April 2008 Issue

The Cat in Heat

The signs to look for, and what to expect.

The yowls of a cat in heat are unmistakable. When a female cat needs to mate, you should expect incessant crying, strange posturing and constant attempts to escape outdoors to waiting males. The best thing you can do about your cat in heat is to prevent it from happening in the first place. Itís a smart idea to have her neutered before her first heat cycle. However, sometimes thatís not possible. So if youíve never experienced a cat going into heat, hereís what you should know. The fertile period of your catís reproductive cycle is called estrus, more commonly referred to as "being in heat." Sexual maturity starts when a female (the queen) is quite young ó about six months old. In some cases, it can be as young as four months. Early estrus can often catch uninformed human companions by surprise when they find out their kitten is having kittens. "Shorthair cats typically come into heat sooner than longhair cats," says Jane E. Brunt, DVM, of The Cat Hospital at Towson in Baltimore, MD. And indoor cats may come into heat a little later.

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