Do Cats Get Periods? What Is The Estrus Cycle?

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Approved By: Dr. Sara Ochoa, DVM

Certified Content. This article has been fact checked and verified by our veterinary adviser.

Do Cats Get Periods?

Do cats get periods? That is one tricky question.

If you're a woman, you probably remember back in middle school when you and the other girls were taken to separate room from the boys and taught about menstruation and what to do about it. In America, a girl may be given her first real purse after starting her menses.

In Ghana, the girl gets a fancy umbrella and a hard boiled egg she's expected to swallow whole. In Japan, a girl is fed a meal of adzuki beans and sticky rice in celebration.

In Israel, the girl is fed a spoonful of honey. In Malaysia, the girl is given a nail to protect herself from ghosts who feed on blood. Cree girls are encouraged to do handicrafts and reflect on their coming womanhood before holding a feast. Apache girls are dressed up to do the sunrise dance.

And as for cats…well, don't worry about it! Much.

Do Cats Get Periods?

In a word…no. They have a reproductive cycle, of course. But it will not involve bleeding. It will involve a lot of yowling, rolling, urinating and Kitty constantly raising her butt in the air with her tail raised, but a cat's estrus cycle does not include bleeding.

She might make some noise and be a little on the irritating side, but at least there's no blood to clean up!

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What Is The Estrus Cycle?

The estrus cycle is the more accurate way to describe a cat's reproductive cycle. It's also known as “going on heat”. It generally starts when she reaches six months of age, but depending on breed, this can be anywhere from four months to a year. During this time, Kitty will be able to mate, ovulate and give birth to kittens.

She can be bred at any time in this cycle and may even have a litter sired by more than one male. The heat can last anywhere from one day to a week. It will be another week or two before she goes on heat again. Environmental factors can have an impact on the length of the breeding cycle.

Cats are induced ovulators, meaning that they will continuously go in and out of heat until she is bred. If you don't want kittens it is best to get her spayed.

How Will This Cycle Affect My Cat?

image of an orange tabby cat

Kitty may act a bit bizarre when she's on heat. She may vocalize more than usual. She may rub up against people and objects more often than usual. She may start rolling around or acting restless and general. She is often more demanding, needing more attention and insisting on going outside.

You may notice her crouching with her bottom in the air quite often, usually while yowling. This noise may sound grating to you, but it sounds like “Come and get it, big boy!” to a tomcat. If she's not getting what she expects, Kitty might grow frustrated and become irritable and agitated.

The most annoying behavioral change in a cat on heat is her constant urination. Worse, she won't want to do it in a litter box. She'll have a desire to squirt her scent on every vertical surface. If she puts her backside to a vertical surface and raises her tail, something nasty is coming!

Do Cats Bleed When In Heat?

Put the pads and tampons away. While some dogs may experience some vaginal bleeding while on heat, it's not normal for a cat at all. If your cat is bleeding from her vagina she is either miscarrying a litter or is suffering vaginitis and must be taken to a veterinarian immediately.

What To Do When My Cat is In Heat?

image of a male feline chasing a female to mate

Only two real options here. You can just let her get laid. (Not recommended as it will in a best case scenario give you a litter of kittens in need of homes or a sick, injured or dead cat in a worst case scenario.) Or you can make extra sure she doesn't go anywhere near male cats. Her yowling and scent spraying is sure to get the attention of the local Toms, so you might have trouble with several gentleman callers wanting to know if Kitty can come out and play.

It's best if you just wait it out. Kitty doesn't need any changes to her diet, but she could use some toys to release her tensions. Not those kind of toys! Get her something cheap that she can shred to pieces while working out her frustrations. Something stuffed with catnip might help her forget her troubles. Of course, the easiest solution is to not have to deal with Kitty being on heat at all. And this brings us too….

Spaying

It's recommended that you have your queen spayed to prevent her from going on heat or conceiving kittens. The procedure is also known as an ovariohysterectomy, surgical sterilization or simply “getting fixed”. It's never too late to get your cat spayed. It's recommended that the procedure is done at or before her sixth month. 

There are many myths about spaying that must be dispelled. It is not at all necessary or even recommended for your cat to have a litter before getting spayed. It will not make her fat or stunt her growth. The procedure, which takes a couple of hours, will mean that Kitty will no longer experience the hormone flux that comes with an estrus cycle nor will she be able to have kittens. This can be a major stress reliever both for you and your cat.

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Do cats get their period and bleed?

Female cats do not bleed when in heat because they do not shed the internal lining of the uterus. There may be some discharge of vaginal secretion, but not bleeding.

How long do cats have periods?

Cats are polyestrous, which means heat cycles happen periodically during their fertile years. These cycles may start as early as four-months-old and will continue until a cat is either bred or spayed. Heat cycles in cats can last several days, up to two weeks, and repeat themselves every two to three weeks.

Do cats get periods?

Unspayed cats and dogs will have a period – or more correctly – come into heat. The female cat's vulva will also swell when she comes into heat but it isn't always as noticeable as in the dog. There is no obvious bleeding either.

At what age do cats stop going into heat?

Most female cats will go into heat by 6 months of age. But certain environmental factors can cause it to happen more quickly. And certain breeds—like Siamese—may go into heat as early as 4 months, while for other breeds 10 months old is a more typical age for going into heat.

  • Updated May 4, 2020
Mary Nielsen
 

A huge animal lover, born and raised around dogs, cats, chickens... Self-educated pet care nerd. Currently parent of three adopted cats and one small mutt. Animal adoption advocate. Loves a good book (about animals) and playing the piano.

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