Symptoms of a female cat in heat

Symptoms of a female cat in heat, as we talked in our previous article, may not give you a guaranteed answer whether your cat is in season or not; however, the symptomatic approach is mostly considered accurate enough to evaluate if your cat is in heat.

alley cats in heat, feline sex
Responsiveness to mating is usually a definite sign for a cat being in heat. Photo: david_shankbone, CC BY 2.0

IMPORTANT: any symptom described here can be a sign of something else. Please consult your veterinarian if in doubt.

Primary signs of cat in heat are mild

During the first phase proestrus, which usually lasts for one to two days, primary signs of the cat in heat may be as follows:

  • enlargement and wetting of vulva – it’s usually the first sign of a cat coming in heat. However, unlike in dogs, this is not always apparent or even visible to a naked eye.
  • restlessness  is the most common and apparent primary sign of heat in cats.
  • excessive vocalization may also be present, but its not pronounced… yet.
  • increased appetite is also one of prime signs for cat in heat, but it can have other reasons as well, like boredom, stress or medical issues.
  • urine marking may be exhibited in some female cats to announce their presence.

But the signs get worse as the heat progresses

As the heat progresses (within 1 to 2 days since the beginning) signs usually become worse, as well as some additional signs appear:

Cat exhibiting one of the most common signs of heat
Screaming is one of the most common, and most feared sign of the heat in cats. Photo: Mingo Hagen, CC BY 2.0
  • vocalization increases;
  • cat becomes responsive to males. If you have male cats, they will also show interest in her. They will try to bite in her neck and jump on her. And, yes, even neutered male cats do this;
  • attention seeking from owners and other pets, she may rug against you or wave through your legs EVEN if you do not carry a food bowl;
  • hip swinging as the cat walks;
  • crawling and rolling on the floor, and literally appearing to act crazy similarly like cats do when presented catnip or Valerian;
  • treading of hind legs as you scratch her lower back. She may also murmur and flag her tail to the side and crouch. This method is a common test to determine whether your cat is responsive.

Usually symptoms of cat in heat lower after 4 to 10 days or in some cases, if a cat is not mated, a bit later. At the end of the heat, female cat refuses to mate and may even get aggressive if a male is approaching or trying to mate her.

Since signs described above, especially vocalization, may cause trouble for most female cat owners, you can read our next article which will help you to calm your cat in heat, as a part of our series about cats in heat, tomorrow.