Before getting a female cat, many owners want to know do cats have periods.
Human menstrual cycles can be painful and annoying to deal with, so it is natural to wonder if you will have to go through that same ordeal when owning a cat.
Cats undergo menstrual cycles known as estrous cycles or heat. Most cats do not bleed during these cycles. Cats do not experience estrous cycles monthly like humans; instead, the frequency and duration of these cycles are dependent on geography and time of year. Indoor cats or cats that live in warm places can go through heat cycles year-round.
Even though cats do not experience periods the same way that humans do, their heat cycles can be just as stressful.
Read on to find out if your cat is experiencing her estrous cycle, and what you can do to prevent these heat cycles or any unwanted kittens!
Do Cats Have Periods?
Cats are fascinating creatures with a lot of surprising similarities to humans.
However, even though humans and cats are both mammals, many of their bodily functions differ from ours. This is especially true when it comes to reproductive behaviors.
If you have an unspayed cat, you may want to know, do female cats get periods?
The answer is that female cats do go through cycles that facilitate reproduction, but these are usually called estrous cycles or heat cycles.
The word oestrus (also spelled estrus) is a noun that refers to the heat cycle that cats experience, while the word estrous is an adjective.
One might say that a cat is experiencing estrus, or going through an estrous cycle.
So, do cats have periods and bleed? The reality is that cats rarely bleed during their period.
In humans, the uterus prepares itself for pregnancy by lining itself with tissue each month. If the person does not get pregnant, that lining is shed, resulting in about a week of bleeding.
In cats, however, that lining is typically reabsorbed into the body.
What Is The Estrous Cycle?
Some mammals shed the lining from their uterus after their reproductive cycle has ended.
The time when the mammal sheds this lining is known as a period.
There are many mammals besides humans who go through periods, including:
Cats, however, experience estrous cycles, also known as cat heat cycles.
Once a cat’s heat cycle is over, she typically reabsorbs the lining of her uterus back into her body, rather than shedding it.
However, some spotting is typically expected after a cat’s estrous cycle.
Cats are polyestrous mammals. This means that they experience estrous cycles multiple times a year. These cycles are also dependent on the time of year.
If you want to know when do cats go into heat, the answer is usually from spring to fall.
However, since these heat cycles are typically affected by the hours of light in a day, indoor cats or cats who live in tropical areas can experience heat year-round.
A cat’s estrous cycle can last anywhere from one day to three weeks! However, most cats’ heat cycles usually only last about seven days.
If the cat becomes pregnant during estrus, their cycle will end. If they do not become pregnant, however, they will continue to experience oestrus cycles until they do.
11 Cat Period Symptoms
If you are wondering what does cat period look like, you might be surprised to find that the symptoms of heat cycles in cats are very different from humans.
Here are some symptoms that might indicate your cat is in her estrous cycle (source 1):
1. Increased Affection
When a female cat is in heat, she will often crave more attention from her owners.
You might find that your cat is constantly demanding snuggles, or winding around your legs much more than usual.
Your cat may lick or groom her genital area during this time, as it often becomes swollen or even slightly uncomfortable during estrus.
Female cats in heat often yowl, scream, or moan.
While this may sound scary or like your cat is in pain, it is a way for her to call males nearby.
4. Trying To Escape
If you have an indoor cat, she may try to escape when she is in heat.
Some cats sit near the window or door while yowling. Learn more about yowling, here.
If you have an outdoor cat, you may notice she is spending more time outside looking for a mate.
5. Sexual Stimulation Responses
If you scratch or pat the base of your cat’s tail, she may raise her hindquarters or paddle her hind legs.
This is because the base of a cat’s tail is considered an erogenous zone for female cats.
While many cats do enjoy being petted there, unspayed females can feel sexually stimulated when they are touched in this area.
6. Rolling On The Floor
If your cat begins rolling on the floor more often, it could be a sign that she is in heat.
Cats often stretch out on the floor when they want attention. They may also start rubbing against the floor.
Cats in heat often walk or stand with a much lower stance.
Your cat may crawl around while making a moaning sound.
While this sound may be unsettling, it is not a sign that your cat is experiencing discomfort.
8. Tail Position
A cat in heat may have an unusual tail posture.
If she wraps her tail to one side while raising her hindquarters in the air, this means she is assuming the mating position.
Typically, cats reabsorb the lining of the uterus but you may also find some cat period blood on the carpet or your cat’s favorite sleeping place.
A little blood or spotting is perfectly normal, but if you notice lots of blood it is a good idea to take your cat to the vet.
One of the most undesirable traits of a cat in heat is spraying.
Spraying refers to when cats intentionally urinate outside of their litterbox in an attempt to mark their territory.
Once a cat starts spraying, it is hard to stop it, even if you spay the cat afterward.
This is one reason why it is so important to spay your cat before she experiences her first estrous cycle.
11. Loss Of Appetite
As the cat is more focused on finding a mate, you may find that her appetite decreases significantly.
However, it is important to keep an eye on how much your cat is eating each day because significant appetite loss could be a sign of a much more serious underlying problem.
How Often Do Cats Have Periods?
If you are wondering do cats have periods every month, the answer is typically no.
A cat’s heat cycle is dependent on their geography, temperature, and the number of daylight hours they get.
Most cats only experience heat cycles between the spring and fall.
However, cats in warm locations with lots of daylight hours, or indoor cats stimulated by artificial lighting can experience these heat cycles year-round.
If you want to know do female cats have menstrual cycles, the answer is also no.
While cats do experience reproductive cycles, the term menstruation only applies to humans and primates.
The proper terms for cat heat cycles are estrus or estrous cycles.
If a cat is not impregnated during her estrous cycle, she can go into heat again within a few weeks.
Since cats do not go through menopause like humans, they can also experience heat cycles well into their senior years (source 1).
How Long Do Cat Periods Last?
Cats do not experience periods in the same way that humans do, but they do undergo reproductive cycles.
So, how long do heat cycles last in cats?
Most cats’ heat cycles last for about six or seven days. However, they can actually range from 1 to 21 days.
A cat’s estrous cycle will end soon after she mates. Mating will signal to her body that it is time to ovulate, which she will do in about 24 hours.
Ovulation usually lasts for one to two days, and cats can mate with multiple partners during this period. After ovulation, she will end her heat cycle.
How To Help A Cat On Her Period
If your cat is in heat, you may feel like there is not a whole lot you can do.
The extreme behavior changes in your cat can be confusing, scary, or even frustrating. Unfortunately, once a cat has gone into heat, there is no way to reverse it.
However, there are some things you can do to keep your cat comfortable during this difficult time (source 1):
Your cat’s heat cycle may result in some frustrating behaviors like constant, loud yowling, spraying, or demanding attention at all times of the day.
Try to remember that your cat has no control over this situation, and the experience is likely more uncomfortable for her than it is for you.
A cat during estrus typically becomes much more clingy. She may demand attention and cuddles throughout the day.
While this may be frustrating or time-consuming, try to give your cat as much extra attention as you can.
Avoid Inappropriate Stimulation
Many owners unknowingly make things worse by petting their cat’s erogenous zone at the base of her tail.
While you should pet your cat more often during her heat cycle, try to avoid this area as she may assume the mating position and become frustrated.
Playtime And Distraction
Your cat probably only has one thing on her mind during her heat cycle, but distracting her through playtime, treats, and catnip can help make the passage of time a bit more bearable.
Playtime is a great way to redirect undesirable behaviors like spraying, as well.
While it is still unknown whether or not cats experience cramps or similar discomfort during their heat cycles, many vets recommend providing a heated bed or warm towel for your cat to lay on.
This is a treatment commonly used to ease the pain of cramps.
Clean The Litterbox More Often
If your cat has started spraying, try to clean your litterbox more frequently. This will make your cat more likely to mark her litterbox rather than the rest of your house.
Keep Your House Quiet And Calm
Estrus is a stressful time for many cats. Try to keep your environment as calm and quiet as possible.
Avoid having a lot of company over or making any major changes to your house.
If you have children or other pets, keep them away from her so she can rest in peace.
Can A Cat Get Pregnant When In Heat?
Unlike humans, cats can get pregnant at any time when they are in heat.
The human menstruation cycle is regular and predictable, with ovulation occurring at a fixed time each month.
Meanwhile, cats ovulate based on environmental factors. This is because their body naturally releases ovaries once the cat is stimulated by intercourse.
However, a cat usually needs to have intercourse several times throughout 24 hours for the ovaries to be released.
After ovulation, a female cat’s heat will end within a few days.
Cats can also mate with multiple partners during their estrous cycle.
If your cat has a litter of kittens that look very different from one another, it could mean they have different fathers!
Do Cats Get Period Cramps?
In humans, cramps are the result of the uterus convulsing in an attempt to shed its lining. Since cats typically reabsorb this lining, it is unlikely they experience cramps.
However, researchers still do not know for sure if a cat’s heat cycle results in any discomfort.
Furthermore, some vets recommend providing your cat with a heating pad or warm towel, treatments that often help humans when they are on their periods (source 1).
Do Cats Have Periods After Being Spayed?
Once a cat is spayed, she will no longer experience estrus.
Spaying your cat is the best way to reduce the chance of behavioral problems or unwanted pregnancies.
This is the best age to neuter your Maine Coon cat.
There is already a staggering overpopulation of cats in many areas. Since cats can reproduce so quickly, it is important to reduce the number of kittens being born.
Spaying your cat will also prevent her from spraying, yowling, or trying to escape to find a mate.
While some people claim that allowing a cat to go into heat at least once will make her more affectionate, there is no basis for this claim.
Cats are actually more likely to have behavioral problems if they are not spayed before their first cycle.
For example, many cats begin to spray once they go into heat. Even if you spay a cat after her first estrous cycle, she may continue to spray after her surgery.
Overall, it is better to get your cat spayed before she goes into estrus at four to six months.
If you want to know do cats have periods, the answer is technically no.
While cats do undergo heat cycles, they typically reabsorb the lining of their uterus rather than shedding it.
Still, some spotting is expected, so do not be too shocked if you notice some blood on your cat’s bed during her heat cycle.
When Are Female Cats Sexually Mature?
Female cats usually reach sexual maturity when they are between four and six months old.