As the weather starts to become a bit warmer and the days begin to lengthen, entire female cats start to come on call - this is also known as coming on heat or into season. Their behaviour can appear quite alarming to anyone that has not seen a cat on heat before and can be mistaken for an injury or illness such as urinary tract infections, a broken back or behavioural problem. If you are unsure if your cat is in season, your veterinary health care team will be happy to provide advice.
This is just another term for a cat being in oestrus or being receptive to being mated and becoming pregnant.
Oestrus begins when female cats reach puberty, which can be as early as 4 months right through to 10 months of age.
Exactly when a cat starts coming on heat is determined by a number of factors including: the days becoming longer (ie Spring/ Summer), the cat’s weight, age, general health and their breed. Although, it should be noted that cats can come on heat and produce kittens at any time of the year if the situation is right
Cats are known as a polyoestrus species. This means they can come on heat multiple times in a calendar year (compared to dogs that are dioestrous and only come on heat twice per year).
Female cats will generally continue to come on heat until they are mated and become pregnant. Oestrus lasts for 7 to 10 days and there are 3 possible outcomes:
The signs of oestrus are mainly behavioural and can include:
Some cats are known as 'silent callers' and may display none of the above signs.
A litter of kittens can be a wonderful experience if you are well informed and prepared. Children especially can learn a great deal from the experience of caring for the mother cat and the kittens.
Some things to consider are:
Please contact your veterinarian for information about breeding your cat, her nutritional requirements during her pregnancy and lactation. They will be able to discuss what the possible risks with her particular pregnancy may be and how best to avoid them.
When kittens reach around 8 to 12 weeks old, it is time for them to find a new loving home, ideally someone who will adore them as much as you do. Here are some tips for achieving this.
Spaying is a surgical procedure that removes the ovaries and the uterus in female cats, meaning that they are no longer able to come on heat and become pregnant.
Apart from the prevention of unwanted kittens, spaying also has a number of medical benefits for your cat. These include preventing an inflammation of the uterus (metritis) or infection in the uterus (pyometra), mammary gland tumours and other neoplasm of the reproductive system and ovarian cysts.
Many people decide to get their female cat desexed as they are concerned about her getting out when she is on heat. Not only is there a risk of her getting pregnant, but there is also a very high risk of her getting hit by a car or getting injured as her only focus is on finding a male to mate with.
There are many things to consider when deciding whether to breed or desex your female cat (Queen). Please feel free to contact your veterinarian or veterinary nurse to discuss any queries that you may have.
 "Compendium of Animal Reproduction” Intervet International 1995