More than 42 million American homes have at least one cat. As with most female mammals, cats go through heat cycles to prepare for fertilization and birth.
For humans, we call this menstruation. But for cats, we call it estrous. However, the cat heat cycle is quite different from a human’s period.
If you want to learn more about cat heat symptoms, including do cats bleed when in heat, then keep reading.
Do Cats Have a Period?
The answer to this may already seem obvious since cats have a heat cycle. But it’s important to establish that while cats have a period, it’s not the same as a human’s period.
We often interchangeably use the words menstrual cycle, period, and heat cycle. But the fact is, menstrual periods look different between species.
A cat’s estrous cycle usually begins around six months. Each cycle has several stages. They are:
- Metestrus (or Diestrus)
The estrus stage is when the cat is sexually receptive or in heat.
How Long Are Cat Heat Cycles?
Cats are polyestrous, which means they have several cycles during the breeding season. For some cats, the breeding season is all year.
However, geographical and environmental factors like temperature and daylight hours can shorten the breeding season. Many cats only breed during the spring or fall.
Heat usually lasts several days to a week. But if the cat did not mate during estrus, she would go out of heat for a short time. Then she will go back into heat. This can continue for a few weeks until she gets pregnant.
Because of this, it may seem like female cats are always in heat, which is why spaying is so important.
Eventually, the cat will enter the interestrus stage after not getting pregnant. Interestrus lasts a few weeks.
The metestrus stage will last about a month if the cat is not pregnant. Anestrus is a period of sexual and hormonal inactivity between estrus phases. It lasts around two or three months.
When Can Cats Get Pregnant?
Cats can get pregnant anytime they are in heat (estrus). Cats are induced ovulators, which is different from humans. Their bodies don’t release eggs on a set schedule (ovulation).
Instead, sex stimulates the release of eggs from the ovaries. Most cats require several mating sessions within 24-hours for ovulation to happen.
Additionally, a female cat may mate with several tomcats (unneutered male cats) in a short time, so its litter of kittens can have several different fathers. Pregnancy will last about nine weeks.
After ovulation, the female cat will go out of heat within one or two days.
Do Cats Bleed When in Heat?
Unlike humans, cats don’t shed the lining of their uterus. Thus, vaginal bleeding should not occur. Further, since cats don’t shed the uterine lining, they don’t experience cramps, bloating, or other physical symptoms.
However, light vaginal discharge is possible with trace amounts of blood.
But if your cat is bleeding more than this, contact your vet. It could be a sign of an internal medical condition like vaginitis or a urinary tract infection.
If your cat is already pregnant and is bleeding, she may be having a miscarriage. Regardless, set an appointment with the vet to determine the cause of the bleeding as it may be a severe sign of concern.
Is My Cat in Heat?
Even though you won’t see blood, you will notice significant behavioral changes when your cat is in heat. Some cat in heat symptoms include:
- Excess vocalization
- Rolling around
- Assuming mating position
- Loss of appetite
- Licking genitals
- Marking or spraying
- Trying to escape
Cats in heat become very affectionate and may even demand your attention. They will frequently rub up against their owners and objects.
If you scratch your cat’s rump at the base of the tail and she slides up, she is probably in heat. This motion invites a male cat to mate.
They may also become very vocal, which can irritate owners since it is loud and constant. They are trying to attract a male, after all.
Cat urine contains pheromones and hormones to attract males. So cats in heat will urinate more frequently and may mark objects.
They will also try to escape outside to find a mate, especially if you have tomcats living in the area. So make sure to keep your cat indoors to avoid pregnancy.
How To Manage a Cat in Heat
The symptoms mentioned are entirely typical, so you shouldn’t search for a cure when your cat is in heat.
We know a cat in heat can be challenging to live with. That’s why if your cat is in heat, there are ways to help keep her comfortable.
You can provide toys and pillows for her to shred. Also, play with her often as the stimulation will help her hyperactivity.
You can also make a nest with a warm heating pad. This gives her privacy and a cozy place to relax.
If she needs more help calming down, try to offer some catnip or special stress-relieving herbs for cats. You can find these at your local pet or health foods store.
Avoid Heat Symptoms by Spaying Your Cat
Even better than managing a cat in heat, opt to spay your cat. Veterinarians recommend spaying female cats before their first cycle, at around six months of age.
You will be doing your cat and yourself a great service by following this advice.
There aren’t any scientific reasons to let your cat go into heat or get pregnant.
Since cats can get pregnant during their first cycle, not spaying your cat can easily lead to an unwanted litter and further the problem of overpopulation.
As a responsible cat owner, ensure you schedule her spay procedure early, so no one has to suffer through the symptoms of a cat in heat.
Learn More About Cats
When asked do cats bleed when in heat, the clear answer is no. Human and cat menstrual cycles are entirely different, as discussed here.
To learn more about all things cats, head over to the Cat section of this blog. You’ll find plenty of valuable information there for cat owners.