How Long Do Cats Stay In Heat? (The Facts You Need To Know)
Most veterinarians recommend that you spay (remove the ovaries and uterus) your female cat as young as possible, some veterinarians will even perform the spay surgery at 6 weeks of age. This will prevent estrus (the heat cycle), unwanted pregnancies, and even some reproductive cancers like mammary and uterine cancer. Spaying your cat at an early age will also prevent spraying, or territory marking with urine, which can happen in male and female cats.
What Is The Heat Cycle?
However, if you haven't been able to get your kitten to the vet under 6 months of age, she will likely go into heat, although some cats don't go into heat until they are 1 year old.
When your cat goes into heat depends on the light cycles of nature—a cat's hormone cycle is activated when she is sexually stimulated or when the sun is out for about ten hours per day—in most of North America, this is between the months of March and September. Alternatively, a female cat that lives indoors under artificial lighting 24 hours per day can go into heat at any time.
See these Youtube videos that exhibit cats in heat:
[Video] Female Cat In Heat: Mate Calling
[Video] Cat In Heat
What If My Cat Gets Pregnant?
In the event that your cat gets pregnant, you should take her to the vet immediately to ensure that she is healthy and that the kittens are healthy. Your vet may do an ultrasound or take an X-ray to see how many kittens your queen (pregnant cat) is having and if they are forming correctly.
You will know if your cat is pregnant because her nipples will appear suddenly darker and enlarged (this occurs around three weeks), and she will gain weight rapidly. A typical cat pregnancy will last nine weeks, and she will likely have four to six kittens.
Most cats do not need any help with the birthing process, unless a kitten gets stuck in the birth canal, in which case she would need an emergency Cesarean Section operation at your veterinarian's office. This is very rare in cats, and unless there is a long gap between birthing kittens, you should not worry about this.
Cats need a safe, dark, and quiet space in which to give birth, and many will choose to give birth under furniture or in closets. Your cat may exhibit “nesting” behavior when the birth of her kittens is imminent, such as laying in laundry baskets or soft bedding.
What Can I Expect When My Cat Gets Spayed?
As mentioned above, spaying your cat has many advantages, including keeping the pet population under control, and preventing certain types of cancers in your cat. Additionally, spaying prevents pyometra, a dangerous and often fatal infection of the uterus, which is very difficult to treat. The treatment for pyometra includes antibiotics and emergency removal of the uterus when the cat is stable enough to undergo surgery.
During a normal spay surgery, your veterinarian will remove the ovaries and uterus of your cat through a small vertical incision in the abdomen. This surgery is routine, and most cats tolerate it very well.
Your veterinarian may keep your cat in the hospital overnight or send your cat home with you when she wakes up, providing that you have a safe, quiet space to keep her in for several days. She will likely go home with pain medication for a few days in order to help her heal, which can be given by mouth or put into a small amount of canned food.
What If My Cat Has Complications After Her Spay Surgery?
Most cats heal very quickly and without event from this surgery, and your cat will be fully healed within about ten days. Possible complications of this surgery include dehiscence, or opening of the incision, and infection. You will know if your cat has an infection if the incision is getting more red, swollen, or has a discharge with a foul odor.
Both of these problems can be corrected at your veterinarian's office, and both should be treated immediately. Complications during or after a spay surgery are very rare.
As a responsible and attentive pet owner, you will know when your cat is in heat by her behavior, because she will be overly affectionate, loud, hungry and restless. The way to prevent unwanted pregnancies, infections, estrus, and reproductive cancers in your female cat is to spay her when she is young, preferably before her first heat cycle at six months of age.If you have any questions about cats in heat, pregnancy, or spaying your cat, please feel free to comment!