Brace yourselves for some schooling.

Now, who knew that when the temperatures rise and the daylight is longer that female cats will start to behave in a strange way, rubbing up on a person making funny sounds for it to only be that they are on heat? Well, I did not know that, a self-confessed known it all, I had to find out more about this, because I know some of you out there do not know much about cats being on heat.

Now I am not one to assume that everyone knows what “going on heat” means, so here goes the explanation. When someone says that their cat is on heat, they mean that their cat is on estrus or rather that it is ready to get some babies.

When does estrus happen?

Estrus happens at puberty. Considering a cat’s life, this would be when they are 6 months old or more depending on the time of the year. There are factors that come in play for a cat to be on heat. Factors like the length of the day changing, how much the cat weighs, its age, its health and the cat’s breed.

How to tell if your cat is on heat

The telltale signs of estrus in cats are behavioral which means if you are able to note some of them, you will tell that your cat is on heat. Some of them are:

  • Your cat will be very vocal as it makes a sound that does not sound like its normal meowing sound. The sound that your cat will make will sound more like distress call.
  • There will be a lot of love shown as your cat will be rubbing against you or other cats.
  • When you touch and rub your cat’s back, her mannerisms might be a little off as she will raise her bottom up while walking up and down and her tail will move side to side.
  • Your cat will be doing a lot of extra licking on her privates
  • If your cat was one NOT to spray pee around your house you will notice that there is pee when she is on heat
  • Your cat will not really want to eat and will want to go outside, especially if it is a house cat.

Then again, there are cats that completely forego all the above signs and they go through the whole being on heat thing silently and you as a cat owner find yourself with little kittens unawares. But if you are lucky enough to undergo the above, it might be quite annoying and/or worrying as one might think that something is wrong with the cat. A quick stop at the vet and you find out that your purry friend just wants to have a quick romp in the sack and then all goes back to normal.

Estrus lasts from one day to about seven days. If you are not planning on having kittens, that is the time period you need to keep your cat safely indoors and not let her out to have just any tomcat have a go at her. If she does not get mated, she will go out of heat for at least two weeks and then she is back again.

How many times does estrus occur?

Cats go on heat several times when it is breeding season for them which is known as polyestrous. The term simply means that cats are able to go on heat many times in a year. If a female cat does not get mated every time she goes on heat, she will keep going on heat till she does.

If estrus occurs and there is no mating, the following three outcomes might happen:

  • The cat will get together with a tomcat which will result in her being pregnant.
  • The cat will get together with a tomcat but will have a false pregnancy with full signs but will not give birth to kittens. She will go on heat again after a few weeks.
  • She will not mate and will go through the cycle of going on heat after a week or so.

Gestation period of a cat

When a cat gets pregnant, it will carry the fetuses for about eight to nine weeks. The first three weeks might be difficult to ascertain whether a cat is pregnant. At about 25 days into the pregnancy, a vet might perform an ultrasonic pregnancy diagnosis. At six weeks, bones have formed in the fetuses and an x-ray can be done to confirm pregnancy.

What to do to prevent pregnancy in cats

To not have a cat that is on heat every second week, one can simply sterilize the cat. It is often termed as spaying (for females) and neutering (for males). It is usually advised to do it before the cat is seven months old.

The advantage of spaying is that you will not have unwanted kittens thus reducing the number of cats out in the cold, cruel world of people who do not like cats or homeless cats.

Medically, spaying your cat will prevent metritis whereby the uterus becomes inflamed, it will also prevent uterine infections in your cat, it will reduce ovarian cysts and tumors on its reproductive organs.

Additionally, you will not have the risk of your cat escaping to the unknown only to come back pregnant. You will also prevent things like your cat being hit by a car if she escapes when she is on heat. You will also prevent her from getting diseases like leukemia and feline AIDS.

If by any chance she undergoes estrus, the best option is to keep her indoors and away from all the male cats in your household if they are not neutered. If by accident she does escape, you can take her to the vet who would be able to give sound advice on what to do if she is pregnant.

If you do not know who the male is that got to mate with your cat, it would be advisable to have her tested for leukemia and/or feline AIDS to determine if she has been infected or not.

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