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Cats in Season

02 May 2016
The sun is out, the skies are blue and the daffodils are blooming; spring is well and truly here, but for cat owners whose queens are unspayed, the coming of spring was prob-ably announced in a different way – with high-pitched ‘calling,’ urine spraying and more affection than usual.

Generally speaking, the feline heat cycle begins in March and lasts through to September. A female cat that is un-spayed will usually be in heat every 2-3 weeks throughout the season, unless she successfully mates and becomes preg-nant. Cats enter heat several times a year with a typical cycle lasting 4-6 days at a time. It is usually fairly obvious when a cat is in heat although some cats, known as ‘silent callers,’ do not show signs of it.

A cat in heat will act differently and may become more affectionate with humans and other house pets, si-dling up and rubbing her hindquarters on objects and furniture. She may also rub against the floor, adopting the lordosis position with her rear held high and her forelimbs lowered. Her rear limbs may ‘tread’ as if walk-ing on the spot and her tail will move to the side. To mark her territory and let tomcats know she is in heat, a queen will urine mark.

You will also notice your cat becoming more vocal as queens call to lure male cats during the cycle. Excessive licking of the genital area is also a sign that your cat is in heat, although this can also signal different problems so in the absence of other symptoms, it is best to get it checked out. Bloody discharge, loss of appetite and general restlessness are also signs that your queen is in heat, although not all cats will display all symptoms.

It is well known that vets think female cats should be spayed, not only to avoid uncomfortable heat cycles but to prevent certain serious diseases such as mammary cancer, as well as pregnancy, which only contributes to the problem of cat overpopulation. Cats that are spayed do not enter heat and thus will not keep you awake at night yowl-ing, or destroy your home and furniture with urine marking. They are also better protected against a number of feline viral diseases that can be contracted through mating with unknown male cats, including feline leukaemia.

Over a 9 year period, an unspayed queen and her offspring are capable of producing 11 million more cats. Given the number of cats that are handed in to shelters it is irresponsi-ble to allow your female cat to have litters when in sea-son. Getting her spayed before her first heat cycle is recommended.