How to tell if your cat is in heat

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Your female cat is acting strangely, and you’re asking yourself, “How do I know my cat is in heat?” There are seven signs to look for.

Chances are you’ve heard the phrase “like a cat in heat” before, but what does that mean? “In heat” refers to when a cat is fertile and ready to mate.

A cat’s first heat happens when she hits puberty at six to 10 months old. Her oestrus cycle will usually last four to five days and, unless she becomes pregnant, she will be in heat again in roughly two to three weeks.

Signs your cat is in heat

If your cat has not been spayed (neutered/desexed), she will behave differently when she is in heat. Keep an eye out for these behaviours:

1. She is more vocal than normal

Also known as “calling,” your cat may wail, moan or meow more than usual while she is in heat. Her cries may sound distressed – and may even keep you up at night.

Consider this: If you have a naturally noisy cat, look for other signs to help you determine if she is in heat.

2. She’s restless

Her inability to relax or get comfortable could be a sign that she’s in heat – especially if this behaviour is coupled with calling.

3. A low crawl

Your cat may low crawl and moan at the same time if she is in heat. This is normal oestrus behaviour and not a sign that your cat is in pain.

4. Extra affection

She may rub up against furniture, doorways and especially your ankles to spread her scent – which has changed subtly during this cycle.

Consider this: If she’s not normally affectionate, this sign is a pretty good indicator.

5. Excessive grooming

During this time, your cat’s genital area will likely become swollen and uncomfortable, which means she might spend more time grooming this area.

6. Your indoor cat wants to be outside

If your cat is in heat, she may want to roam outdoors to spread her scent. She might also hope to meet a receptive male.

Consider this: If you have a cat flap, be sure to lock it so she can’t get out (and so other cats can’t get in).

7. Her tail tells a tale

Your cat may stick her buttocks in the air and move her tail to one side, which is the mating position.

A cat in heat will require some extra work and attention from you. Plus, there’s always the possibility of a female cat becoming pregnant and having kittens. If you don’t want to breed your cat, you should have her spayed by your vet to avoid this cycle and the risk of an unwanted or unexpected litter.

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