Your female cat, Lily, is acting a bit odd. She’s been rubbing against the chair, the couch, the dog and even your leg. She’s rolling on the floor, lifting her hindquarters when scratched or rubbed and trying to get outside every time the door opens. Lily is even becoming more vocal, almost yowling at times. What is going on? Well, Lily is starting her first heat cycle.
What to expect
When Lily goes into heat, she’ll usually be 80% of her adult size. Most female shorthaired cats start their first heat cycle at about six months. However, some cats will go into heat at four months, Siamese cats are well-known for going into heat early, but long-haired cats may not go into heat until eighteen months.
The heat cycle is called the estrus cycle. Daylight is what stimulates the cycle with twelve hours of daylight is what activates it. Female cats are classified as seasonally polyestrous, and it means that Lily is going to have multiple heat cycles when the breeding season starts.
If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, then the prime breeding season is from March to October. So, unless Lily is spayed or bred, then she will go through a cycle every fourteen to twenty-one days through March into September and even October.
The heat cycle broken down:
There will be four stages to Lily’s heat cycle, and you may wonder how you are going to make through it. It may also influence your decision on whether she will be spayed before her next heat cycle comes around.
- Proestrus: This is the first stage of a cat’s heat cycle. It only lasts about a day or two, and at this time, Lily may seem to be restless. Or, she may appear to be overly affectionate, and her meow could change.
- Estrus: This is the real heat period when Lily can become pregnant. Lily, ideally though, shouldn’t be bred until she’s at least a year old. This would allow her to become full grown before becoming pregnant. When Lily is in the estrus cycle for four to six days, her behavior will become unusual. Her meowing will become louder and almost non-stop, almost yowling, day and night.
Lily may also become very affectionate or bite or claw when she’s picked up. She could roll over on her back while meowing with her back end raised and treading her hind paws. Lily won’t show a bloody discharge as dogs do in heat, so changes in her behavior could mean she has hit puberty.
- Interestrus: Lily will stay in this stage for seven to fourteen days then go back to the stage of Proestrus. Breeding or attempted breeding will force Lily back out of heat. If she isn’t pregnant, a false pregnancy lasts about five weeks, and Lily will then go back into heat. If she’s pregnant, she’ll be a mother in about 63 days.
- Anestrus: This is when Lily’s reproductive system goes back to normal, and Lily returns to being herself.
Spaying your cat is probably the better choice before she goes into heat. If you don’t, then have her spayed, unless she’s being bred, as soon as the cycle is completed.