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Home > Cats > Are Cats in Pain When in Heat? What You Need To Know!

Are Cats in Pain When in Heat? What You Need To Know!

cat in heat lying down

First-time cat owners are often alarmed when they hear their female cats in heat howling loudly. If you have a female cat and wonder if she’s in pain when in heat, the answer is no. Cats do not feel pain when in heat, although they may feel some slight discomfort and agitation.

The howling noise a cat makes while in the heat cycle is not done out of pain but rather to attract a potential suitor. On top of being more vocal than normal, a cat in heat may be more affectionate too. You may notice your female cat in heat wants to be on your lap a lot or is spending a lot of time rubbing up against your leg. Other behaviors you may see in a cat in heat include:

  • Restlessness
  • Crawling along the ground while howling
  • Frequent cleaning of her private areas
  • Trying to escape the house to get outside
  • Urinating to mark her territory

These are all normal behaviors during the heat cycle. Some cats can even refuse to eat, so don’t worry if your cat loses her appetite while in heat.


The Basics of the Cat Heat Cycle

Female cats have a heat cycle that’s also called estrus. Unlike a female human who sheds the uterine lining when having her period, a cat reabsorbs the old uterine lining rather than bleeding it out. You may see a small amount of blood shed during a cat’s heat cycle so don’t panic if you do because it is normal. What you’re more likely to see are the behaviors spelled out above.

A cat’s heat cycle will last about three weeks. During this time, she will be receptive to mating for about one week. During that week, she’ll be working hard to gain the attention of male cats, displaying the behaviors above.

A female cat can mate several different times during estrus which means any kittens she has can come from different fathers. If this surprises you, it shouldn’t!

Maybe you’ve seen a litter of kittens that don’t look anything alike. Perhaps there were lots of colors and kittens with different hair lengths. The mother of those kittens likely mated with more than one male during her heat cycle, resulting in the vast differences between her babies.


Dealing With a Female Cat in Heat

Even though the heat cycle is perfectly normal and something you should expect if you don’t have your female cat spayed, estrus can be an annoying time for you, the cat owner.

Surely you don’t want to listen to non-stop howling or watch behavior you don’t find particularly appealing, like your cat constantly cleaning her genitals. Here are a few ways you can distract and/or calm your cat to make the heat cycle more tolerable for both you and your feline friend.


Consider Spaying Your Female Cat

Spaying is a common term used to describe the surgery involved with sterilizing a female cat. If you don’t plan on mating your female cat and want to get her spayed, that’s great! You and your cat will benefit. Spaying reduces the risk of ovarian and uterine cancers and prevents unplanned pregnancies.

What Are the Signs of Pain in Cats?

Now that you know cats are not in pain when in heat, you may be interested in learning some signs that may indicate that your cat actually is in pain. Cats that are sick or injured often display some telltale behaviors that indicate they’re feeling pain. Some of these behaviors include:

  • Lack of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Disinterest in playing or being social
  • Hiding
  • Sensitivity to touch
  • Reduction in movement
  • Increased irritability
  • Urgent sounding meowing, groaning, hissing, or growling
  • Decreased amount of self-grooming

If you suspect your cat is in pain, contact your veterinarian right away. Tell your vet why you think your cat is feeling pain and explain the behaviors you’re observing. The chances are good that your vet will want to see your cat to conduct a thorough examination.



Even though your female cat may seem like she’s in pain during heat by howling loudly, it is not pain that’s causing her to make that noise. Cats howl while they’re in heat to attract males. Cats go into heat several times a year so if you can’t stand the noise and you don’t want kittens, get your cat spayed as soon as possible.

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Featured Image Credit: rihaij, Pixabay

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