Feline Estrous Cycles OR Heat Cycles

Do female cats have periods?

Like other animals and mammals, cats get monthly periods. Cat periods are different from human’s menstrual cycle. In cats, the menstrual cycle is known as the estrous cycle and many people just call it “in heat” or “heat cycle”. In the estrous cycles of cats, normally they do not bleed like humans.

When is a cat’s first heat cycle?

Unspayed cats only experience their estrous cycles in life. Estrous cycles start just after the sexual maturity of the cats. Normally cats mature at the age of around four to six months but this can vary with breeds and individuals. In order to avoid pregnancies in female cats, they should be spayed before the start of their heat cycles (estrous cycles).

Heat Cycles in Cats

The heat cycle (reproductive cycle) of a cat comprises 4 stages.

1. Anestrous

In this stage of the cat heat cycle, ovaries are inactive and there would be no sexual activity. In the United States, this is usually starting from October till January.

2. Proestrous

In this stage of the heat cycle, ovaries prepare them for the next stage and they start follicle (premature egg) formation. This stage is for only 1-3 days. The vulva of cats starts swelling and appears moist during these days of the heat cycle.

3. Estrus

Estrus is the most important stage of the heat cycle. The female cats are actually “in heat” during this stage. Cats vocalize, roam, frequently urinate and exhibit signs that tell your female cat is in heat. The breeding or actual copulation happens during this stage. Female cats can become pregnant at this time and start their gestation periods. The length of this period can be one to two weeks. During this time cats show behavioral modifications that are called heat signs. It is very essential for owners to learn about these signs to avoid any confusion and worries.

Heat cycle, Estrus

4. Metestrus

This is the last stage of the heat cycle. Cats return back to their normal lives and do not accept male cats during this stage.

How often do female cats go into heat?

Cats can go into heat multiple times during a year. Cats are “polyestrous” which means they can go into the estrus stage many times a year. They can repeat their estrus after every 14-21 days. This is majorly dependent on daylight length, environmental temperature, and health conditions. Cats that live in warmer regions or find suitable conditions can experience estrus around the year. While other cats only show estrus during their favorite season or breeding season.

How long do female cats stay in heat?

The normal duration for female cats to stay in “estrus” or heat is about one to two weeks. Your cat will stay in heat until she mates with a male cat. If she does not mate, she will repeat the estrus or heat after 14-21 days.

How to keep your cat away from the heat cycle?

You can stop the heat cycles of your female cats by getting them spayed. If spaying is not favorable for you, you can use implants that are used to keep your cats away from heat cycles. Melatonin is also used to minimize heat cycles in cats. If your female cat is already in estrus (in heat), you can use any external vaginal stimulation (rectal thermometer) to stop the heat. But perform this process very carefully without harming your cat.

What do cat periods look like?

You may find some spots of blood during cat periods. Normally cats do not bleed during the heat. In case of excessive bleeding, you should consult immediately with a veterinarian. Signs of the cat heat cycle include

  1. More vocalization than normal
  2. The cat will be more affectionate
  3. She will lift her tail more frequently
  4. Your cat will want to roam outdoor
  5. She grooms herself excessively
  6. Your cat is crawling
  7. Loss of appetite and restlessness
  8. Frequent Urination or urine spraying
What is cat gestation period or pregnancy length?

The length of pregnancy in cats is 60-65 days on average or about nine weeks.

How can I avoid pregnancy in my female cat?

Surgical spaying (ovariohysterectomy) is the best way to prevent pregnancy in your female cat. This spaying should be done before the start of the heat cycle of your cat (before the age of 5 months). They can even become pregnant during their first heat cycle. The second option is to keep locked your female cat during heat or estrus but this is very challenging. The aim is to avoid copulation during heat signs to prevent pregnancy.