Most animals have mating seasons. That’s when they have their strongest, prettiest, and smartest selves on show. The need to procreate is clearly worth the effort.
Female bears have a short mating season of around a month, usually in mid-summer. Female elephants have an even shorter heat cycle, lasting for about three weeks, which starts at the end of the rainy season. Female cats are a very different story.
Cats seem to be constantly in heat. That’s why you might be wondering: do cats go into heat in the winter?
The answer is yes and no. Domestic cats could be encouraged by the favorable indoor conditions of warmth, abundant food, and safe shelter. Wild cats, on the other hand, know better than that. They’d prefer to bring their kittens to the world when they could feed them well and take care of them.
Read on for the full details of the dramatic mating behaviors of cats.
What Exactly Is A Cat Heat Cycle
Mammal females, in general, are more receptive to sex when their bodies are ready to conceive a child. That’s around the time when they ovulate.
Cats follow the same biological principle, but they embellish a bit more. A cat’s heat cycle is more stretched out, and more frequent. If you’re a cat owner, you’d get the feeling that your cat is constantly good-to-go.
Cats often start showing signs of being in heat when they’re around 6 months to 12 months. A young cat of only 4 months could start meowing, acting coy, and scratching at the doors to show its readiness. The cat would go into around a week of heat every two weeks.
Any male cat hearing these calls, smelling the pheromones, and watching all the signals, would most probably dash in and start procreating. This chance encounter could be just a hot date, or, you might end up with a young litter of four cute little kittens.
A few weeks after the delivery, the cat would be ready again for action.
The exact structure of the cat’s heat cycle is quite interesting. The cycle can be subdivided into five different phases:
The cat would act differently in each one of these phases. This is the perfect example of how animals are optimized for survival. The heat or ‘Estrus’ phase is the one with the very distinct behavioral changes. That’s when the cat needs to find a mate and seal the deal.
Why Do Heat Cycles Exist In Cats
Biology is full of patterns and cycles. From the uneventful life cycle or a fruit fly to the dramatic migration of Salmon fish. Cats follow the same ticking clock that signals the best times to conceive.
A litter of kittens that arrives in summer or spring would have some privileges over its winter peers. The following are the most important perks of a summer birth.
- The weather is mellow, so the baby cats wouldn’t feel too cold.
- The food would be abundant, because of the spring and summer nature boom!
- The mother would hunt with ease.
- The days are longer, providing enough light to forage for food.
- Finding shelter is easy when there’s no wind, rain, or snow.
The opposite happens with the less-fortunate winter kitties. It should be noted that this is truer for wild cats than it is for domestic ones.
How Are Domestic Cats Different From Wild Cats
- Domestic cats don’t need to look for food.
- They already have a shelter.
- There’s plenty of exposure to light.
- They could already have a mate, or there could be a mate next door.
- Domestic cats have no real threats.
The Aristo cats here have it easy compared to the Tomcats that hustle hard in the real world.
Wild cats have much sharper instincts, but that doesn’t mean that domestic cats are completely spoiled by city life. They still feel the ticking of the biological clock and seem a bit calmer during winter.
So Can Household Cats Go Into Heat In The Winter
If the housecat feels secure enough, warm enough, and enjoys extended hours under the artificial lights of the chandelier, then it could easily feel a bit of heat. It might not be the same urge that you’d see in summer or spring though.
A special event could crank up the heat a few notches though. The presence of an eligible male. If the cat senses the advances of a male nearby, it could easily throw caution to the wind and show total approval.
The Bottom Line
If you’re looking for answers to the question: do cats go into heat in the winter? Then we can assume that your cat is unspayed. We would go even further as to guess that there’s a healthy male cat nearby that could consummate the relationship even in the cold winter.
The answer is yes, that could happen. However, it’s not too likely.