How long is your cat in heat? This question means your kitty hasn’t been spayed. That is one way to prevent the heat cycle and unwanted pregnancies. If your spaying is something you don’t want to do yet (for breeding or other medical reasons), then you’ve come to the right place. For most cat owners, if they don’t control the heat cycle of their pet, it seems like an eternity. But why do cats stay in heat for so long?
How long does a cat stay in heat?
Normally, cats stay in heat for 4 to 10 days. This cycle occurs repeatedly during the mating season once the cat reaches her sexual maturity. However, the mating season of cats calls for a more detailed description.
Cats are seasonal breeders. This means, they can go into their heat cycle only if there is daylight present for more than 12 hours. This means cats can go in heat for a period of six months between early spring and early autumn in the most parts of the world.
Please note that not all cats follow their evolutionary programming. First, it may be breed dependent. Many short haired cats go in heat all year round. Some long haired cats, like Persians, tend to stop going into heat during winter more often than not. Also, artificial lighting may influence their hormones too.
How long is each part of the heat in cats?
During the mating season, which can last from six to nine months, cats come in heat periodically. Normally cats stay in heat for four to six days, unless ovulation, pregnancy, or pseudo-pregnancy occurs.
The cat heat cycle consists of three parts:
- Proestrus. It’s a period of one to two days. This is the time your cat’s body is preparing to come in heat. Usually early symptoms may be present. You can read more about symptoms of cats in heat here.
- Estrus. It’s when your cat is responsive to mating and can ovulate and conceive. This period usually lasts four to ten days and is when the cat is said to be “in heat“.
- Interestrus. It’s when your cat is not in heat and her body is resting for the next heat cycle. Cats cannot conceive during this time. Thankfully, her symptoms of the heat usually stop. This interval lasts seven to 14 days.
Please note that during the mating season, some cats may show significant signs of being in heat during the interestrus interval. This is why it seems that your cat is in heat ALL the time. While this isn’t physically happening to her, it seems like she is. Especially if your cat is meowing, screaming, and otherwise acting crazier than normal. It’s not her fault, it’s her crazy hormones. We recommend if your cat is able to be spayed, both of you will be much happier in the future without going through this.
If you want to learn more, please read our series about heat cycle of cats.