats have a monthly ovulation cycle. It is nothing like the human female. Instead of a menstrual cycle, it is known as the estrus cycle.

During the estrus cycle, also known as being in heat, the cat reabsorbs the uterine lining.

They don’t bleed like humans. If they do, it’s just a little.

What Happens During The Estrus Cycle?

The estrus cycle can last up to three weeks. The average cat’s cycle is around seven days. But, it can be as short as two days.

During this time, they will demonstrate a range of symptoms that we discussed above, maybe even all of them.

If the cat manages to mate, and ovulation occurs, the heat cycle will end within two days. The estrus cycle can repeat every two or three weeks.

How Old Is A Cat When They Begin Their Cycle?

The estrus cycle can begin when the cat is four months old, though this is a rarer occurrence.

Normally, the first cycle will occur around 6 months of age. A cat can have babies as soon as its first ever heat cycle.

Ways To Stop Your Cat From Going Into Heat

There is only one way to stop your cat’s heat cycle.

This is a procedure called spaying. It is a small, but a significant procedure that removes all the reproductive organs from the body.

This means that the estrus cycle will never happen and, therefore, the cat will never be able to bear kittens.


So how long are cats in heat? A cat can be in heat from as little as two days all the way up to three weeks. Every cat has a different cycle, just like humans.

And every cycle can last a different length of time. The only way to know when your cat’s heat has begun is by recognizing the signs.

It will be fairly obvious, as they will transform from your lovely little pet into a hormone charged feral wildcat.

Courtney Trent
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