Cats are fascinating, beautiful and full of mystery! They will always surprise you with their mannerisms. As a cat parent, if you have doubts about their heat cycle, read on. Here is some relevant information for you.
Cats are seasonally polyestrous animals i.e., they will have their heat or estrous cycle only during specific periods or months of the year but multiple times. Queens (unspayed female cats) are also known as long day breeders hence their breeding period starts typically from February to October in Indian temperate zone and therefore cats are photoperiodic when it comes to their heat cycle. But being queens there are a few exceptions to them. They can be in heat almost the whole year round.
A cat’s estrous cycle is mainly influenced by three reasons:
- Breed type
- Time of the year or length of the day light
- Body condition of the cat
Queens can experience their first heat or estrous cycle between the ages of four to twelve months depending upon their breed and body size. On an average, at about six months of age.
Short haired cats for example: American short haired, Bombay cats, can experience puberty earlier than the long haired cats such as Persian cats, Norwegian Forest cats. It is considered that the average body weight of the cat during her puberty or sexual maturity should be 80% of the total adult body weight i.e., around 2 to 3 kg.
Generally cats have two to four estrous cycles every year. Each heat cycle lasts for around 15- 22 days i.e., three weeks. Recurrence of the cycle can be observed at the range of 4 to 30 days but typically can be observed 14 to 21 days apart.
Queens are induced ovulators i.e., they release the egg cell during the copulation or shortly after the copulation. Spontaneous ovulation can also be observed in queens depending upon the environment, audiovisuals or olfactory communications and tactile stimulations.
The signs of vaginal bleeding in cats are hardly visible during her estrous cycle. The most observant signs of estrus or heat cycle in cats are behavioural.
- Being extra affectionate towards the owner or demanding more love and caressing may be observed during this period.
- Lifting her tail or rear body and being alert are signs which can be observed.
- Being extra vocal i.e., meowing increases during their heat cycle which can be sometimes misunderstood by the owner for any illness.
- Frequent micturation (urination) or spraying urine in the surroundings, near the corners or borders of the walls or vertical objects, is visible. Micturition/urination is nothing but the spread of pheromones and hormones to attract the tom cat (male cat).
How to handle a cat’s estrous cycle?
There are a few things which cat owners need to keep in mind so that their queen should have a safe and painfree heat cycle:
During this period cats need extra care and petting to make them feel loved. You can give them their regular grooming session and brush them to make them feel relaxed.
Cats are not much of cuddlers. They are moody and behave in their own way. Hence providing them a comfortable and cosy bedding will allow them to have their ‘Me Time.’
Catnip is a herb which contains nepetalactone which helps them to calm down. But it is observed that sexually mature cats are more affected by catnip. It is found that the catnip (Nepeta cataria) and catmint (Nepeta mussinii) are mostly found varieties.
Catnip is a volatile aromatic oil. When cats sniff, chew or rub on catnip, it enters into their olfactory receptors where they stimulate the sensory neurons which respond to hypothalamus. Hypothalamus helps to regulate the emotions and hence cats feel good and this helps to calm them down. The effect of catnip only lasts for 5-10 minutes and is not repeated for almost 1-2 hours.
Cats get hyper excited during heat periods and it is usual to observe the tom cat in the surroundings. To avoid unnecessary pregnancy or accidents it is advisable to keep your queens in a secure parameter.
Cats might get restless during this period and become extra vocal which can be annoying sometimes. During such times, be patient towards your queens and pamper them with all the love and care.
You can spay (surgically sterilize) your cat after six- eight months of age to make yourself and your queen free from all the hassle. We hope you have got in all the information required about your cat’s heat cycle or you could always contact a cat doctor or a veterinarian for more.