Cats can go into heat several times throughout the year, a cat’s symptoms or vocalisations during this time can make their pet owners feel concerned.
No, cats are not in pain when they are going through their heat cycles.
They might experience agitation and mild discomfort as they feel the need to mate.
The yowls and howls that your cat makes are designed to attract a potential mate; they are not a sign of pain.
Signs Your Cat Is In Heat
Every cat is different, so they might exhibit unique symptoms. Pets that have never experienced a heat cycle before might show milder clinical signs.
Here are some symptoms that you should be on the lookout for if you suspect that your cat is ready to mate:
- Excessive vocalisations
- Clinging behaviours
- Trying to escape from the house all the time
- Keeping their tail up, especially when being petted on the back
- Extra grooming
- Crawling on the floor while moaning or yowling
If you have never seen a cat in heat before, you might feel a little alarmed as to how intense these symptoms can be.
Your cat might lose sleep (and also make you lose sleep at night) and meow continuously.
It’s perfectly normal for this species to sleep or at least nap for as much as 16 to 18 hours per day, so if you see your pet being way more active and loud than usual and they aren’t spayed or neutered, that could be a sign that they are in heat.
Do Cats Have Periods?
Yes, cats have their period for the first time as early as 4 months of age.
Some might not show significant changes in their behaviour, but most do.
But cats are different when it comes to their periods compared to people.
While humans have monthly cycles, meaning that females get their periods once a month, that is not the case with cats.
Because they don’t have heat cycles every month, they also don’t get their period on a monthly basis.
Another detail that makes the difference between the human and feline cycles is that when cats go into heat, they immediately get their periods, too.
If you have ever researched ovulation in humans, you probably know that it happens one week or more after their period has passed.
Cats are on their period and experience instantaneous ovulation whenever they mate.
However you will not notice much blood when your cat has their period as the amount is so little that you might not even notice any spotting on the areas your cat is resting.
It can happen, but it is rare.
In fact, most cats don’t have a bleeding period at all. Their discharge is white or clear rather than dark or bright red.
Signs That Your Cat May Be Finding Their Period Painful
All the loud howling that you can see while your cat is in heat (and therefore, on their period) might convince you that your pet is experiencing some sort of pain.
While this is very, very rare, it can sometimes happen, especially if your cat has also caught an infection and managed to develop pyometra.
Pyometra is a severe infection of the uterus that can sometimes be life-threatening.
The reason it’s correlated with the heat period is that at that specific time, the cat’s cervix is open, which means that there’s no barrier preventing pathogens from outside the uterus from getting into it.
Normally, when your female cat is not undergoing their heat cycle, their cervix makes it impossible for any germ or microorganism to penetrate the uterus.
The same goes for spayed animals — they cannot develop pyometra because they either don’t have a uterus or there’s no hormonal activity causing any uterus muscle movement.
Yowling is not a symptom of pain when your cat is in heat (and on their period).
However, if other symptoms show up, such as your cat being more withdrawn, not having an appetite for either food or water, and preferring cold surfaces, you should probably take your pet to the animal hospital.
Do keep in mind that unless they go through trauma, most cats are not going to show any signs of pain or an infection.
Therefore, it is your responsibility as their pet owner to keep an eye on their behaviour to try and tell if they are experiencing pain.
The Feline Heat Cycle
Cats have their first heat cycle when they reach four or five months of age.
Some animals might go into heat earlier because another animal in their proximity might have gone into heat, too.
In fact, most males go into heat because of the smells and vocalisations that females are responsible for.
Every heat cycle can last for a minimum of a week and a maximum of two to three weeks.
Normally, cats should experience two to three heat cycles per year, but the truth is that the activity of their ovaries is largely influenced by the sun and solar radiation.
That is why some cats can have repeated heat cycles once February or March roll in and up to September or October.
To make matters worse, if you give your cat medications and inhibit their heat cycle, they might go into heat once a month.
How To Help A Cat In Heat
Even though your cat is not going to be in pain when going through their heat cycle, their behaviour can be a little distressing.
Here are some tips on how you can make your cat feel more comfortable at this time:
- Give them catnip as a distraction
- Use pheromones such as Feliway to try and calm them down
- Make sure they have a comfortable place to sit on, such as a heated cat bed
- Give your cat plenty of attention by way of petting them and playing with them
- Ask your vet whether medications are available
Males and females should be separated as much as possible during their heat periods to prevent a pregnancy from happening.
Since cats ovulate immediately after copulation, the likelihood of this not resulting in a litter of kittens is very low.
Consider Spaying Your Cat
Spaying or neutering cats is not only good for them since you can prevent a lot of mishaps and health complications, but it’s also a good practice to minimise stray cat populations.
There are millions of cats across the world that do not have owners and that mate and reproduce time and again, leading to even more stray cats living in poor conditions.
Spaying your cat prevents pyometra and all the clinical manifestations of a heat cycle. Spayed cats do have a higher risk of becoming obese since they’re less interested in engaging in as much physical activity as their intact counterparts.
Neutering males before the age of 5 months is not recommended by many vets.
Early neutering can have a negative impact, particularly on their urinary tract health, sometimes making them experience urethral obstruction later on in life.