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Heat (Estrus) Cycle in Cats

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Estrus

The second stage is the period of sexual receptivity. It is what breeders refer to as heat and lasts four to six days. The queen begins to make more noise and her meows are louder and more frequent-eventually becoming almost constant. There is an obvious change in her behavior: She becomes much more affectionate toward people, weaves in and out of their legs, rubs against them, shakes her pelvis, and rolls about on the floor. If picked up when rolling, she may grab at your arm or even bite.

As the urge to mate becomes pronounced, her cries become alarming-sounding like those of an animal in pain. This call attracts toms from near and far.

Young cats having their first heat have been described by unknowing owners as “rabid,” due to the dramatic changes in behavior. It is at this time that many families decide spaying is a good option.

To determine if your queen is receptive to mating, hold her by the scruff of the neck and stroke her down the back toward the base of her tail. If she is in estrus, she will raise her hindquarters, move her tail to the side, and tread up and down with her hind feet.

This estrus period generally lasts 4 to 10 days.

Interestrus

The third stage lasts 7 to 14 days. During this stage, the queen refuses to mate and aggressively rejects the male if mating is attempted.

What happens during interestrus depends on what happened during estrus: If a mating did not occur, the queen will remain in interestrus for 7 to 14 days and then start a new cycle beginning with proestrus and proceeding to estrus. If sexual intercourse induced ovulation but the queen did not conceive, she will enter a period of pseudopregnancy lasting approximately 36 days. If sexual intercourse resulted in a pregnancy, her kittens will be delivered in about 63 days.

Anestrus

The fourth stage of the estrus cycle is reproductive rest. In the northern hemisphere, this is a 90-day period from November through January. This term may also be used for older female cats who no longer cycle.

WebMD Veterinary Reference from "Cat Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook"

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