Estrus ("heat") is the mating period of female animals. When
estrus occurs, animals are said to be "in heat" or "in season." Cats
normally have their first estrous cycle between 5 and 10 months of
age, with the average age around 6 months.
The female cat has 2-4 estrous periods every year, each lasting
15-22 days. If she is bred, estrus seldom lasts more than 4 days.
If successful mating does not occur, estrus may last for 7-10 days
and recur at 15- to 21-day intervals. It is possible for an unmated
female to cycle every 3-4 weeks indefinitely.
Cats also have an estrous period 1-6 weeks after giving birth, so
a female may be nursing one litter while pregnant with another.
Since there is usually no obvious vaginal discharge or swelling of
the genitals during estrus in cats, as is seen in dogs, behavioral
changes are the only obvious signs that your cat is in estrus.
A cat in estrus carries her tail to one side, keeps her
hindquarters elevated, exhibits "treading" movements of the hind
legs, and seems unusually affectionate. She spends a good deal of
time rolling on the floor and seems much more restless than usual.
The cat's voice seems more piercing than usual and she may "call" for
1-2 days before she accepts the male.
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