When your cat is in heat, it means she is in the reproductive phase of her cycle and actively seeking a mate. This can occur several times a year, and you may notice your feline displaying unusual behaviors during these periods. But have you ever wondered if male cats mate with females who aren’t in heat? Well, male cats are eager to mate year-round. Unfortunately for them, there is little to no chance that a female who isn’t in heat will allow them to mate.
Cats typically experience their first heat at around 6-12 months old. If they are not spayed, they will continue to come into heat every year. A male cat cannot mount a female who is not in heat unless she is open to mating, but the likelihood of that happening is essentially zero. In most cases, female cats will fiercely resist any efforts by the male to approach her until he leaves.
Recognizing the signs of heat will help you plan for your cat’s spay appointment or count down to the next day. It’s pretty easy to realize when a cat is in heat because they commonly exhibit the following behaviors:
1. Increased Affection: Cats in season can be more affectionate with their owners. They love to be petted, scratched, and stroked, especially on their rear and back. So, if your feline could be in heat if they are more cuddly and loving than usual.
2. Increased Vocalization: A cat’s vocalization tends to increase significantly during the heat cycle. They will meow, yowl, and cry frequently and loudly in order to attract male cats.
3. Menstruation and Spraying Urine: Another indication that your cat is in season and ready for mating is that she is spraying urine. She might also bleed a little during the heat.
4. Raising Their Hindquarters in the Air: If your cat raises their butt and wiggles it slightly, she may be looking for a mate.
5. Rubbing Their Face on You and Household Items: Cats rub their faces on objects to spread their scent, similar to when they spray. So, if you see your cat rubbing on your clothes, sofas, or floor, maybe they are just trying to spread their scent widely in an effort to attract a mate.
On the other hand, some cats have a condition known as “silent heat.” A cat who is low on the social hierarchy is more likely to display silent heat. They don’t exhibit any of the heat-related behaviors mentioned above, although they are fertile.
Male cats that have reached full maturity (commonly 6–12 months) can mate with female cats whenever she allows them to do so. When a queen is ready to mate, she will show a unique posture: forelegs bent, chest down, rear quarters raised, and tail sticking out to one side to expose the vulva. Cats only take a minute or two to mate, and they may do it multiple times in a short period. During the heat, queens might mate with numerous male cats, making it possible for a litter of kittens to have different fathers.
A cat can’t get pregnant every time she mates. However, mating will lead to ovulation, and her eggs could get fertilized. After mating, ovulation typically occurs between 20 and 50 hours later, and the eggs are only viable (capable of fertilization) for roughly a day. Then they travel through the uterine horn to the uterus, where they will spend the next 10 to 12 days implanting in the uterine lining.
Sadly, thousands of kittens are born from household pets, community (feral) cats, and stray cats residing on the streets every single day. These felines can become pregnant as young as 4 months old, giving birth to more cats and perpetuating the cycle. As a result, there are far too many animals compared to the number of available homes. That’s why people in the community put in a lot of effort to decrease cat overpopulation and ensure a happy ending for all felines.
Heat-related behaviors can be troublesome for cat parents, as well as lead to accidental pregnancies. It’s best to spay your cat, preferably before her first heat cycle, which can start as early as 4 months after birth. Spaying has many additional benefits for your cat, like improving long-term health, lowering the risk of mammary cancer by 91%, and removing the chance of the potentially fatal pyometra uterine infection. Generally, the surgery is uncomplicated, and your cat will recover quickly with proper care.
If you can’t afford to spay your cats now, or it will be several weeks before your next appointment with the vet, isolating them would be the best thing to do. Intact male and female cats must be physically kept apart if you don’t want them to mate. Your vet may give your female cat an injection called Delvosteron, a hormone that suppresses the heat cycle and is produced by progesterone. The reduction in heat lasts, on average, 5 months after the injection. While it is active, your cat will not become pregnant nor exhibit heat signs.
In conclusion, male cats are capable and eager to mate with females year-round, but there is little to no chance of them doing so with a female who isn’t in heat and not interested in mating. It’s best to spay your cat unless you plan on breeding her. Doing so not only keeps cat numbers under control but will also prevent many health conditions and enhance their overall health.