Symptoms of Cats in Heat

Cats in heat display a wide range of symptoms that indicate they are ready to mate. Recognizing these signs helps you take the necessary measures to prevent an unwanted pregnancy.

A female cat reaches sexual maturity between the age of 4 to 12 months, depending on the breed and other environmental factors. After reaching sexual maturity, a cat can enter a heat cycle. Also known as oestrus, the heat cycle can last for 7 to 10 days.

Affectionate Behavior

Prior to having her heat cycle, your cat will be extremely affectionate. Her behavior will be different than before and she will ask more often to be petted and played with. She will also rub her face against walls, her toys, other cats, furniture or legs of your family or visitors. A cat in heat will frequently roll on the floor, expecting to be petted.

Loud Meowing

Your cat will be extremely vocal. She will be meowing, especially during nighttime, and this is a signal meant to attract the male cats in the area. The meowing is a signal of her sexual availability. You may notice that your cat’s meowing is in a different tone than usual, being sharper and even irritating. The meowing will be discontinued if the cat manages to mate.

Licking of Genitals

When in heat, a female cat will spend a lot of time licking her genital area.

If you see no other symptoms that your pet is in heat, this can signal a urinary disease such as an infection of the urinary tract or cystitis. In this case, the cat tries to alleviate the pain by licking, so you need to visit the vet.

Assuming the Mating Position

During oestrus, your cat will often assume the mating position with bent front legs and elevated tail; she may also simulate mating moves, by rhythmically bending her legs. Your cat may also carry her tail on one side.


Even though tom cats are known to use spraying to mark their territory, female cats can also spray on walls, different places in the house or outside while in heat. The urine has a powerful scent and contains pheromones that are meant to attract a male cats and let them know about the female cat’s availability.

An indoor cat will spend more time outside when in heat, so as to be able to mate.

If you recognize any of these symptoms and you would like to prevent an unwanted pregnancy, you need to keep your cat indoors or schedule a neutering procedure. However, the spaying procedure may be more difficult when the cat is in heat, so the vet might advise you to wait until it's over.

A cat that is not fertilized will have her heat cycles more often, at a frequency of 2 to 3 weeks for numerous months per year, and the cycles will only stop if your pet gets pregnant or is spayed.

A cat that has had frequent heat cycles and hasn’t been bred is more susceptible to reproductive organ cancers. Spaying reduces the risks of uterine and ovarian cancers, and it has a lot of other benefits for the health of your cat.