We all know that most female mammals go through some type of physical cycle as their bodies prepare to fertilize an egg and birth their young. This process is called menstruation in humans, but it has a different name for felines. The feline version of menstruation is called estrus, though most people say that a cat is “in heat” during this cycle.
If these two cycles are like one another, do cats bleed when in heat the same way humans and dogs do? Most cats do not bleed during estrus. While there is an occasional cat that sheds a very slight amount of blood, it isn’t very common. If a cat is bleeding when in heat, then there could be some other internal issues taking place.
Feline Heat Cycles
Cats are said to be seasonally polyestrous, meaning that they have multiple cycles throughout the breeding season. How long the season lasts changes depending on both geographic and environmental factors. It doesn’t seem real when you first hear it, but both temperature and the number of daylight hours play a role in a cat’s heat cycle. Cats in the northern hemisphere usually have a breeding season from January until late fall. Those in more southern regions or indoor cats could experience their cycles throughout the entire year.
How Long Is Estrus?
Each estrus cycle typically lasts about 6 days. If an unspayed female hasn’t mated during this cycle, then she goes into heat again for another short period of time. This means that a true estrus cycle could last a few days or even a few weeks.
What Are the Signs of Estrus?
Trust us; you’ll know it when your cat is in heat. You won’t likely notice any vaginal bleeding, but there are many more notable signs. Cats start to become very affectionate with their owners and demand a lot more rubs and pats from them. They also roll around on the floor a lot and raise their hindquarters into the air when you stroke their backs.
Female cats that are in heat become incredibly vocal throughout the day. It’s as if they’re shouting for nearby males to come and mate with them. If they don’t find a mate, some act out and start spraying around the house to attract males to them. Their urine contains pheromones and hormones that let her suitors known that she is ready to be fertilized. Tomcats may start to appear, and your female will begin trying to escape the house in any way that she can.
When Can Female Cats Get Pregnant?
Females can get pregnant at any point during their cycles. The act of breeding is what stimulates the egg release from her ovaries. However, many cats require three or four mating sessions within 24 hours for the ovulation to take place.
It takes only one or two minutes for cats to mate, and they can do so multiple times in a very short period. Many females try to mate with several different tomcats to ensure that she gets pregnant. This means that it is entirely possible to have a litter with multiple different fathers.
How Long is Cat Pregnancy?
The average length of a female cat’s pregnancy is between 64 and 71 days. That’s about 9 weeks from fertilization to birth.
Managing a Cat in Heat
What should you do if your feline is in heat, but you don’t want her to get pregnant? Start by securing your house to make sure she has no chance of escaping. Be careful when entering and leaving the house as well. Cats can get pregnant on their first try and, if you don’t want to be responsible for rehoming a litter of kittens, then you must keep her secured inside.
Living with a kitty in heat can be difficult. There isn’t a way to fix their behavior unless you take them to get spayed, which we highly recommend. If you intend to breed your pet cat but aren’t ready for her to breed yet, do your best to comfort her by giving her lots of toys and pillows for her to shred while she’s in heat. Play with her often and give her privacy when she needs it. Sometimes catnip is a great product to help calm her down as well. If things escalate and she starts causing problems, try using pheromones sprays from pet stores to help put her at ease.
Cats go into heat from a young age, and it can be a lot to handle if you’ve never experienced it before. The best option is to spay your cats as soon as possible. This keeps her from being uncomfortable, and it keeps you from having to care for and rehome multiple litters of kittens. Spaying is important because of how many cats are taken to shelters because they can’t find homes. Whether you want her to breed or not, do your best to make her comfortable until the estrus cycle is over.
Featured Image Credit: Marina mrs_brooke, Shutterstock