Last Monday we learned about the heat cycles of dogs, today we learn about the heat cycles of cats.
The processes are as different as, well, cats and dogs.
Cats may be broadly grouped into seasonal cyclers and non-seasonal cyclers. Those who have heat cycles seasonally will tend to begin experiencing estrus in the late Fall and early Winter, with some individual cats extending their seasons into early Spring.
Non-seasonal cyclers may demonstrate estrus at any time during the year.
The heat cycle in cats is much less observable than that of dogs. There is typically little or no swelling of the external genitalia. There is no bleeding. Mammary tissue does not engorge unless the cat becomes pregnant.
That said, certain individual cats may become quite theatrical during estrus. They may exhibit lordosis, a position of bowing down in the front end and sticking the perineum into the air, with or without wagging of the tail. Some cats become extremely affectionate at this time and may rub on the owners to the point of annoyance. Vocality can be a part of the drama, as well.
Cats are induced ovulators, meaning that they will not move a mature egg from the ovary to the uterus until they mate. Clearly, this is a way for them to save as many ova as possible to maximize productivity. Copulation between cats can be vigorous in order to ensure sufficient physical activity to stimulate the female to pass her eggs.
Thus, when neighborhood cats are mating, you often hear a lot of noise. Some of that noise is tomcats fighting each other in order to establish dominance and win the affections of one or more females. However, some of the noise is the rowdiness that occurs when the male and female cat get together.
On the other hand, some theriogenologists, veterinarians who study the reproduction of animals, believe that simple rubbing and grooming by the owner may stimulate some cats to ovulate.
Cats who come into heat, but do not mate, will end their heat cycles for a time, usually a matter of weeks. Thereafter, the process starts again.