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For How Long are Cats in Heat? Estrous Cycles in Cats

Updated by Amy Granger on Dec 3, 2021

For many reasons, we, as cat owners, desire to know everything about our pets, especially how long they last in heat. We may want to know this to accurately determine when to introduce them to a male cat or keep them away from male cats (in a situation where we don't want to litter our compound with some litters). In this article, we will be answering many questions regarding cats' heat cycle and related questions.

cats in heat

Given the condition that a female cat (queen) does not mate with a male cat (while in heat) and that there are extended daylight hours, a cat, on average, can be in heat for seven days. Remember, this is just an average estimation. Your own cat might last in heat for two days, three days or for as long as nineteen days! Yea, nineteen good days! It basically depends on your cat. Your cat can experience these cycles fortnightly or every three weeks.

There are five different phases of heat cycles in a cat. They include the proestrus phase, the estrus phase, the interestrus phase, the diestrus phase, and the anestus phase. Now, let's look at these phases in details.

Proestrus Phase: at this phase, there will be an increased amount of intermediate epithelial cells, and cornified cells will begin to appear near estrus, cellular debris. The proestrus signs occur but then subside, only to be followed a few days later by normal proestrus and estrus. This occurrence usually disappears with maturity. Many cats will rub their heads and necks against objects and display affectionate behavior. Occasionally, cats in proestrus have a slight pollakiuria and mucoid vulvar discharge; it only lasts one to two days.

Estrus Phase: Cats experience extended estrus on occasion (lasting more than seven days). This could be caused by the maturation of overlapping waves of follicles with sustained high estradiol levels in some circumstances. The Siamese and similar breeds are especially prone to this sort of lengthy estrus. Other queens with long behavioral estrus, on the other hand, have typical follicular growth patterns. It's unclear why these queens have prolonged estrus rather than different estrus episodes.

Diestrus Phase: The diestrus phase of the queen's estrous cycle occurs after ovulation, when the dominant hormone is progesterone. It occurs when a cat has ovulated; in other words when the cat mates with another cat.

Anestrus Phase: This is the absence of any heat cycle. It can occur as a result of fewer daylight hours. If your cat stays indoors and is constantly exposed to your room's lighting, it is not likely to experience this.

Interestrus Phase: The period between one estrus and the next in queens that have not ovulated is the interestrus. It is also known as secondary anestrus. During this time, the plasma estradiol level is low, and no sexual behaviors are obvious at this point. The duration of interestrus can range from 2 to 19 days but on average is seven days. It is more prevalent in queens than primary anestrus.

different cats in heat

It is not usual to see vaginal bleeding from a cat in heat. The most prominent signs of estrus in cats are behavioral. During the estrus (heat) phase, a female cat may display changes in behavior such as:

  • Constant, loud vocalizing: They get pretty vocal as well. Owners find these changes in behavior irritating, and they may believe their cat is suffering from a rare ailment.
  • Rubbing, rolling, increased affection: Most cats become very friendly, even demanding, rubbing against their humans (or items like furniture) in an effort to get attention.
  • Urine spraying.
  • Scratching at doors/windows, trying to escape.
  • Raising her hindquarters in the air while flapping her tail, indicating that she is interested in male cats and ready to mate. They roll around on the ground, raise their rear quarters into the air and tread with their back legs when stroked along the back or spine.

Clearly, some of these behaviors can be a source of concern for pet owners. Not to mention the fact that if your cat becomes pregnant, you'll have a whole other problem to deal with. So, how can you prevent your cat from going into heat?

Spaying your cat is the only way to prevent them from becoming pregnant. You can spay kittens as early as eight weeks, according to the ASPCA. It would be best if you spayed them before their first heat, which occurs about five months.

Spaying your cat will not only prevent them from going into heat (and thus pregnancies or undesired behaviors), but it will also benefit their long-term health. According to the ASPCA, spaying your cat before her first heat will help reduce her risk of breast tumors and uterine cancer.

Q1. How long does a cat stay in heat the first time?

All things being equal, the average cat will be in heat for seven days (ranging from two to two weeks or thereabout). This cycle can reoccur every two to three weeks, as long as there are extended daylight hours. This length does not change whether your cat is just experiencing its first heat cycle or second.

Q2. How Often Do Cats Go Into Heat?

Cats' heat cycles are known as "polyestrus," which means they will go through heat cycles on a regular basis during their reproductive years. These heat cycles can begin as early as the fourth or fifth month of a kitten's life and last until she is spayed or bred. Cats go through heat cycles that last anything from a few days to two weeks or longer, and they recur every two to three weeks.

Q3. When Do Cats go into heat?

When it comes to when cats attain sexual maturity, the number of daylight hours has the most influence. When there are 14-16 hours of daylight(artificial or natural), cats usually go into heat. This occurs in the Northern Hemisphere from mid-January to mid-October.

Q4. How Do You Stop a Cat in Heat from Meowing?

One potent way to stop your cat from meowing is by installing a Feliway diffuser in your cat's environment before it comes into heat. This synthetic feline pheromone surrounds your cat with familiar and safe scents. Pheromones are chemical messengers like the pheromones a queen gives off to signal to a male cat that she's in heat and ready to mate. The perk of the ones in Feliway is that they may have a soothing and calming impact on her.


Your cat's heat cycle is dependent on various factors, such as the breed, time of the year and, majorly, exposure to light. There are also various phases of a cat's heat cycle, which include the proestrus, estrus diestrus anestrus and interestrus phases. In each of these phases, your cat will display different behavioral signs and react differently.

Amy Granger
Amy is an editor from iPetor, owns a 4-year experience in writing tips and tutorial for users. As a pet owner, she will share more pets care methods and recommend more useful products for all pet owners.
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