When a female cat reaches reproductive maturity -- often when she's around 6 months old -- unlike her human counterparts, menstruation won't be a big milestone. Instead, queen cats experience heat cycles that are markedly different from menstruation. Bleeding is not generally part of the equation, luckily for them!
What is Heat?
The feline heat cycle, which is also known as "estrus," typically occurs every two to three weeks or so in unfixed female cats. Most queens go into heat for the first time when they're around 5 or 6 months old, but it varies depending on the individual. Some cats reach maturity at just 4 months, while for other later bloomers, it can take almost a full year! When a cat is in heat, she's ready to mate and breed -- usually very visibly so. Most of the poor thing's behaviors will be driven by her madly raging hormones -- and often to the frustration of everyone around her.
Signs of Estrus
When a female human menstruates once a month, she experiences telltale signs including bleeding for several days, abdominal cramps, a bloated belly and perhaps even mood swings -- watch out, world! On the other hand, the signs of feline heat, for the most part, are nothing like those of human menstruation. If you suspect that your precious kitty is in the midst of her cycle, look out for excessive meowing and yowling sounds, atypical "affectionate" behavior and body language, extreme restlessness, urine spraying and perhaps even a hostile and uber-irritable temperament -- yikes. You may even notice your antsy kitty positioning her body into a classic mating position -- with her rear elevated prominently into the air.
If you happen to notice any bleeding in your cat during heat, however, notify your veterinarian about it. Bloody vaginal discharge is associated with a variety of different health conditions -- and even may be a sign of miscarriage in a pregnant cat. If you think that your pet is menstruating just like a human, she may actually just be miscarrying a litter of kittens, so take her to the vet immediately.
Even though cats don't exactly menstruate, you can prevent your kitty from experiencing her own feline version of it ever again by getting her spayed. The surgical procedure not only eliminates her frustrating heat cycle discomfort, it also helps curb your area's kitty population issue -- nice! After a cat undergoes spaying surgery, she no longer is forced to endure the hormonally influenced behaviors of estrus, whether crying all night or the practically uncontrollable desire to go outside -- phew.
- LSU School of Veterinary Medicine: Feline Estrous Cycle
- University of Wisconsin Madison Department of Animal Sciences: Reproduction in the Canine and Feline
- University of Florida Department of Animal Sciences: Reproduction in the Queen
- Colorado State University: Pregnancy Termination in Dogs and Cats
- ASPCA: Top 10 Reasons to Spay or Neuter Your Pet
- BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images