Whether you're hoping to breed your prize-winning feline or you simply want to prevent an unplanned pregnancy and an unwanted litter of kittens from coming into the world, it's good to be able to recognize the behaviors that indicate your pet is in heat. Below you'll find the six most typical signs to watch for.
How Cats in Heat Behave
The hormonal changes that occur when a cat comes into heat, aka estrus, can have a powerful affect on your pet's behavior. The heat cycle tends to affect some cats more than others, but all females will display signs to some degree. Since the average heat cycle lasts seven to ten days, and cats come into heat multiple times each year, the behavior associated with the cycle can become a bit overwhelming. Watch for the following signs to tell if your own cat may be in heat.
One of the earliest behaviors you may notice is that your cat suddenly becomes eerily affectionate. She'll weave her way around your ankles and rub up against them as she purrs loudly for your attention.
Rubbing Against Furniture
In addition to rubbing up against you, you may also notice your pet rubbing herself against your furniture, particularly with her hindquarters. She's trying to leave her scent around to entice eligible males for breeding.
Most females in estrus begin calling out loudly and do so with irritating frequency. Your own cat may even continue wailing into the night in search of a mate. Unless she mates successfully during this time, she will continue calling until her heat subsides.
Assuming a Mating Position
Once in estrus, your cat may frequently assume the mating position. This consists of her placing her head down with her forelegs bent, and raising her hindquarters and tail. This elevation of her rear makes her vulva accessible for any willing male.
In the most extreme cases, some females may even start spraying their home with strong smelling urine. This behavior is meant to advertise their heat to any available males that might pass by.
Some females even go as far as to change their defecation habits and begin pooping in places other than their litter box. Think of this as another calling card the female leaves behind for any interested males she hopes to attract with her scent.
Demonstration of Heat Behavior
The following video offers a very typical view of how a cat behaves when she's in heat. The first section shows the female assuming the breeding position, while the rest of the video shows the animal's increasing frustration as she searches for a mate.
If your cat's behavior becomes more than you can bear when she's in heat and you have no intention of breeding her, it's time to consider having her spayed. Web MD.com supports the updated view that cats should be spayed as soon as possible, as young as eight weeks if the kitten weighs at least two pounds. According to University of California School of Veterinary Medicine, kittens spayed before six months old do not run any higher risk of developing physical or behavioral problems than cats that are spayed at a later age. Of course, you can certainly wait until your cat is older, but spaying is still an option that you can discuss with your vet.