Why Does My Cat Go Into Heat Every Other Week?

What is a Cat’s Heat Cycle?

A cat’s heat cycle, also known as the estrous cycle, refers to the reproductive cycle that female cats undergo when they are sexually mature. During this cycle, the female cat’s reproductive organs prepare for pregnancy.

There are four stages in a typical feline heat cycle:

  • Proestrus – This stage lasts 1-2 days. The female cat’s reproductive tract begins preparing for pregnancy but she does not allow mating yet.
  • Estrus – This stage lasts 4-10 days. The female cat is receptive to mating with male cats and ovulation occurs during this stage.
  • Metestrus – This stage lasts 30-40 days if the cat is not pregnant. The female cat’s reproductive system returns to its normal state.
  • Anestrus – This rest stage lasts 2-3 weeks. The female cat’s reproductive system is inactive during this time.

An average feline heat cycle lasts around 50 days in total, although this can vary from cat to cat. Intact female cats go into heat multiple times per year during the breeding season, which is usually spring and summer.


[1] https://www.companionsspayandneuter.com/cat-heat-cycle

When Do Cats Reach Sexual Maturity?

Cats typically reach sexual maturity between 4-10 months of age, with most cats becoming sexually mature at around 6-7 months old (1). However, the exact age can vary quite a bit depending on factors like breed, nutrition, and season (2). For example, Oriental breeds may go into heat as early as 4 months, while Maine Coon cats often don’t reach sexual maturity until 9-10 months or even later.

There are also differences between male and female cats. Females generally reach sexual maturity earlier than males, with most females experiencing their first heat cycle between 6-8 months of age. Males tend to hit puberty a few months later, usually between 9-12 months old (3).

So while every cat is different, most domestic cats become sexually mature in the 6-9 month range. It’s important to get cats spayed or neutered before their first heat cycle to prevent unwanted litters of kittens.


(1) https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/estrus-cycles-in-cats

(2) https://www.zooplus.co.uk/magazine/cat/cat-adoption/cats-during-puberty-when-cats-become-adults

(3) https://www.cats.org.uk/help-and-advice/pregnancy-and-kitten-care/cat-reproduction

How Often Do Cats Go Into Heat?

Typically, cats become sexually mature and go into heat for the first time between 6 and 10 months of age. Once a cat reaches sexual maturity, they will go into heat frequently. Cats are seasonally polyestrus, which means their heat cycles are seasonal and they go into heat multiple times during breeding seasons.

During the breeding season, cats can go into heat as often as every 2-3 weeks. The breeding season often runs from springtime through late autumn. Cats experience more frequent heat cycles during these months when daylight hours are long. They tend to go into heat less often during the winter months when daylight is shorter. The number of daylight hours impacts hormone production and influences their heat cycles.

While cats can go into heat year-round, the average cat will go into heat about 2 to 3 times per year during peak breeding seasons. But if a cat goes into heat more frequently, such as every 1-2 weeks, there may be an underlying medical issue causing abnormally frequent heat cycles.

Why Might a Cat Go Into Heat More Frequently?

There are several potential reasons why a cat may go into heat more often than normal:

Hormonal Imbalances

One of the most common causes of frequent heat cycles in cats is a hormonal imbalance. Conditions like ovarian cysts can cause the ovaries to produce too much estrogen, triggering heat cycles every 1-2 weeks instead of every 2-3 weeks normally. Sometimes early spaying (before 6 months old) can also interfere with normal hormone development and lead to more frequent heats 1.

Stress and Anxiety

Stressful situations like changes in environment, new cats in the home, or insufficient stimulation can cause a cat’s heat cycle to become irregular. The hormones released when a cat is anxious may disrupt the normal estrous cycle. Providing environmental enrichment and minimizing stressors can help get heat cycles back on a normal schedule.

Medical Conditions

Certain medical conditions like hyperthyroidism, ovarian tumors, or uterine infections can also cause a cat to go into heat more frequently. Diagnostic testing like bloodwork, ultrasounds, and cultures may be needed to identify any underlying illness. Treating the medical condition often resolves irregular heat cycles.

If a cat is experiencing heat cycles more often than every 2-3 weeks, it’s important to consult a vet to determine the underlying cause and discuss treatment options. Tests, medication, or sometimes spaying may be recommended depending on the individual cat’s circumstances.

Health Risks of Frequent Heats

Frequent heat cycles in cats can pose some health risks that pet owners should be aware of. When a female cat goes into heat, her estrogen levels spike, which stimulates the ovaries to release eggs. This is a normal biological process, but when it occurs too often it can cause issues.

One concern with a cat having prolonged or frequent heat cycles is an increased risk for certain reproductive cancers. Pyometra, a uterine infection, is also more likely due to the constant fluctuation of hormones. The lining of the uterus thickens during heat in preparation for pregnancy. If pregnancy does not occur, the thickened lining must shed. Excessive buildup of uterine lining from frequent heats can allow bacterial infection to take hold more readily.

In addition, cats in heat tend to become more vocal with increased yowling and restless behaviors. This can lead to stress for both the cat and owner. It’s important to create a calm environment and give the cat more attention during this time.

If a female cat experiences prolonged heat cycles or goes into heat more than every 2-3 weeks on average, a veterinary exam is warranted to diagnose the cause. The earlier treatment can begin, the lower the risks. Frequent heats are not normal and often indicate an underlying issue like cysts or tumors affecting hormone regulation.

When to See the Vet

It’s advisable to see a veterinarian if your cat is experiencing heat cycles less than 2 weeks apart or if the heat cycles persist for longer than the typical 1-2 weeks (Estrous Cycles in Cats – VCA Animal Hospitals).

Going into heat too frequently or for prolonged periods can indicate an underlying health issue that requires veterinary attention. Some conditions that may cause this include:

  • Ovarian cysts
  • Pyometra (uterine infection)
  • Uterine hyperplasia
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Pituitary gland disorders

It’s recommended to have your vet run tests like bloodwork, urinalysis, ultrasound, and hormone tests to diagnose the cause if your cat is experiencing frequent or prolonged heat cycles. The treatment will depend on the underlying condition causing it.

Frequent heats can take a toll on a cat’s health. It’s important to get veterinary advice to protect their wellbeing and prevent complications.

Tests and Diagnosis for Frequent Heating

If a cat is experiencing frequent or prolonged heat cycles, a veterinarian will run several tests to try to determine the underlying cause. An initial examination includes taking the cat’s full medical history and performing a thorough physical exam. The vet will ask about the cat’s age, reproductive status, heat cycle history, and any changes in behavior or appetite.

Standard diagnostic tests typically include:

  • Bloodwork – Checking hormone levels, kidney/liver function, blood cell counts, and more. This can reveal issues like ovarian cysts, thyroid problems, or infections leading to frequent heats.
  • Vaginal cytology – Microscopic examination of vaginal cells to assess if the cat is in heat and changes in cells over the cycle. This helps identify abnormalities.
  • Ultrasound – Allows visual examination of the reproductive organs to check for issues like ovarian cysts, inflammation, or uterine disease.
  • X-rays – Can reveal issues like uterine inflammation, cysts, or uterine hyperplasia.

The results of the exam, medical history, and diagnostic testing will allow the vet to pinpoint the likely cause of prolonged or excessive heat cycles in the cat. From there, they can advise on appropriate treatment options.

Treatment Options

There are several options for treating a cat that goes into heat too frequently:


The most definitive treatment is to have the cat spayed (ovariohysterectomy). This surgical procedure removes the ovaries and uterus, eliminating the ability for the cat to go into heat. While completely effective, there are some cons to consider:

  • Spaying is irreversible – the cat can never be bred after this surgery.
  • As with any surgery, there are risks of complications from anesthesia and infection.
  • The surgery and recovery period are stressful for the cat.

Hormone Therapy

Veterinarians may prescribe hormone therapy like oral contraceptives or injections of progesterone to suppress heat cycles. While less invasive than surgery, hormone therapy has drawbacks:

  • It must be continued long-term to keep working.
  • There can be side effects from artificial hormones.
  • It is less effective than spaying.

Discuss the options with your veterinarian to determine the best solution for your cat’s situation.[1]

Caring for a Cat in Frequent Heat

A cat in frequent heat cycles can become stressed, anxious, and vocalize more than usual. Here are some tips to help keep your cat comfortable during this time:

Provide plenty of playtime and exercise when your cat is not actively in heat. Exercise can help relieve frustration and burn off extra energy. Use interactive toys like feather wands that allow for vigorous play.

Consider using synthetic feline pheromones like Feliway to help create a calming environment. Pheromone diffusers mimic natural pheromones and can reduce stress behaviors.

Make sure your cat has access to her own quiet and comfortable space, like a spare room or cat tower, for when she needs alone time.

Gently brush or stroke your cat, which can relax her. But do not actively pet near the tail area, as this can encourage mating behaviors.

Speak to your vet about anti-anxiety medication if your cat is highly distressed. Medication can temporarily help ease heat symptoms.

Avoid any stressful changes to her routine or environment during this time. And deter any potential suitors like neighborhood cats from visiting.

See if your cat will tolerate wearing a cat diaper or onesie during heat periods to prevent soiling of your house from urine spraying and discharge.

Be sure she always has access to plenty of fresh water, food, and clean litter boxes, as cats in heat use the litter box more frequently.

With some extra care and patience during this demanding time, you can keep your frequently-cycling kitty as comfortable as possible.

When to Consider Spaying

Spaying a female cat is the only way to permanently stop her from going into heat. The surgery removes the ovaries and uterus, eliminating the production of hormones that drive the estrous cycle. There are several benefits to spaying your cat:

  • Stops the stress and behaviors associated with going into heat frequently
  • Eliminates the risk of certain reproductive cancers later in life
  • Prevents unwanted litters of kittens

The American Veterinary Medical Association recommends spaying before a cat reaches 5-6 months of age, which is typically before sexual maturity and their first heat cycle 1. However, spaying an older cat or even one in heat can still be done safely. Discuss the ideal timing with your vet based on your cat’s age, breed, and overall health. Delaying spaying until after the first heat cycle allows cats to reach full maturity, which may be preferable for some large breed cats prone to orthopedic issues. But waiting too long increases risks during surgery and the chances of mammary cancer later in life.

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