Like most female mammals, cats undergo physical changes in their bodies after a certain point of time. These changes prepare the cat for fertilization and make them receptive to take up male seeds. They become ready to give birth to babies after the cycle. Cats breed well in most climates and have increased in exponential numbers in the US. A lot of these cats go into cat shelters which are now overflowing from felines.
This is the reason why most vets advise cat owners to get their cats spayed or neutered at an early age. All female cats naturally undergo a menstrual cycle which is called estrus. But what if your cat is already in the heat? You might be worried about how your cat reacts in such a situation.
There are many anecdotal sayings about cats in heat like they become too thirsty and aggressive. How true is that? Then many owners are worried if their cats would bleed and what to do in such a situation. We will discuss and answer all these questions in this article. You will also get to know the benefits of spaying and how to calm a cat in heat.
Do cats have Periods?
One question that most new cat parents ask is “do cats have periods?” Some people ask this out of curiosity while there are others whose cats are bleeding. To say it plainly, cats do have periods. But their periods are significantly different from those in humans. Female humans and similar mammals like bats, mouse and elephant shrew have menstrual cycles every 28 to 38 days.
They shed their uterine lining after every cycle, which results in bleeding. Then there are other female mammals like cats who do have their periods but don’t actually bleed much. They reabsorb the womb lining, according to BBC Discover Wildlife. The reproductive process of these animals is called “heat”. An unspayed cat undergoes periods or heat every month in the breeding period.
How often does a female cat come into heat?
Felines are polyestrous breeders which means they undergo heat many times a year. This process goes on until your cat is spayed or becomes pregnant. If you don’t want your cat to breed and attack other animals, you need to keep her inside the house.
The cat remains in heat for several days, sometimes even lasting for two weeks. That is the reason why your cat seems in heat so often. Your cat’s periods will start after adolescence and will be marked a surge in estrogen levels. The heat cycle will repeat itself every two-three weeks.
The ideal breeding season for your cat is summer and spring. According to experts, cats go into sexual stimulation when the sun is out for at least 10 hours a day. Exposure to sunlight supports breeding in cats and even exposure to constant artificial light can activate hormones in cats. That’s why spaying seems the only option to control breeding in cats.
Cats go into heat even after giving birth to kittens. Typically a cat gives birth in 65 days from fertilization. The cat will go back into heat anywhere between one week to one month after giving birth. Since the breeding period of cats depends upon the climate, cats who live in tropical regions or indoors may cycle through the year.
In the Northern Hemisphere, cats undergo their heat cycle from January to late fall. If you live in a tropical region, you can expect your cat to have multiple cycles over the year.
When does a Female cat have her first Estrus Cycle?
Cats attain their first estrus after reaching puberty. Although there is no standard age for cats reaching puberty, most cats become sexually mature by six months of age. If your cat hasn’t reached puberty after this age, there’s no need to panic. Some cats are late bloomers and may start breeding as late as when they are one year old.
The estrus cycle is also known as the heat cycle. An estrus cycle consists of several stages. The cycle can last anywhere between ten days to two weeks.
How long does estrus last?
The average length of each heat is six days although as discussed earlier, it can vary a lot. If your cat doesn’t mate within this time span, she will go out of it for a short time. The average time interval between the heats or length of the heat cycle is three weeks.
What to expect when your cat is in heat?
The most prominent sign of attaining estrus in cats is behavioural. You may also notice your cat bleed a little but it should never be profound enough to cause worry. Most cats won’t bleed at all and even if they do, it should be negligible. If you In terms of behaviour, cats typically become clingy, affectionate, demanding and constantly wanting attention.
Your cat will try to constantly rub on you and catch your attention all day. They will roll on the floor and do activities they don’t normally do. If you stroke your cat’s back when in heat, she would lift her bottom in the air and drag her back legs. Your cat may also start making too much noise over little matters or without reason.
The behavioural changes are usually aggravated and you may be confused that your cat is ill on its first estrus. All her actions are to attract attention, so you don’t need to worry about sickness. Some female cats also pee on vertical objects to mark her territory and may urinate more often.
Researchers have found that her urine consists of pheromones and hormones that act as a sign of reproductive status to nearby cats. Cats use this spraying technique to signal male cats that a female cat in heat is around. This is one of the early signs of a cat attaining puberty
If you take your cat of the house at such a time, you may notice male cats appear around you. They may spray urine around your yard or walls of your house to attract your furball for mating. If you leave the doors or windows open, they may also sneak into your house and mate with your cat in heat.
It’s important to note that a cat in heat has different symptoms from women on periods. Unlike females, cats don’t shed their uterus lining. As they don’t shed lining, they won’t experience bloating, cramps, and such symptoms common in humans on periods.
Their howling and rolling on the floor only point to need for attention. Cats become extremely eager and perhaps desperate to mate. So much so that when you stroke her back, she may rub against you in a mating position. She may also lick her genitals quite often and lose her appetite during the period.
At what stage is the cat able to get pregnant?
A cat can mate and breed any time when she’s in heat. Cats release eggs from ovaries as soon as they start breeding which is why they are also called induced ovulators. Female cats typically require three to four matings within 24 hours for ovulation. Cats can mate quickly in 1 to 2 minutes and your little furball may mate with multiple tomcats within a short span.
Mostly in street cats, a litter of kittens have multiple fathers. Your cat will go out of heat a day or two after the ovulation period. Pregnancy in cats lasts for an average of 9 weeks.
How to Calm a Cat in Heat?
For a new cat owner, it will be a tough time handling a cat in heat. But it’s important that you don’t take emergency measures or panic in such a situation since her desperate behaviour is totally normal. You can rather use vet prescribed progesterone injections in case the symptoms get out of control or you have no one at home to take care of her.
Indeed spaying is the best option to prevent all this but you can use other temporary techniques for once. You don’t have to spay her if you want to breed your cat, which most cat parents don’t prefer. In such a case, provide her with soft toys and pillows which she can tear into during heat.
If your cat experiences bouts of uncontrollable desperation, give her catnip toys to calm her down. You may make a nest with a warm heating pad to provide her privacy in such a situation. You can also find stress-relieving herbs at the local pet food store. These herbs would go a long way in calming her troublesome behaviour but you should only use them sporadically as they have side effects.
Spaying your cat:
Heat cycles can lead to stress in cats and mating with tomcats on the street may also cause infection. Eliminate such risks and make your cat’s life easy by spaying her at a young age. You also reduce the chances of getting mammary, uterine and ovary cancer by spaying your cat.
Spaying means removing your cat’s reproductive organs to prevent her estrus cycle and eliminate chances of pregnancy. Your spayed cat mostly won’t feel the urge to mate throughout her life. Overpopulation is another major issue of cat’s breeding. Cats give birth to several kittens at one go. The lack of shelters and support means most of these are left astray and live a miserable life.
Ask the adoption centre whether the cat is spayed while adopting. You should consult your vet in case you are unsure.
When should you spay your cat?
College of Veterinary Medical at Cornell University suggests that you should spay your cats before her first heat cycle. There is no reason why you should let your cat have her first estrus cycle before spaying. Letting your cat have her first estrus cycle may result in an accidental pregnancy.
Cats are indiscriminate and can readily mate with their father, brother and son too. Cat overpopulation is a serious problem and you shouldn’t contribute to aggravating it. You should also not believe in myths like bred cats become social and happier. These are just stupid superstitions.
Do cats bleed in heat?
Majority of the cats don’t bleed during the estrus cycles. Even if a cat bleeds during its heat cycle, it shouldn’t be more than a very thin, light ooze that shouldn’t worry the owners. Anything more than that needs the attention of a vet. It might not point to a severe issue but is atypical of cats to bleed heavily.
Profound bleeding mostly will be caused by an underlying issue other than the heat cycle. According to experts, vaginitis or Urinary tract infections may cause vaginal bleeding in cats. It can also happen if a pregnant cat has suffered a miscarriage. The situation can be extremely painful for cats and need immediate attention from the vet.
Do spayed cats bleed?
A spayed cat should never bleed from the genital or vaginal area. Since the vet removes the uterus and ovary from your cat during spaying, she can’t bleed from breeding or estrus. If you have noticed blood leaking from your spayed cat’s genital area, it may be a sign of an underlying issue. You must immediately visit the vet for treatment. Any bleeding around that area may signal a bladder problem.
What should you do when your Cat is Pregnant?
A cat can become pregnant twice a year and pregnancy lasts around 9 weeks. A cat typically gives birth to four to six kittens in one go. You can know your cat has become pregnant by noticing her enlarged and darker nipples. She would also gain a considerable amount of weight in such a case.
As soon as you observe, take your cat to the vet and ensure that the womb is healthy. The vet may recommend internal checkup through X-Ray and chalk out a treatment plan for the cat. Minimize your cat’s stress and provide her with plenty of food and water. Take proper care and take her to the vet for a regular checkup. Usually, cats can birth their litter on their own in a few hours.
As discussed in this article, cats don’t bleed during the heat. Even if they do, it will be a negligible amount which you can ignore. Anything more than requires immediate checkup, so never ignore if your cat’s bleeding profoundly.