Chicks ducks Extras Hens Protecting Your Backyard Birds raising happy, healthy chickens Roosters

Can You Mix Ducks with Chickens

Chickens are often the first bird homesteaders will tackle before raising other livestock. They cite practical reasons: food, composting, and pest control. Since ducks are some of the smartest and hardiest, they debut on the farm after chickens. But before getting any birds, I’ll answer the question Can you mix ducks with chickens.

You can, in fact, raise chickens and ducks together. However, there are some slight differences with both kinds of birds. And, with careful consideration, you should have no problem mixing both. So, whether or not you’ve purchased any ducks, just continue reading.

Brooding Facts for Both Ducklings and Chicks

Recently I wrote an in-depth article explaining how to raise ducklings and chicks together. So I’m only going to list the main points.

  • Provide the same feed for both
chick feed in a shallow dish with chicks in a brooder

Contrary to popular belief, you can give medicated feed to ducklings, as I explained a short while ago. But no matter what, by the 3rd week, make sure the protein is no more than 18%, or your ducklings will be at risk for something called Angel’s Wing. And provide niacin in the form of brewer’s yeast, so the ducklings can thrive. (This needs to be provided lifelong in the duck’s diet.)

Also, regular chick fountains and nipple waterers work well with ducklings. However, shallow pans for feed are ideal due to their bills.

  • Similar brooder temperature for both

There is only a 5° difference between both birds when starting the brooding process. Therefore, just observe them to see whether they are cold or hot. If they huddle together, they’re cold. And if they move as far away as they can from the heat, then they are hot. And adjust accordingly.

  • Clean brooder daily

Both ducklings (and ducks) drink as they eat to prevent choking. And this causes a big mess in the brooder that needs to be cleaned on a daily, sometimes several times a day, basis.

  • Harassment
digital art of brown duck making fun of dark brown chicken on black background
Digital Art, Courtesy of Sarah Smith

Depending on the number and breed of chicks and ducklings you have, could determine who does the bullying and who gets bullied. In my experience, our chicks have always done the bullying until they were juveniles. But by then, the ducks were much larger, thus the roles were reversed.

It’s definitely simpler to raise chickens and ducks on their own. However it’s not unrealistic to raise them together.

Teenager Ducks and Chickens

juvenile mixed flock of ducks and chickens

At this stage of development, your ducks and chickens are going through puberty. You know, their voices crack and they look fugly. In addition, you might notice your ducks bullying the chickens they once hung out with. But by the time they’re all adults, this behavior generally stops.

The 3 ducks we recently raised with our juvenile chickens bullied their brooder buddies. And they even tried to bully one of our cats. But that only lasted until the 2 juvie drakes were sold to someone in need of them, so the lone female no longer feels the need to bully. Thus, it’s the other way around again. Plus, when we raised Squirt, the boss drake, he was raised alone by me. Therefore, he really didn’t bully anyone, and no one bullied him. I’m still constantly learning about ducks. And I know I don’t know all there is to know about them.

Advice for Smooth Desegregation

Depending on the time of year and temperature will determine when you move your newbies outside. For instance, if it’s spring and still chilly out, then wait till the chicks are ~ 5-6 weeks old. However, if it’s summer and hot in the evenings, like it’s been lately, you don’t necessarily need a heat lamp. But still wait for the chicks to get to 5-6 weeks old for size. Then you need to

  • Check your coop space

Ducks need twice as much space as chickens do. And if your chickens use a ramp to get in the coop, you might need to come up with something so the ducks can get in too.

Also, ducks don’t use nesting boxes. Therefore, just put some straw on the floor of the coop, and they’re fine.

  • Circulate the air in the coop

You likely already have your coop well ventilated with your existing flock. However, since ducks emit ~ 90% moisture, there needs to be adequate circulation in the form of predator-proof windows and air exhaust vents on the roof.

  • Gradually mix your new ducks and chickens with the established flock

Put your juvenile mixed birds in a pen where they and your primary flock can see each other without aggression for a few days to a week.

  • Provide water
kiddie pool with ice in the shade
This picture shows ice in the pool; and that’s due to the triple digit heat lately.

This source of water is different from the drinking water. Though you will see both the chickens and ducks drinking from it. But if you don’t provide this water source for the ducks to bathe and preen their feathers, they can develop wet feather.

Mixing Adult Ducks and Chickens

Up to this point I’ve covered the basics from brooding ducklings and chicks together to integrating the juveniles with the adults. From the time the ducks are adults, they no longer hang out with the chickens they were raised with. Unless they happen to be eating, sharing snacks, or drinking together. Or unless you have a species-confused duck, like me.

Now it’s time to go over some final important details.

  • Continue to supply the same type of feed for ALL backyard birds

Once the ducks and chickens you raised are adults, they can eat layer feed like everyone else. And continue adding 1 TBSP brewer’s yeast to 1 cup of feed.

  • Carry on with same feeders and waterers

Since your duck-raised chickens are used to eating out of a shallow pan, continue that with the newbies. However, with your established flock, you can try keeping the technique you’ve been using. Though, if they start eating the newbies’ food, you may need to just switch everyone to the new method. And the same goes for their waterers.

  • Provide a watering hole
a couple of chickens and ducks mixed in with kiddie pools outside under a big shade tree

This is one of the most important points, because ducks not only love water, they need it. And not just drinking water either. They need access to a source of water to swim and bathe in. But again, it doesn’t need to be custom. You can just purchase a kiddie pool, and they will be content.

Also, when ducks swim, they poo; and they drink from this water source as well. And the chickens might too. So it needs to be changed at least twice daily.

At about this point, you might be wondering if chickens will drown in the kiddie pool. And the answer is debatable. Sure, chickens can’t swim like ducks. Plus, their feathers aren’t waterproof, and they lack webbed feet. But since they don’t like water the way ducks do, they usually only approach the watering hole to drink. From the time we’ve had our ducks and kiddie pool, no chickens have drowned. Though chicks should definitely be monitored.

Can You Mix Roosters and Drakes

black rooster stops by mixed mallard drake outside by a tree
In this picture, it looks like the 2 males are sharing a moment.

Given both roosters and drakes can be territorial, it’s only natural to wonder if you can have both at the same time. I usually only keep 2 adult roosters at any time. And they’ve never had a problem with the drake, whichever one I had, even when it was the sex-crazed Kirishima.

But it’s true that drakes might try to mate with hens. And this is usually the case when there aren’t enough females for the drakes. Just as there is a proper ratio for hens to roosters, there’s a proper ratio for ducks to drakes. Proper in this sense maintains harmony in the flock.

Therefore, to prevent abuse to your hens and ducks, and any fighting between roosters and drakes, provide enough females for both. You will find various recommendations on this subject. But I advise you to err on the side of caution, especially regarding mating season and drakes. Each rooster needs ~ 10-12 hens, while drakes require ~ 3-6 ducks each. You know what they say? The more the merrier.

What About Flock Dynamics

mixed flock of ducks and chickens outside near 2 kiddie pools under shade tree

Now that you’ve hypothetically (or realistically) integrated ducks into your flock, has the pecking order changed? Did you notice whether the ducklings, then juvenile ducks had a hierarchy remotely similar to the chickens?

Most duck lovers agree, me included, that ducks have a pecking order. Though it’s way laid back compared to chickens: they may chase, peck at (in their own way), or quack at someone. But usually the group doesn’t gang up on that someone, like chickens do.

In addition, the boss in each group is the male. But if there are 2 roosters, it is generally the senior rooster, unless he is weaker or has been challenged and fallen from grace. Drakes are different. The senior drake is more concerned with mating, from what I’ve observed, and so that influences most things. We had 2 juvenile drakes recently and Squirt ignored them; he’s only interested in the females. However, I’m happy to report, he hasn’t killed any ducks, unlike his predecessor. And the juvenile drakes, from what I observed, were just living life, being kids.

6 different types of ducks under a tree near a fence

Also, my roosters stay away from Squirt, although I’m not sure why. But then, they stay away from the ducks altogether; almost pretend like they’re not there. On the other hand, Squirt will get in Megatron’s face and yell at him only when Bakugo is flirting with him. Thankfully they haven’t come to blows yet.

So, Can You Mix Ducks with Chickens

While raising chicks and ducklings together can be difficult, it’s not theoretical. Plus, they form a unit until they become adults. And at that time they tend to stay with their own kind. Once adults, they might ignore one another, but they don’t squabble or fight each other. Furthermore, males of both groups are boss of the yard. However, if there was ever any contest, the drake would be the clear winner. Though it’s the duck’s callous disregard of the pecking order that makes one think they don’t even have one. But they do, in their own duck-ish way.

I sincerely hope I’ve answered any questions you might have had about mixing ducks with chickens. Do you currently have any ducks? Or are you thinking about adding any? Your comments are appreciated.

If you enjoyed this post, please like, share, and please don’t forget to follow!

Extras recipes

Egg Burritos

Egg burritos can be very diverse. You can make them with beans, pork, or chicken. And you can top them with a variety of choices. However this recipe is really quite simple. Although, you can spruce it up if you want to. But it tastes quite good on its own.

Ingredients for Egg Burritos

8 cracked eggs in metal bowl
  • 8 eggs
  • ~ 1/4 cup whipping cream
  • 6 La Tortilla Factory light flour tortillas
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • 2-3 tbsp salted butter
  • ~ 3-5 oz queso fresco cheese
  • 2-3 oz of guacamole

Instructions for Burritos

beaten eggs with spices and cream in a metal bowl and whisk
  • First, beat eggs in bowl; add whipping cream and beat some more. Then beat in salt and pepper.
  • Next, melt 1-2 tbsp of butter over medium heat. Add 1 tbsp more of butter just before pouring egg mixture.
  • Then scramble eggs till light and fluffy. Add cheese before eggs are completely done.
  • Remove pan from heat. And microwave the tortillas, and then assemble burritos; top with guacamole.
scrambled eggs and white cheese in a frying pan on stove

Thank you for reading this post. If you made this recipe, please let me know what you thought.

If you like this post, please like, share, and please don’t forget to follow!

Extras recipes

Instant Pot Hot Beef Sandwich Recipe

I don’t remember it being this hot for this long. And it’s times like these that my family and I get creative in the kitchen, so we don’t make the whole house oppressive. This instant pot hot beef sandwich recipe is great for days when you don’t want to use the oven or stove.

But originally, when I found the recipe at the library in OkC, it was supposed to be cooked in the oven. However I changed some things. Although, if you’re interested in the original, you can check it out here.

plastic ziplock bag of sliced onions and brown marinade

Hot Beef Sandwich Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 c water
  • 3/4 c each water and brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 sliced onion
  • 3 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1 (4lb) boneless chuck roast
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • and 2 pkgs of ciabatta rolls
top down view of beef browning in a pot

Instructions for Instant Pot Hot Beef Sandwiches:

  • First, combine first 7 ingredients in a resealable gallon size plastic bag. Then seal it, turning to coat, and refrigerate overnight.
  • Next, add the olive oil to your Instant Pot; and turn on the sauté function and press the beef or medium option. Further, add the chuck roast; sauté till browned on both sides. After, remove the beef and set aside.
  • Then add the marinade to deglaze the pot before continuing. It only takes a few minutes; maybe less.
  • Next, place the roast back in the Instant Pot; lock the lid and turn the steam release vent to ‘sealing’. In addition, using the manual setting, adjust it to cook ~ 1 hour on high pressure.
  • When the cook time is ended, let it to reduce pressure on its own for ~ 12 minutes. Then open the steam release vent, and remove the lid. But if it isn’t tender, put the lid back on, and pressure cook a little longer. ***
  • Finally, transfer meat to a large plate to shred or slice; and serve beef on ciabatta rolls with juice from the Instant Pot. And enjoy!

***Here’s a little note about Instant Pots and other electric pressure cookers: they’re all basically the same. However variations in quart model size, inner pot liner diameter, and also wattage affect cook times. Furthermore, elevation and personal preference influences cooking times as well. Since I have the bigger model Instant Pot, I had to cook mine on medium for an extra 30 minutes, and it was fine.

side view of beef sandwich on ciabatta roll on white plate

Please let me know if you made this in an Instant Pot; and if you did, what did you think? Did you make any changes or adjustments? Your comments are appreciated.

As always, if you enjoyed this post, please like, share, and please don’t forget to follow!

Chicks ducks Extras raising happy, healthy chickens

Raising Chicks and Ducklings Together

After having chickens for any length of time, it’s only natural to progress to another domestic bird. Moreover, it’s also reasonable to have questions about raising chicks and ducklings together. Unfortunately most websites discourage you from attempting it, saying there are too many differences. However raising both together isn’t impossible. And the two have more in common than not.

Most sites even claim you cannot incubate, hatch, and brood chicks and ducklings together. Although that is simply not true. It can be done, as others have done so. What’s more, I’ve also incubated, hatched and raised ducklings and chicks together a few times.

But it is a lot of work. Likewise you don’t have to raise them together. Unless you find yourself incubating some chicken eggs and end up getting some ducklings. In that case, you might want to read this.

Brooder Basics Between Ducklings and Chicks

Below you’ll find some key points when raising both ducklings and chicks together.

  • Feed is the same for both
red and white bag of medicated chick feed

First, you can feed either medicated or non-medicated chick starter to both birds, EXCEPT only give ducklings chick starter for 2-3 weeks. After that, switch to grower, unless your chick starter is only ~ 18% protein.

Yes, there used to be a time, long ago, when ducklings couldn’t have medicated feed. However that is no longer true. Read this article by the National Library of Medicine regarding the lack of adverse effects of medicated feed and ducks. Plus, it’s what I feed my ducklings, and they’ve never had a problem.

In addition to chick starter, you need to add niacin, because ducklings require 10mg of it to thrive and grow. And you can find it in brewer’s yeast. Just sprinkle ~ 1 TBSP per cup of feed. Further, it’s perfectly safe for chicks and chickens.

  • Feeders and fountains
yellow and white chick fountain in chick brooder with black chicks in background

Given the duck’s bill, provide chick starter in a shallow dish. Having water in a regular chick fountain works just fine. And Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine even found that nipple waterers worked ok.

  • Brooder temperature is similar for both

Managing the brooder temperature till both kinds of poultry are feathered out is comparable. Even though the beginning temperature for each is a 5° difference, it’s important to not lose sight of monitoring how the birds react to the temperature. If they huddle, they’re cold. But if they’re moving as far away from the heat source as possible, then they’re hot. It’s really quite simple to just watch them.

  • Clean brooder & change bedding daily
hardware cloth and wood brooder with chicks and fountain

In order to prevent choking, ducklings (and ducks) drink water as they eat. And it’s this combo that creates a daily mess in the brooder. A big, wet, stinky mess, sometimes several times a day, that, unless cleaned up on a regular basis, could compromise the health of the chicks. And it’s this that I consider the biggest hurdle to raising ducklings and chicks together.

  • Bullying
digital art of brown chick makes fun of yellow duckling on black background
Digital Art, Courtesy of Sarah Smith

Harassment by ducklings is another often mentioned reason not to raise chicks and ducklings together. Though, in my experience, chicks are just as likely to bully ducklings.

We have successfully brooded and thus, raised a few generations of chicks and ducklings together. And this is what seems to work for us. First, understand that the type of bird you raise more of usually has the advantage. So if you raise more chicks, they might dominate the ducklings, for a time. But if you raise more ducklings, then they might be the antagonizers.

Tips for Brooding Chicks and Ducklings Together

duckling on screen of brooder
This is a picture of one of the ducklings we’ve raised with our chicks this year; they’re all juveniles now.

When we got our first ducklings, we started small: we only got 3. And since ducks are naturally bigger, we’ve kept our duckling and duck numbers small. Plus, we’ve incubated and hatched most of our own ducklings with our chicks. Also, given that ducklings take an extra week to incubate, the chicks have a week to get bigger and sturdier.

However, before jumping into raising babies together, decide first if you can commit the course. Especially due to the fourth item on the list: cleaning up the mess.

Then, if you are, resolve to

  • check your brooder
empty gray plastic box
This empty Rubbermaid box is the first brooder we use when raising chicks, ducks, or a combination. However, as they grow, we move them to something much larger.

Ducklings need almost 179% more space than chicks. Though both their space requirements will double in a month. So make sure the brooder box will house them both comfortably, along with their feed and water.

  • either incubate or purchase chicks before any ducklings
3 newly hatched chicks huddling near a chick fountain

Considering that ducklings are bigger than chicks, plan on having the chicks for ~ 5-7 days before the ducklings. This will help them gain a little weight and not be so wobbly before the newbies arrive.

  • have at least three times as many chicks as ducklings
person holding 2 ducklings

By having more chicks than ducklings, this could make the chicks the aggressors. Although the ducklings will be able to handle it, because they’re bigger. Also, depending on the breed you pick out, will likely determine if the chicks will be aggressive. But this is true for ducklings as well. We have mostly Ameraucana chickens, while we have Pekin and Mallard ducks. And they’re all pretty laid back. Plus, once both hit the juvenile or teenage years, the roles reverse.

Additionally, never get a lone chick, chicken, duck, duckling, or any type of backyard bird. It will get bullied and most likely have a miserable life. Therefore, at least get 2 ducklings and 8 chicks, if you want to start small.

It certainly is easier to raise them separately. But it’s not impossible to do both together, especially if you follow these tips. And don’t forget to clean the brooder and change the bedding daily.

Juvenile Ducks and Chickens

mixed flock of juvenile ducks and chickens hiding in bushes outside
You can’t see them all, but you should be able to see some chickens and ducks in this photo.

When raising ducklings with chicks, once they’re teenagers, they become a flock. They stay together, and feed and water together. I wouldn’t say that they’re buddies. But they consider themselves a unit of some sort.

At this stage, you continue to keep their grower feed the same, whatever you get. And continue supplying brewer’s yeast, as well as how you supply the feed and water.

Tips for Peaceful Integration

Before moving your juvenile ducks and chickens in with your existing flock, there are some things you’ll need to take care of, such as

  • make sure you have space
enclosed space with chicken wire and wooden beams
We were maxed out on space, so my husband is adding on to our coop.

Despite the fact ducks can be housed in the same coop as chickens, they need twice as much space as the latter. So just be certain you have enough of it, but you don’t need to make or get anything extra for them. However, if your chickens use a ramp to get in at night, make sure it’s not too steep for the ducks.

In addition, ducks can’t roost. And they prefer sleeping out in the open. Therefore, it might be ideal for the ducks to nest in the run, away from roosting chickens.

  • have coop well ventilated

According to Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, ducks ingest and eliminate more h2o than chickens. And their poo is over 90% moisture. For that reason, the coop needs adequate ventilation. Again, nothing fancy: a couple of predator-proof windows and air exhaust vents on the roof.

  • slowly integrate ducks and chickens with the flock
Juvenile ducks and chickens outside interacting

Either when the juvenile birds are feathered out, or the ducks are 3-4 weeks old, it’s time to introduce the newbies to your existing flock. The ducks will nearly be adult size by then, but the juvenile chickens will still be small-ish. Though that’s ok, once again, depending on your breed(s) of chickens. Mine don’t bother the young ones until they look like adults. **If you live somewhere cold, just make sure the temperature is ~ 75°, since the ducks won’t be fully feathered at 3 weeks.

So put the newbies in a pen where the existing birds can observe them, as they please, for a few days. Then watch for any aggressive behavior as they mingle with limit. Usually there are some curious chickens or some looking for food. Otherwise they’re not too interested after the initial inspection.

  • Supply extra water

While the newbies are being gawked at by the establishment, have a source of water available for the ducks. But it can be as simple as a pan of water, depending on the number of ducks you have. However the important thing is that they can get in to clean and maintain their feathers. When everyone is finally incorporated together, you can get a kiddie pool.

In Summary

If you really want to raise chicks and ducklings together, it’s totally doable, since they can eat the same food, and eat and drink out of the same containers. You just have to add brewer’s yeast to their diet. Plus, they can be brooded similarly.

But the mess is real, and you have to be diligent to clean it daily. And there are definitely some breeds of ducks that are bullies. Therefore, if you’re still unsure, I recommend doing some more research, by clicking on any of the links highlighted in this post.

Do you have ducks, or do you want ducks? If you have them, what’s the easiest part of raising them? Your comments are appreciated.

If you enjoyed this post, please like, share, and please don’t forget to follow!

Extras recipes

Fourth of July Mini Cheesecakes

Last year we had a neighborhood party to celebrate our nation’s independence. But things are different this year. For one, it’s really hot. So I don’t want to be outside more than I have to. And for another, we have someone staying with us. However I still want to contribute. And one of my favorite ways to do so is with food. Therefore, please enjoy this recipe of Fourth of July mini cheesecakes.

Mini Cheesecakes Ingredients

12 pan muffin tin of mini cheesecakes
  • 1 1/2 c of graham graham crumbs
  • 1/8 c Truvia
  • 1/4 c melted butter
  • 24 oz softened cream cheese
  • 14 oz sweetened condensed milk
  • 3 eggs
  • and 2 tsps vanilla extract

Mini Cheesecakes Instructions

mini cheesecake topped with blueberries on a white plate
  • First, heat oven to 300°.
  • Next, combine the first 3 ingredients in a bowl; press equal amounts onto bottoms of 12 lightly greased muffin cups.
  • Then, in a large mixing bowl, beat cheese until fluffy.
  • Next, slowly mix in sweetened condensed milk until smooth.
  • After that, add eggs and vanilla, mixing well.
  • Then spoon equal amounts of mixture (~4 TBSP) into prepared cups.
  • And bake ~ 20 to 22 mins or until cakes spring back when lightly touched.
  • Cool for ~ 10 minutes on the counter; then chill in the refrigerator.
  • Before serving, garnish with fruit preserves or fresh berries. And enjoy!
mini cheesecake topped with blueberries on white plate

This is another recipe I got from the Great American Favorite Brand Name Cookbook. Although I made the cheesecakes a little bigger. Instead of making 24 mini cheesecakes, I made 12. Further, you’ll have some extra cheesecake mix. So just refrigerate the rest. Plus, the original recipe indicated there would be extra anyway. And keep any cheesecakes refrigerated until ready to eat.

Did you make this? Or do you have a favorite cheesecake recipe that you’d love to share? Your comments are appreciated.

If you enjoyed this post, please like, share, and please don’t forget to follow! Have a safe and happy 4th of July!

Extras recipes

Easy Recipe for Breakfast Burritos

One of my favorite meals of the day is breakfast. Especially on the weekends, because it doesn’t have to be rushed. And since we have chickens, you can imagine we make a lot of meals with eggs. You tend to get creative if you have backyard birds. However, we don’t go overboard. So below you’ll find an easy recipe for breakfast burritos.

Further, I made them differently than I usually do. Rather than topping them off with salsa and cheese, I sautéed fresh veggies. And that made them taste amazing. I hope you enjoy.

Ingredients for Easy Breakfast Burritos

sausage cooking in a copper pan
  • 6 La Tortilla Factory light flour tortillas
  • 8 eggs
  • ~ 1/4 cup whipping cream
  • 1/2 tsp salt, divided
  • 1/4 tsp pepper, divided
  • 1 bell pepper, sliced and de-seeded
  • 1 sliced onion
  • 1/2 cup cherub tomatoes, sliced in half
  • ~ 3 tbsp butter
  • and 8 oz breakfast sausage

Instructions for Easy Breakfast Burritos

scrambled eggs cooking in a pan
  • First, melt 1 tbsp butter in a frying pan over medium heat, and add sausage; cooking over medium heat. And use the back of a spoon to break it into smaller pieces.
  • Then, when the meat is mostly brown and only a little pink remains, add another tbsp butter to a second frying pan on medium heat.
  • Next, add onion, bell pepper, and divided salt and pepper. Then lower temperature to medium-low or low, and cover with a lid.
  • Beat eggs in a bowl; add whipping cream and beat some more. Then beat in salt and pepper.
  • Next, remove cooked sausage from first frying pan, and place in a bowl; cover. Then add last tbsp of butter to that frying pan, and pour egg mixture into already heated frying pan. And scramble eggs on medium heat.
  • When eggs are almost cooked through, add the tomatoes to the sautéed vegetables. Then, once the eggs are done, combine vegetables and sausage with the eggs.
  • Finally, soften your tortillas, and then assemble your breakfast burritos. Mine looked more like tacos. But that’s because they were so full.
scrambled eggs, sautéed vegetables, and sausage cooking in a frying pan

Thanks for taking the time to read this! If you made this recipe, tell me what you think. Do you make your own version of breakfast burritos? And if so, how do you cook them, or what toppings do you use?

If you enjoyed this post, please like, share, and please don’t forget to follow!

Extras non fowl

How to Tell if Your Cat is in Heat

Cats have their first reproductive, or heat cycle when they reach sexual maturity. And for some breeds that can be as early as 4 months old. While for others, that could be as late as 18 months. However the average age is typically ~ 6 months old. (Itty was 10 months old when she had her first heat.) And cats display some signs that they are in season, so you will notice them acting differently. Continue reading to find out how to tell if your cat is in heat and how you can help her.

9 month calendar on white background
Digital art, Courtesy Sarah Smith

Cats are seasonally polyestrous, which means they’ll have multiple heat cycles during breeding season. Thus, in the US, February through October is considered the perfect breeding season. Therefore, your cat will likely cycle every 14-21 days from February to October if they aren’t already spayed or pregnant.

But how long does a cycle last? Each heat cycle lasts several days. Also, if the queen, or intact female cat, is not mated during the heat cycle, then she’ll go out of heat. For example, when Itty had her first heat, it lasted about a week. Or so I thought, because 3 or 4 days later it returned with a vengeance.

Signs Your Cat is in Heat

  • She’s extremely vocal
colorful cat meowing on sofa in patio
Photo by Dids on

This is one of the signs many pet parents notice first. Whether it’s yowling, caterwauling, or meowing when there was barely a mew before, cats in heat make all kinds of new noises.

Take Itty, for example, who, 2 days before we realized she was in heat, started meowing at me in the middle of the night. Full on meowing, while most of the time she only has little mews, that don’t even qualify as meowing. I thought she wanted to play with me or needed something. Or just loved me. Then the other signs started showing up.

  • She’s more loving than the dog
woman cuddling her cat on the bed
Photo by Sam Lion on

The second clue your cat’s in heat is that she’s more loving than your dog, if you have one.

For instance, she lets you pet her, she rubs against you, and wants your attention and affection, whereas before maybe she was elusive. If your cat isn’t spayed, and she’s now extremely affectionate, it could just be she’s in heat.

  • Change in eating habits

She may eat less when she first starts her heat cycle than she was before. However she might return to her normal feeding schedule in time; that’s how it’s been for Itty.

  • A lot of floor action; ie, her tail and rear seem to always be up in the air. Plus, she rolls around on the floor more than she used to
an orange tabby cat rolling around in a cardboard box
Photo by Arina Krasnikova on

Female cats in the first position, called lordosis, are signaling that they are ready to mate. And by rolling on the floor, she’s releasing her pheromones all over the place. She’s just hoping it will catch some cat’s fancy.

  • Moving her hind end and treading her hind feet when her back is petted

At this stage of her heat cycle, she’s very receptive to being mated, and might try anything to achieve her ends.

calico cat treading her hind paws next to an Australian shepherd lying on the floor
  • Begging to go outside (if an indoor cat)
calico cat standing up looking out a window
She longs to go outside.

Or she’ll try to sneak out if you’re not careful. And you might even start seeing toms, or male cats, gathering around your home in search of your cat.

digital drawing of a black cat with labeled scent glands

Some queens will either urinate more often or spray urine on objects. Since cat urine contains both pheromones and hormones, this signals to other cats that they are in heat.

However this isn’t the only way that cats mark their territory; the other way is by scent rubbing against objects. (I’m thankful that Itty doesn’t spray.)

  • Another sign your cat is in heat is if she’s even more of a fastidious groomer than before
brown tabby cat grooming itself
Photo by Arina Krasnikova on

If you notice your fur baby grooming her lady bits round the clock, chances are pretty high that she’s in heat.

  • And the last sign your cat is in heat, is that she flirts with your other pet(s)
calico cat on floor while Australian Shepherd licks her
This is an action shot, so unfortunately you don’t really get the effect. But I assure you, Itty started it.

Rather than just reserving all of her lovey dovey behavior for you, your cat may treat the dog or rabbit the same way; maybe even more so. You’ve caught them almost having inter-species relations! (Gasp!)

That’s what Itty does with Sophie, in spite of the dog’s protests.

What You can do for Your Cat

kids on a bed playing with white cat
Photo by cottonbro on

Even though they make a lot of noise and act like they’re suffering, the feline cycle is different to human women. Typically cats in heat don’t bleed; that’s because they reabsorb the uterine lining instead of bleeding it out. And experts believe cats in heat aren’t in pain when they make all their racket; it’s just their mating calls.

Although, what you can do is have a heating pad out for your cat, and see if she uses it. Itty didn’t use ours. But the trick that always seems to help her is when I play with her. And she’s good at trying to distract herself too.

Also, definitely keep your cat away from male cats if you don’t want her to get pregnant. And

  • try giving your fur baby some catnip
  • use Feliway or other cat pheromones throughout your home
  • and keep the litter box(es) clean

If your cat isn’t spayed and she hasn’t had her first heat cycle, talk to your vet about the best time to get her spayed. Some sites claim that veterinarians can still perform the surgery even while cats are in heat. However, just because they can do something doesn’t mean they will. For instance, we had to postpone Itty’s spay until mid-summer to see whether her heat cycle is waning. It should be a lot better than when it first started. But we’ll see.

Assuming you have a cat, did you get her spayed before she started her heat cycle? Or did you wait until she already started it? If you waited, did she have any or all of the signs I listed? Alternatively, did she exhibit extra ones? Your comments are appreciated.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. And if you enjoyed it, please like, share, and don’t forget to follow!

Extras recipes

Frittata Recipe for Father’s Day

Today is the day we honor fathers: the men in our lives who have loved us, given themselves, and shared their lives with us. So, in whatever way you honor those in your life, here’s a frittata recipe for Father’s Day.

broccoli, bell peppers, and mushrooms in a bowl

Since both utilize eggs, frittatas are similar to quiche. However frittatas are made without a crust. And they are Italian, whereas quiche is French.

Originally I got this recipe from Great American Favorite Brand Name Cookbook, publication 1993. But I changed a few things.

egg mixture with seasonings in a large orange bowl

Ingredients for Frittata for Father’s Day:

  • 2 cups broccoli florets
  • 1 cup each, sliced mushrooms and sliced bell pepper
  • 4 green onions, sliced
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 16 eggs
  • 1/2 cup dijon mustard
  • 1/2 c heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 2 cups Parmesan cheese
egg mixture covering vegetables in square copper pan on stove

Instructions for Frittata:

  • First, in a 4.5 quart ovenproof pan, cook vegetables in butter over medium heat for ~ 5 minutes. Then remove from heat.
  • Next, in a medium to large bowl, beat the next 4 ingredients with an electric mixer at medium speed until foamy; stir in cheese. Then pour over vegetables in the pan.
  • And bake at 375° for 40-45 minutes or until set.
  • Finally, serve immediately.
serving of frittata with vegetables on a white plate

Do you have any special plans for Father’s Day? Your comments are appreciated.

All animals Extras

Who Keeps the Pet in a Breakup

Let’s face it, we pet parents are attached to our pets. Maybe they remind us of little kids in some ways? They’re small, cute, and seem needy. And since nearly 70% of US families have at least one fur or feather baby, perhaps they agree with me. But if those adult, romantic relationships go south, then who keeps the pet in a breakup?

365 Pet Insurance polled over 1500 American pet parents in January 2022 to answer that question. They wanted to discover how we handle our pets in a breakup or divorce. However this isn’t a new issue.

For example, in 2013, a lower court judge agreed to a hearing regarding a miniature dachshund in the midst of a couple’s divorce. The reason for the hearing, the judge explained,

“Although Joey the miniature dachshund is not a human being and cannot be treated as such, he is decidedly more than a piece of property.”

The Detroit News

Evolution of the Family Pet

selective focus of an orange tabby cat
Photo by Nandhu Kumar on

Ancient Egyptians were the first to keep cats as pets, recognizing their abilities as mousers. But, in Europe, cats didn’t get popular with the wealthy until the 1700s. And then, by the 1800s, all of the social classes started adopting cats. Also, cats made the journey when the Americas were discovered. Although, they were only viewed as valuable assets to protect the food.

But by the mid-19th century, in the US, the ASPCA formed, followed by the first anti-cruelty laws. And cat stardom only continued with works by artists such as Louis Wain.

girl and puppy sitting on green grass surrounded with plants during daytime
Photo by Leah Kelley on

In 1897, the US Supreme Court ruled that citizen-owned dogs were personal property. Though at the time, people only kept dogs to make money. However that changed, because our society became more urbanized. So eventually dogs became man’s best friend.

And lastly, keeping backyard birds became a movement during both World Wars, when it was Americans’ patriotic duty to keep chickens. Unfortunately, after World War II, many backyard chicken farms dissolved. Since ~ 2000 going forward, backyard chicken keeping is regarded more as a hobby. Further, there are so many sites and blogs dedicated to chicken keeping, that you know the authors view their birds as pets.

Pets as Family

two people with rings on ring fingers and a dog paw on top of their hands
Photo by Anastasiya Lobanovskaya on

As our societies transformed, so too have our pets. Or rather how we view them. We no longer need them to work alongside us as our property, or even for us. Though that doesn’t mean your cats won’t bring you something they caught. Or that your chickens won’t lay eggs. However, it means that we keep our pets for the emotional bonds we share with them.

According to a study in 2015, 95% of those surveyed thought of their pets as family members. But, given the Pandemic, SIP and/or stay-at-home orders, inflation, food scarcity, and resultant uncertainties, the percentage could be even higher now. So it’s no wonder that when couples split up, their pets are often caught in the crossfire.

Some Results of the Survey

woman brushing her pet cat
Photo by cottonbro on

Among the respondents surveyed with 365 Pet Insurance, only 19% have won a pet custody battle, while 12% have lost custody of their pets. Of those who won, most were women. In addition, 55% of participants feel that pet custody should be treated similar to child custody arrangements between divorcing parents.

Regarding a hypothetical split-up, the majority of respondents indicated they would rather share custody of their pets. Also hypothetically, in the event of a split-up, the majority of participants would prefer losing everything, friends and material goods, compared to losing their pets.

Pet Custody

map of the US with 6 states colored in red
Digital art, courtesy of Sarah Smith

Currently there are six states that have laws on pet custody, whereas Rhode Island has pending legislation. Furthermore, both Texas and Alaska have made visitation schedules between previous spouses. Though the majority of states still regard pets as property.

And disgruntled, hurt, and angry former partners or spouses oftentimes take their frustration out on their pet by trying to take the pet away from the other pet parent. Therefore, that person is not only hurting their former partner, but they’re hurting their pet as well.

When determining pet custody or even “property”, depending on where you live, the courts rely upon sales or adoption records, AKC records, veterinary and vaccination records, and insurance.

  • Who purchased or adopted the pet?
  • Who registered the pet?
  • Whose name is on the vaccination and medical records?
  • Who micro-chipped the pet?
  • And who took out insurance on the pet?

Check this site out for more details on what courts will look at to establish pet custody. And for complete results of the survey, go here.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. Have you ever had a custody battle over one of your pets? Your comments are appreciated. And if you enjoyed this post, please like, share, and please don’t forget to follow!

Extras recipes

Recipe for Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are one of my most favorite vegetables to eat and cook. They’re both healthy and delicious. And they can be cooked in a variety of ways. Although, often times, I can just eat a plain sweet potato, this recipe for mashed sweet potatoes is a family favorite.

I use half-n-half instead of milk, which makes it creamier. Also, you don’t have to be limited to serve mashed sweet potatoes just during the holiday season. You can serve it year round.

Mashed Sweet Potatoes Ingredients:

pot of cubed sweet potatoes
  • 3.5 -4 lbs of peeled and cubed sweet potatoes
  • 4 – 5 TBSP brown sugar
  • 4 TBSP salted butter
  • 1/3 – 1/2 c half-n-half
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon

Mashed Sweet Potatoes Instructions:

pot of boiling cubed sweet potatoes
  • First, put the potatoes in a pot of salted water; and bring to a boil.
  • Next, boil the cut up potatoes till tender, ~ 20 minutes. Then drain in a colander.
  • Put the drained potatoes in a medium-large or large mixing bowl. And add the sugar, butter, salt and pepper, and cinnamon to bowl; then using a hand mixer, beat in cream a little add a time, for desired consistency.
  • Finally, serve with lamb, turkey, roasted chicken, or glazed ham.
lamb chop with sauce, spinach, and mashed sweet potatoes on a white plate

As you can see, this is a very basic recipe. But you could make your own unique changes, and serve any time you want to. How do you cook sweet potatoes? Do you mash them, bake them, or make them into French fries? Your comments are appreciated.

If you enjoyed this post, please like, share, and please don’t forget to follow!