Last updated: September 22, 2016
As an experienced cat owner, friends who look to adopt a kitten often go to me for advice on how to go about adopting one, which cat food they should buy, and how they can take care of their future cat. Although they would have several questions at once, I don’t usually mind answering all of them and reassure them of how wonderful it is to have a cat of your own to love and to hold. After all, it is quite an exciting moment for them and for me as well, since the thought of a cat getting adopted into a loving family can really warm one’s heart.
When the time finally comes for them to decide whether they should take a female or male cat, they would tend to gravitate towards asking, “Do female cats have periods?” Others might find that choosing the gender of their pet is just a matter of preference, but knowing the differences and even the similarities between the two genders can really help prospective parents to decide which cat they want to adopt. Initially common sense would dictate that female mammals such as cats would obviously have their periods much like female humans do. Although, that thought has some merit to it, the cycle of a female cat is quite different from what female humans experience every month.
What is Heat?
Instead of having what is called a menstrual cycle every month for female humans, female cats go through a heat cycle or what is called, estrus for cats. Unlike female humans who would only get their periods when they are in their pre-teen years, female cats can be in heat as early as when they are 5 or 6 months old. However, just like with humans this depends for each cat. Not every cat starts to get their cycle in the same age. It is perfectly normal for some cats to get theirs only after they are a year-old.
When in Heat
The best way to understand what a female cat goes through during their heat cycle is to compare it to a female human’s menstrual cycle. There are a lot of physical differences, but both of them go through major hormonal changes during this time of the month. While the natural response of the a female human’s body to her menstrual cycle is to have vaginal bleeding for a number of days coupled with unbearable abdominal cramps, and not to mention bloating in her belly, as well as drastic mood swings female cats however, go through a whole different episode when they are in heat.
Female cats when in heat are a menace to be with. Their raging hormones can sometimes be too much to deal with. During their heat cycle, felines are notorious for what I call, “meowling” which is an ear-splitting combination of them meowing and yowling all through the night. Although, they are the noisiest at night, a female cat in heat can continue meowling day in and day out. Needless to say, this is only one of the many things that felines and their owners go through during their dreaded heat cycle. They can also be uncharacteristically affectionate and would often rub themselves on things around the house and even on their owners. They would also tend to spray more during this time and lift their behind as in a mating position more frequently than they would have done during normal days when they are not in heat.
Duration of Heat Cycle
I remember when my female cat, Ginger, first started her heat cycle. She was uncontrollably meowling while everyone tried to sleep during the nights, and even in the mornings when everyone tried to work. Let’s just say that it was a very traumatic and unproductive week for all of us at the house. I even ended up sleeping in the office during the day, because I did not get even a wink of sleep during the night. This is also left our house reeking with urine smell for weeks on end.
The heat cycle of a cat can last for as short as 1 day to as long as 7 days, and during this time female cats can become restless and highly irritable at the same time. When a female cat is in heat they are basically looking for a male cat to copulate with and breed little kittens of their own, if not, the female cat would continue to exhibit such behaviors until her heat dies down. However, when mating does not happen in that cycle, she will continue to go in and out of her heat every 1 to 2 weeks. The heat cycle of a female cat therefore is completed every 3 weeks, unlike female humans whose cycles last for 28 days or more.
Although it makes sense for female cats to also experience vaginal bleeding during their heat cycle, it is simply not the case as it is it for female humans. When female cats do have vaginal bleeding during their heat cycle, it is a cause for alarm and not a natural part of changes in their hormones. It is best to have a female cat checked out by the local veterinarian if vaginal bleeding does occur, as this could be a sign of a possible miscarriage of the litter she has been carrying.
As you now know, female cats do not get periods as female humans do, some would say, that they’ve got it worse due to the extreme events that felines have to go through when they are in heat. Aside from cat population control, most owners opt to have their female cats spayed by their local veterinarian. This would save them and their feline a lot of uncomfortable, sleepless days, and save them both from the trouble of the endless meowling and the constant urge to go outside to find a mate.
Spaying is a paid surgical procedure that will remove a female cat’s uterus or ovaries and sometimes both. This procedure is the most effective birth control for pets such as cats and dogs to help curb the ever-increasing dog and cat population. Female cat owners can have their felines spayed as early as when they are 6 months of age or soon after their heat cycle starts.
Although, female cats do not have periods, they also go through their own cycle every 3 weeks. This might be a trying time for an owner and their cat, but just like when female humans menstruate, this is actually a time when a feline needs its owner’s love and care the most. Being extra patient and understanding the female cat when they are in heat will help make things a little bit easier for the cat and its owner. Showing a female cat extra attention and petting the more than usual during this time would strengthen the bond between a feline and her owner, leaving both happy and in good spirits.