As we all know, cute little kittens don’t happen by immaculate catception – and it doesn’t take much living before your sweet little bundle of fluff is eligible to become a mother. If you have a female kitty approaching six months or older and she has not been spayed, her lady time is looming. Brace yourself for the first fertile period of her reproductive cycle, commonly referred to as "heat."


When Does Heat Happen?

Most female cats go into heat around six to ten months of age, but some breeds, like the Siamese and Burmese, can go into heat as early as four months. During adolescence, your cat will experience a surge in estrogen that will cause her to go into heat for about 7-10 days, and the cycle will repeat every 2-3 weeks—though, depending on where you live, your cat may stop going into heat during the shorter days of winter due to reduced quantity of natural light.

When she is in heat, your cat's hormones will completely change how she behaves. If it seems like she’s acting unusual and just isn't quite herself, it could be because she's experiencing heat symptoms. Look for these seven telltale signs.


What are the Signs Your Cat is in Heat

1. Affectionate behavior
Your cat may actually like you more. She’ll be more affectionate, rubbing against you, the dining room chair and everything else in your house while purring loudly.

2. Aggressive behavior
Your cat may actually like you even less. She may roll around on the floor and grab or bite you if you go near her.

3. Posturing
You may notice her posing differently, holding her tail straight up and raising her rear.

4. She won’t say it, she’ll spray it
While her tail’s up there, take cover. She may spray urine. Couch protectors, anyone?

5. Visible body changes
As her genitals become swollen, she may be licking them much more frequently and secreting a bloody vaginal discharge.

6. Alarming vocals
Her sweet little meow may turn into more of a blood-curdling yowl. Try not to be too disturbed – she’s just calling all the boys to the yard.

See other potential causes of excessive meowing.

7. Escape planning
She’ll spend more time pacing the windowsills and trying to sneak out the door behind you to rendezvous with the toms now prowling your yard.

 

How to Keep Your Cool During Heat
If you determine your cat is indeed in heat, generally the best thing you can do for her is to treat her with patience and affection – and keep her indoors! Get to know her moods so that you can identify and understand her behavior while she’s in heat. Consult your vet if she becomes difficult or dangerous. If she remains unspayed, chances are extremely likely that she will find a way to become pregnant. Definitely spay your cat unless you want to care for a new litter. And be aware: an unspayed cat can bear three litters a year and as many as 3,500 descendants over her lifetime! That’s quite the dynasty.

Have other questions about caring for your cat? Learn more about behavior and training, as well as general cat health tips.