Do Cats Have Periods?

You may be wondering, do cats have periods? The answer is yes! But it is generally referred to as "in heat" or more scientifically known as "estrus." The first time a female cat experiences this is generally around six months of age. However, unlike their human counterparts, female felines or "queens" will experience significantly different symptoms.

Let's explore the heat cycle of the female cat.

What is Heat or Estrus?

When a cat goes into heat the process is preparing her body to be impregnated. There is no "set" time as to when a cat will go into heat. It can occur anywhere from four months up to a year. The age of when estrus in a cat starts will greatly depend on how quickly the feline matures and the health of the cat. Undernourished animals or those with other health issues may have a delay in the beginning of their estrus cycle.

Once a cat starts her "period" she will go in and out of estrus every two to three weeks. This will continue to happen until she becomes pregnant or is spayed.

Signs of Estrus in Cats

A queen in heat will exhibit many tell-tale signs of this condition; however vaginal bleeding is not one of them. In fact, if your cat is bleeding during her cycle, it's recommended that you bring her to a veterinarian for a thoroughly check up. Bleeding could be a sign of other illnesses or that your cat is miscarrying the kittens.

Typical signs of estrus in female cats are;

  • Excessive and loud meowing and yowling
  • Extreme restlessness
  • Breeding body posture of crouched in front with back end lifted into the air
  • Overly "affectionate" behavior
  • Urine spraying
  • Irritability and/or hostile behaviors

Stages of Estrus in Female Cats

There are four stages of estrus in cats. These are proestrus, estrus, inter-estrus, and anestrus.

Stage One - Proestrus

This first stage of estrus can last from 1 to 2 days. Unaltered male cats will show an interest in her, but she will not show any in the males. You may notice during this phase that her vulva is a bit swollen and moist and her appetite may be increasing. Your queen may also be restless.

Stage Two - Estrus

This stage of your cat's cycle will be very obvious as she is ready to mate during this four to ten day period. She will be very vocal and overly affectionate to all she meets. This may include rubbing and rolling on the floor/ground. If you are planning to breed your queen this is the time for it to happen. If you are not wanting kittens, you will have to keep your cat securely in your home and away from unaltered male felines.

Stage Three - Inter-estrus

This stage can last from one to two weeks. Your queen will refuse any attempts made upon her to mate and may even do so with aggression. If she was not impregnated she could start another cycle after the one to two week period. This is also the time that she could have a false pregnancy which could last up to two months.

Stage Four - Anestrus

This last stage of your cat's heat cycle is the rest phase where her reproductive system is back to normal. This is the time to get her spayed to prevent unwanted kittens and to stop the heat cycle altogether.

The Mating Season

If your queen is not altered she can go through several heat cycles during the mating season. Each season differs from region to region as mating is directly reflected on the amount of daylight (at least 12 hours) temperatures and the presence of other cats.

During this time your cat may not never completely come out of her estrus. Her hormones could wax and wane until she is bred or spayed.

Spay Your Cat to Stay Away From Estrus

Unless you are an accredited breeder, there's really no reason to let your cat go through the heat cycle. There are too many unwanted and homeless kittens in shelters all over the world, so do the responsible thing and have your cat spayed.

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