Do Cats Get Their Period When in Heat?
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A female cat will exhibit some interesting behavior when in heat. It may seem abnormal to us, but it is natural behavior which allows the domesticated cat's wild ancestors to procreate. However, keeping cats as pets is not the same as them being in the wild. Without a partner with which to mate and being unable to look after any ensuing kittens, it is most of the time unfair to live with an unneutered cat. A cat which is not spayed will also go through a lot of stress. In the wild, they will be able to mate and stop the cycle. Domesticated cats will have a prolonged heat period and become very frustrated. This can lead to mental stress.
More practically, you might be wondering do cats get their period when in heat? AnimalWised explains the menstrual cycle of cats and what to expect in terms of physical changes and behavioral differences.
What does it mean for a cat to be in heat?
Female cats reach sexual maturity at 10 months of age and have their first period of heat around 8 months. However, this timeline does differ according to breed as some may take up to 15 months to reach sexual maturity and don't start their heat period until 10 months old.
This heat cycle takes place several times a year, especially during the spring and summer seasons. In males, it is common for them to become very affectionate, often so enamored they eschew eating. This also occurs in females, but there are some important differences.
The heat period of a female cat presents itself in different stages, each with its own characteristics. We summarize them below:
- Proestrus: this is the first phase, during which all of the signs of being in heat are exhibited. This is the attraction stage where the female attempts to interest the male. They do not yet let the male mate during this stage.
- Estrus: this is the most intensified period of the heat cycle where the female accepts being mounted and the heat behavior is also accentuated.
- Metestrus: the cat will reject the male aggressively at this stage and will not let him approach.
- Anestrus: this is the end of the heat cycle where the cat will go into a sexual decline until the beginning of the next reproductive cycle.
Symptoms of the estrus cycle in cats
The symptoms of the heat cycle in cats are characteristic and fairly easy to detect. However, if you are a first time cat owner, you may find it difficult to distinguish certain signs or behaviors. If you cat is in heat, you should be able to observe the following:
- Rolling on the ground: sometimes known as wallowing, this is one of the most obvious behaviors of a cat. They become restless and will rub themselves over the ground, your couch cushions or even your lap. The function is to spread their scent via hair and their glands so that males will be attracted to the area.
- Purring: purring usually accompanies the act of rolling on the ground. The cat becomes tender and affectionate, purring at any stimulus or even if they aren't being petted at all.
- Meows and vocalizations: one of the most characteristic signs of the heat cycle in cats are their meows. They are often impossible to ignore due to their frequency and volume. The goal is to alert potential mates of their location and readiness.
- Presenting: cats in heat will often present their rear as if there were a male around to mount them, even if this is not the case.
- Urinating: during the heat cycle, cats will spread their smell everywhere through their urine as a means to attract males. They will also rub their face against furniture or different types of objects as they have scent glands on their heads.
Do cats feel pain when they are in heat?
It is difficult to say if a cat feels physical pain during their heat cycle. However, it is safe to say they can experience discomfort, frustration and anxiety. The desire to procreate is deep and strong, meaning if it is not fulfilled it can be very discomforting for the cat. However, if the cat is spayed or neutered, they can avoid this frustration and live a less stressful existence.
Do cats in head bleed?
You may be asking this because feline menstruation means that cats must ovulate. While it is true that cats are no exception, their system is a little different.
First, let's explain what is ovulation. This is the time of release of the egg, determining the fertile days of the female. If the ovum is not fertilized, then in many species (including humans) menstrual bleeding occurs. However, this does not happen in cats. With felines, the ovum is only released after fertilization has already occurred. This means after the cat has accepted being mounted and allowed for mating and insemination by the male.
So, in respect of not producing menstrual blood, do cats get their period when in heat? The answer is no. Some mammals, such a dogs, will have a period in that they bleed during their menstrual cycle. Due to the absence of ovulation until after mating in cats, the egg is not rejected and should not exhibit bleeding. Although uncommon, up to 30% of cats may have spontaneous ovulations without any sexual stimulation.
Vaginal bleeding in cats
Cats in heat should not bleed from their vulva. For this reason, if we observe vaginal bleeding in cats we should understand that it is not part of the natural menstruation process and implies there is an issue which needs to be dealt with. Although we mentioned spontaneous cases of ovulation, these are relatively rare. If you spot your cat bleeding from the vulva, then you should take them to the vet for an appropriate diagnosis. Unfortunately, vaginal bleeding in cats could be due to a number of reasons, including:
- Uterine infection
- Intestinal obstruction
- Intestinal ulcers
Bleeding is not a symptom of a healthy cat under any circumstance, even if some problems are more acute than others. Sterilizing your cat will not only prevent the stress inducing behaviors of a cat in heat, it will also reduce the risk of certain pathologies and help maintain their overall health.
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