Cat heat symptoms

Signs of cat in heat.

The expression "cat in heat" is used by owners to describe the summation of pro-oestrus and oestrus. There is no specific lay terminology fot the rest of the oestrus cycle of the queen. The cat heat symptoms are quite easy to notice. High demand for affection, spending excessive time licking genitals and loud vocalizing are the most common signs of a cat in heat (queen).

Under normal climatic conditions queens are seasonally poly-oestrus. However, under modern housing conditions queens frequently cycle throughout the year. The sequence of events is pro-oestrus followed by oestrus and metoestrus. The queen then goes into a short period of sexual inactivity (dioestrus). This cycle of events is repeated until the end of the breeding season. The last metoestrus of the breeding season is followed by a longer period of sexual inactivity (anoestrus, the non-breeding season) that lasts until the first pro-oestrus of the next period of sexual activity.

On average, domestic cats reach puberty by 6-9 months of age. Sexual activity of free ranging cats is photoperiod-dependant, thus the onset of puberty may be influenced by the time of year that the queen was born with puberty occurring at around 6 months of age (range 5-7 months).

The onset and duration of ovarian activity is linked closely to day length. Ovulation is not spontaneous. It is induced naturally by mating or artificially by stimulation of the genitals and cervix or by hormone administration. However, it may also be induced by proximity to other female cats. The stages of the oestrus cycle cannot be identified using vaginal cytology in the queen.

Pro-oestrus may follow soon after parturition or may be preceded by a period of anoestrus. Queens can become pregnant again whilst still suckling a litter of kittens. The interval between the birth of a litter and the subsequent heat period is variable, but is usually within 4-8 weeks. The interval is dependent on the age at which litters are weaned and, in cats with a non-breeding season, the time of the year when kittens are born. In the Northern Hemisphere, queens cycle between January (irrespective of climatic conditions) and September with peaks of sexual activity in late January/February, May and June, and occasionally in September. Anoestrus generally lasts from late September to late January.