You will probably be searching online furiously for an answer to the question of how long is a cat in heat after just one hour of your cat being in this peculiar condition. It's not a pleasant situation for you or your cat to deal with, but it is a part of nature. Your first choice may be to buy some earplugs and lock your cat in a room, but that's not going to solve the problem in the long term. There are a few things you need to understand about why cats go into heat, for how long, how often, and how it can be stopped permanently.
A Cat in Heat
Starting at about five months of age, female cats mature sexually and start to go into periods of heat. Heat, which is officially called "oestrus" is a stretch of time when the female cat will start to behave strangely because she is primed for mating. This is the time during the reproductive cycle when the female cat is most fertile and is very likely to conceive children. During heat the cat will be desperate to come in contact with a male cat so that she can be "satisfied." In other words, the only way she will be able to fall out of heat is if she becomes pregnant (or if she is spayed).
Things to Look Out For
It is very obvious when your female cat is in heat (also called "calling"). She will become extremely annoying and will disrupt your normal life routine by harassing you constantly. She'll come up to you out of nowhere and stick her tail up in the air, asking for affection from you. The calling cat will follow you just about everywhere you go, mark you and other items with the pheromones in her face, and scratch furiously to get outside. Other signs may include a clear discharge from the cat's bottom, a strangely positioned tail (to the side) and loud meowing that could be noisy enough to wake the neighbors. As you can see, you have to do something about this behavior, because it cannot be corrected with admonishment or training. It is not healthy to let your cat go in and out of heat constantly. She can develop serious medical issues and infections. Don't ignore this behavior - you have to do something about it (more about your choices later).
It is also not recommended that you let a cat in heat outside because she could come upon a male cat that has contagious medical issues. Beware, because she's very desperate and will probably hide next to the door, waiting for her opportunity to bolt outside and out of your reach.
How Long Is a Cat in Heat?
A cat will stay in heat for about seven to 10 days, which can seem like an eternity. Cats normally fall in and out of heat from January into August (about eight months), but it really depends on the season. Cats are more likely to mate during warm months. This is because if the mother cat lives in the wild, the kittens will need time to grow and get healthy before encountering cold weather.
The calling (also called "caterwauling") might get to a point where you just want to buy your cat a muzzle. But you should not be angry with your cat. This is a part of her natural instincts. She is only meeting the requirements of what her body was designed to do - mate and bear children.
Right after a cat is satisfied and pregnant, she will become loving, calm, and happy. It is sort of like a sigh of relief, because she no longer has to suffer through the agony of searching for a male to impregnate her.
The Mating Process and Pregnancy
When a cat in heat finally meets a virile, or what they call a "whole" (un-neutered) male cat the mating process is quick and to the point. The queen will place herself in a mating position, with her forearms down and her bottom up. As the male cat mounts the female cat, he will bite or restrain her, possibly as a way to get her to submit completely. The male cat's private parts are specially designed with hooks to stimulate ovulation.
Within two days after mating the female's eggs will become fertilized and the queen will officially be pregnant within a little over a week. It is actually possible for a female cat to become pregnant by several different male cats at once since the period of heat can last over a week. This is why many litters result in widely differing colors of kittens - they may all have different fathers.
Tired of Your Cat Being in Heat?
There are only two ways to end a cat's heat:
So if you are still contemplating the question of how long is a cat in heat, the answer will really depend on you and/or the cat.
If you choose to allow your calling female cat to become pregnant, you should be fully prepared for the responsibilities that come with taking on several new kittens in your home (or have a secure, happy home ready for them). A healthy female cat will bear about five kittens per litter. You may want to make an arrangement with the owner of a male cat to mate the cats. But keep in mind that this is only a short term solution. Once your queen gives birth, which is usually after about two months, she will go right back into heat after a short while.
If you can't handle a litter of new kittens in your home or you want a permanent solution to a cat in heat, you have to take your female cat into a vet immediately to be spayed. It is a common surgery where the cat's female organs will be removed so that she will no longer have the urge to procreate or search for males to mate with. Your cat can be spayed while she is calling, though the cost may be higher.