The Hidden Truth. Do Cats Bleed When In Heat?

What Happens to Female Cats During Heat

what happens to female cats in heat

Female cats go through reproductive cycles known as estrous or “heat” cycles. During this time, the cat’s body prepares for pregnancy and mating. Heat cycles typically begin at 5-9 months of age and recur every 2-3 weeks until the cat is spayed or becomes pregnant.

There are four phases in the feline estrus cycle:

  • Proestrus – The reproductive tract begins maturing and estrogen levels rise. Most cats do not show behavioral signs during this 1-2 day phase.
  • Estrus – The cat is receptive to mating. Estrogen peaks and the female will exhibit mating behaviors. This phase lasts 5-10 days.
  • Interestrus – Estrogen levels drop and the female is no longer receptive to breeding. This phase lasts a variable time.
  • Anestrus – The reproductive system is inactive before beginning another cycle. This phase lasts 1-3 weeks.

During estrus, female cats undergo a variety of physical and behavioral changes in response to rising hormone levels. Typical signs include excessive vocalization, affectionate and attention-seeking behavior, restlessness, decreased appetite, and raising the hindquarters when scratched near the base of the tail.

Do Cats Bleed When in Heat?

Unlike human women, cats do not menstruate or have “periods.” In female cats, the estrous or heat cycle is marked by a rise in estrogen levels that prompts receptive mating behaviors, but no uterine bleeding occurs.

cats don't bleed when in heat

Instead of shedding and expelling their uterine lining each cycle like humans, cats are “induced ovulators” and will absorb the uterine lining if conception does not occur. This means vaginal bleeding is not a normal part of feline estrus cycles.

However, some vaginal discharge is normal when a cat is in heat. Cats may produce a light amount of bloody discharge or bloody urine during an estrous cycle, especially the first heat cycle in young cats. This discharge comes from the vulva and may stain bedding. While minimal bloody discharge can be normal, significant vaginal bleeding is not and warrants veterinary examination.

According to The Spruce Pets, the most common discharge when a cat is in heat is a light mucus that may contain some red tinge. Any strong vaginal odor or discharge should prompt a veterinary visit to rule out infection. So while cats do not experience a true “period,” a small amount of vaginal discharge can occur with estrus cycles.

When Does a Cat Go Into Heat?

Most cats reach sexual maturity and go into heat for the first time between 6-9 months of age. However, it can be as early as 4 months or as late as 12 months for some cats. After the first heat, cats will go into heat repeatedly throughout their reproductive years (Estrous Cycles in Cats – VCA Animal Hospitals).

The frequency of heat cycles varies, but on average, cats will go into heat every 2-3 weeks during breeding season. Breeding season for cats is typically spring and summer. Some cats may experience year-round heat cycles, while others may only go into heat seasonally. The length of heat can range from 1-21 days, with most cats averaging about 7 days per heat cycle (How Long Are Cats in Heat? – PetMD).

Keep in mind that factors like health, breed, and geographic location can impact when a cat first goes into heat and how often they experience heat cycles. Monitoring your cat closely as they reach maturity will help you identify when they are in heat.

Signs Your Cat is in Heat

There are several clear signs that indicate when a female cat is in heat. One of the most notable is increased vocalization. According to Reveal Pet Food, cats in heat become much louder and more vocal, with constant meowing and yowling. They are trying to get the attention of male cats and may become difficult to ignore.

A cat in heat will also demonstrate affectionate behaviors like rubbing on furniture, legs, and ankles. As explained by Vetic, this is your cat’s way of marking territory and spreading pheromones. The constant desire for attention and physical touch is a clear sign heat has begun.

Increased restlessness is another indicator. Cats in heat have pent up energy and may pace constantly, struggle to get comfortable, and act agitated. Their hormones are in overdrive, making it difficult to relax until the heat cycle passes.

Dangers of Heat Cycles

Repeated heat cycles without pregnancy can be risky for a female cat’s health. Some key dangers include:

dangers of heat cycles for cats

Uterine Infections: The thickened uterine lining that builds up during estrus can become prone to infection if it is not shed during pregnancy. Pyometra is a potentially fatal uterine infection that can occur in cats who go through repeated heat cycles

Mammary Cancer: Intact female cats have a much higher risk of developing mammary cancer. The hormones released during heat cycles stimulate mammary tissue growth, and each heat cycle further increases cancer risk

Reproductive Cancers: Repeated ovulation also raises the risk of cancers of the ovaries, uterus, and cervix in intact female cats

The best way to eliminate these reproductive health risks for female cats is to get them spayed at an appropriate age.

Spaying Your Cat

Spaying or neutering your cat provides many health and behavioral benefits. Spaying involves surgically removing the ovaries and uterus, preventing a female cat from going into heat. Some key benefits of spaying your cat include:

Reduces the risk of mammary cancer – Spaying before the first heat cycle reduces the risk of mammary tumors by 91%. Intact female cats have a high risk of developing mammary cancer.

Prevents pyometra – Pyometra is a life-threatening infection of the uterus that can occur in intact older female cats. Spaying removes this risk entirely.

Reduces roaming and mating behaviors – Spayed female cats are less likely to roam, fight with males, and demonstrate mating behaviors like yowling. This results in a calmer and better-behaved cat.

Stops heat cycles – Going into heat can be stressful and uncomfortable for female cats. Spaying prevents reoccurring heat cycles.

The spay procedure itself is routine, fast surgery performed under general anesthesia. The vet makes a small incision into the abdomen, removes the ovaries and uterus, and closes things up. Complications are rare when performed by an experienced vet. Most cats recover fully within 7-10 days.

Spaying is highly recommended by vets and provides lifelong health protection for female cats. It’s generally advised to spay kittens before 6 months of age, prior to any heat cycles beginning. Overall, spaying improves cats’ quality of life tremendously.


Caring for Your Cat in Heat

When your female cat goes into heat, it’s important to keep her comfortable and safe. Here are some tips for caring for a cat in heat according to experts:

Give your cat extra affection during this time. Petting, brushing, and playing can help relieve stress and calm your cat. Just be cautious about overstimulating her.

Make sure your cat is eating and drinking normally. Appetite changes can happen when a cat is in heat, so monitor her food and water intake.

Clean the litter box more frequently. Female cats in heat tend to urinate more often.

Confine your cat indoors. This will protect her from roaming outdoors, prevent unwanted pregnancies, and limit the attention of male cats around your home.

Use synthetic feline pheromones like Feliway to help minimize stress and anxious behaviors (source).

Make sure your cat gets adequate rest since heat cycles can be tiring. Provide a quiet, comfortable area where she can relax and sleep.

Talk to your veterinarian about spaying your cat if you don’t intend to breed her. This will stop the heat cycles and related behaviors.

Mating Behaviors

When a female cat goes into heat, male cats in the area will take notice. Unneutered male cats will become very attentive and affectionate, rubbing against the female cat and grooming her more often. They will also patrol the area, marking with strong-smelling urine, and get into fights with other male cats competing for the female.

The male cat will attempt to mate by biting the back of the female’s neck and holding her in place while he mounts her. The female cat will signal her readiness to mate by assuming a mating stance called lordosis, where she raises her hindquarters and treads her back feet. After mating is complete, the male cat will quickly dismount and walk away.1

To prevent unwanted litters, it’s important to keep female cats indoors while in heat. Male cats are very driven to mate and can be quite persistent, so they should be kept separated. Neutering your pets is the best way to curb mating behaviors and avoid contributing to the overpopulation of unwanted cats.


Pseudopregnancy, also known as false pregnancy, is a condition that can occur in female cats after heat if they ovulate but do not get pregnant. It happens because the cat’s body still reacts to the hormonal changes of pregnancy even without an actual pregnancy occurring. Some key signs of pseudopregnancy in cats include mammary gland enlargement, nesting behaviors, appetite changes, and behavioral changes like attention-seeking and mothering of toys or other pets [1].

After a heat cycle concludes, some cats may continue to show physical signs of pregnancy even without kittens. This is because their bodies still produce hormones like progesterone and prolactin that mimic pregnancy. These hormones cause changes like mammary gland enlargement, mild abdominal distension, nausea, and nesting habits. The duration of pseudopregnancy can last [2] a few weeks in cats as their hormone levels eventually return to normal.

There’s no need to treat pseudopregnancy unless symptoms like lethargy or decreased appetite persist. Providing good nutrition and minimizing stress can help cats through a false pregnancy. Spaying is also recommended to prevent future episodes. If abnormal behaviors last beyond 1-2 months, veterinary examination is advised to check for conditions like ovarian cysts. Otherwise, pseudopregnancy in cats after heat is a benign condition that resolves on its own as hormones regulate.

When to See a Vet

when to see a vet about heat

If your cat is experiencing her first heat cycle, it’s a good idea to make an appointment with your veterinarian to discuss spaying options. Spaying your cat before her first heat cycle significantly reduces the risk of mammary tumors later in life.

There are also certain symptoms during heat cycles that warrant a trip to the vet. These include:

  • Excessive vocalizing or restlessness for more than a day or two
  • Loss of appetite or lethargy
  • Signs of illness like vomiting or diarrhea
  • A green or yellow discharge from the vagina
  • Swollen or irritated vulva
  • Straining or difficulty urinating
  • Depression or hiding for more than a day or two

If you notice any of these concerning symptoms in your cat while she’s in heat, contact your veterinarian. They can examine your cat, run any necessary tests, and provide medical treatment as needed.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top