ABC-Animal - Health Chronicle

Your Pet’s Reproductive Cycle

In the spring, nature awakens. At this time of year, do you notice your cat or dog acting a little strangely? Here are the some facts about their sexuality.

In General
* Females (cats or dogs) can go into heat at any time of year but more frequently in spring and fall.
* Males (cats or dogs), do not have heat cycles and are always ready to respond the girls’ advances. When they sense the presence of a nearby female in heat, they become more frenetic.

The Female Dog’s Heat Cycle
* Female dogs usually go into heat twice a year.
* A heat cycle lasts about 18 days.
* Her vulva enlarges and there will be a little bleeding. This phase lasts approximately 9 days (Proestrus). She attracts the male but generally does not allow mating.
* When the bleeding ends, the real heat (Estrus) begins and lasts for about another 9 days. The first days are the most favourable for fertilization and at this point the female is very receptive to the male.
* The gestation period lasts approximately 63 days (2 months).

The Female Cat’s Cycle
* The cat has a different cycle.
* Like the dog, she has two heat cycles per year, except that the cat’s cycle is longer…it lasts approximately 2 months!
* During a heat cycle, the cat is in heat for close to a week, then she rests for about 10 days and it begins again.
* Bleeding is hardly ever observed.
* Mating provokes ovulation. The heat cycle ends and the gestation period begins.
* A few sleepless nights will confirm that your cat is definitely in heat.
* The gestation period lasts approximately 63 days (2 months).

Sexual Maturity and Sterilization
* Dogs and cats, whether male or female, reach sexual maturity at the age of about 7 or 8 months.
* Have your pet sterilized before it reaches sexual maturity, ideally between 4 and 6 months old, which will prevent a host of inconveniences and health problems.

A cat’s sexual cycle involves a number of nuisances, and because of overpopulation, many of these animals are euthinized because there is no one to care for them. It’s your responsibility. Think about it!

Alain Aspirault, D.V.M.
Ancienne-Lorette Vet Clinic
Québec, Canada