How often cats go in heat?

Calculating cat's cycling frequency

Could menstruation calendar be a way to track how often cats go in heat? Nope… Image © samiola –

As the heat cycle ends, most cat owners feel a magnificent relief. But is it gonna last for you? So, let’s talk about how often do cats go in heat.

Heat cycles in cats are bit more complicated than in dogs. You see, cat is a seasonal long day breeder, which means they can go in heat only if the day is longer than the night. Basically this means – cats don’t go in heat during winter.

For now, it happens that cats have mating season ,which occurs once a year, and within that, they have repetitive heat cycles:

  1. Heat cycles occur with an interval of 14 to 21 days within mating season;
  2. Mating season normally lasts 6 months, but can be as long as 9 months;

There are, however, exceptions. Some cats do come in heat all year round, which is more common in shorthaired cats. Also, an artificial lighting can have an impact on the mating season of cats.

Heat cycle does not last for 14 to 21 days in all cats. Sometimes there can be medical conditions which can influence it, but most commonly, it’s mating which causes ovulation and breaks the heat cycle in cats. Also, some cats may show significant signs of being in heat during the whole mating season.

Ovulation will influence how often cats go in heat

Let’s talk about what happens if a cat does mate. Additionally to cats being seasonal breeders, cats are also induced ovulators. Basically it means, cats don’t ovulate, unless they have sex.

Why is this important? Because ovulation will break the heat cycle. Then, there are two alternative scenarios:

  • First, the queen becomes pregnant.This is pretty straightforward. Pregnancy in cats lasts for 63 to 69 days and the cat will come in heat no sooner than several weeks after the birth. In most cases it happens closer to six to eight weeks after it.
  • Second scenario is, the queen does not become pregnant, but she still ovulates. This can happen due to mating not being successful, or because she ovulated not because of mating, but it was induced mechanically in a veterinary setup.

In the latter case, the queen will go in the state of diestrus, also termed as false pregnancy. Unlike false pregnancy in dogs, cats rarely show other symptoms of true pregnancy except increased appetite, weight gain and swelling of teats.

You can find more information about false pregnancy in cats here. False pregnancy usually lasts for 35 to 40 days, after which the queen returns back to normal cycling.

This article is a part of our series about female cats in heat. In the next article you will find out why most female cats don’t go in heat during winter. And why many indoor cats do. No, it’s not related to temperature.