How to care for a cat in heat

What does it mean when your cat is in heat?

Only female cats go into heat or known as estrus. Although male cats don’t go into estrus themselves they do smell the female cat during this stage and want to mate with them. If you’ve ever had a cat and have experienced her going into heat than you know the frustration and the work it entails to deal with her emotional and physical changes. It’ll almost seem as if overnight your cat will turn into a different animal quite literally.

Her personality and her body will go through dramatic hormonal changes and behavioral changes as well. It may seem as if she’s gone crazy but don’t be alarmed. Sometimes a quick visit to the veterinarian will help you during this trying time. In this article we’ll discuss the different stages of heat, how to prevent it, home remedies to help your cat and many more topics related to this sometimes crazy stage of a cat’s life. This would be a great time for you to show your cat extra love and care as she goes through what is a sometimes difficult time.

How can you help a cat in heat?

A cat in heat can be a very hard situation to deal with for you and your cat. The sounds they make while in heat can have you running for the hills. Since you love your cat you want to try to help it as much as possible and you want to avoid her getting pregnant, thankfully there are some great tips you can try to calm her down and make her feel very comfortable.

  • Pet and brush your cat a bit more during this time – during the mating times your cat should receive a little extra attention. Not only for comfort but also because it calms her down and lowers her stress level. Stroking, petting, cuddling, and brushing will help her immensely.
  • Give your cat space – during this trying time your cat might be a little aggressive and for good reason. It’s best to give your cat needed space. As long as she’s comfortable and safe, any space where she feels good, peaceful and is quiet is a good space.
  • Extra playtime is necessary – when a cat is in heat all she wants to do is mate. Therefore, providing her with ample playtime will keep her stay very busy.
  • Secure the Perimeter – A cat in heat turns in a professional escape artist before your eyes. If she sees a male cat during this time she will want to go to him because she’s very excited and wants to mate. On that note keep everything closed from windows to doors and even curtains just, so she’s not tempted by anything she sees.
  • Calming music helps – an interesting fact to know is, animals love music as well. Playing soothing classical, jazz or ambient music might help your cat relax.
  • Keep the litter box clean at all times – marking territory is what cats do when they’re in heat. So instead of them ruining your furniture or floors, they’ll mark their territory in their liter box.
  • Be patient – the best thing you can do for your cat while in heat is to be patient. Doing this can help with their stress and discomfort. She doesn’t ask to want to be in heat.
  • Spay your cat – Although it’s considered as major surgery because they go into your cat’s abdomen and remove the ovaries and the uterus; this procedure is very safe and routine which is performed by a qualified vet.
  • Keep her warm – cats feel very comfortable when they’re sitting on a warm towel, cloth or a warm heat pack. Be careful that nothing gets too or it might burn them and then that causes another problem.
  • Herbal remedies – Herbal remedies aren’t only limited to humans instead your furry friend can also benefit from a few specific ones that we’ll go through later on. If you do consider using these remedies consult with a vet first to make sure the specific herbs you decide to use are safe for your cat.
  • Pheromone Products – Pheromone products have been around for over 15 years now and the main purpose of these products is to help cats going through anxiety problems such as spraying, scratching and aggression. These products aren’t specific for cats in heat but you can always consult your vet for a medical opinion.

 

 

Is your cat in pain when she’s in heat?

Pain might not be a far cry but discomfort and distress might be better fitted for when your cat is in heat. When a cat’s breeding urges come about, they don’t exactly know how to act, and they’re confused and don’t know what’s going on. Many times a cat in heat will yowl, roll on the floor and even try to escape to go find a mate because the urges are too strong for her to handle. Once the female cat is in heat it will keep happening over and over again until she either mates or is spayed.

 

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When will your cat go into heat and how long does it last?

Your unspayed cat can go into heat as young as 4 months of age, although typically the average age is between six and nine months. This period typically lasts 3 to 14 days through February and October, These un-spayed female cats are referred to as queens which are also polyestrous meaning if they don’t mate they will keep going into heat. As soon as you get a new kitten as your vet how early you can spay her. The vet recommendations usually fall in the line of not allowing any kitten to be spayed after four to six months of age but maybe spayed as early as six to twelve weeks,

 

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What are the stages of heat?

The female cat goes through 4 stages of heat, and they are as follows:

  • Proestrus: During the stage, the queen could attract male cats even though she’s not in heat yet, and she shows no noticeable signs. This stage will last as long as 2 days.
  • Estrus: This stage is the heat stage. For about 3 to 14 days a queen will attract males and will be fully accepting of mating. This stage is typically quite uncomfortable for her especially if she doesn’t end up mating. She’s very loud during this stage, rolls around a lot, rubs on everything on sight raises her rear quite a bit and might have less of an appetite. If the queen mates during this period it stimulates hormones that induce ovulation but for pregnancy to occur she has to mate at least 4 times during estrus. The queen can give birth to kittens that have different fathers at once if she mates with different males during this time.
  • Interestrus: This stage only comes about if the queen doesn’t mate or become pregnant during estrus. Interestrus, as the name suggests, is the period between heats. Around this time her estrogen level will drop, and she shows no signs. The heat cycle will then restart again after about two days to three weeks. The first 3 stages which include proestrus, estrus and interestrus will continue all through the mating season or until she becomes pregnant.
  • Anestrus: In this stage, the female cat’s reproductive hormones aren’t active and the estrus cycle is non-existent because she’s not in season for mating. From spring to fall is when feral and outdoor cats are in heat since the light from the longer days stimulates her hormone production. From October to January the queen doesn’t go into heat because of the shorter days but indoor cats, on the other hand, are exposed to artificial light all years which enables them to go through the cycles’ year-round.

 

What happens when a cat goes in heat?

When your cat is in heat you’ll pick up clear signs that she’s not okay. Her strange behavior and change in mood are two of the more obvious signs but there are, and here are some of those other sign:

  • She’s very loud – Extreme loud meowing with non-stop yowling are both signs your cat is in heat. Usually, the excessive noise is because she’s calling out to male cats in hopes that they hear her, and they mate.
  • She’s extremely affectionate – if you notice your cat is very affectionate all of a sudden, and she’s rubbing onto everything in sight including you this is a clear sign of being in heat. She may even be rolling around on the floor; She’s doing this because she’s spreading her scent everywhere to attract all the tomcats.
  • She relentless – she can’t seem to stay still, she’s very uncomfortable, agitated and constantly pacing around the house specifically around doors, windows and pet flaps.
  • Constantly wants to leave the house – Your once “chilled” cat may now become extremely determined to leave the house every chance she gets. She may stare out the window more often or rush to the door if she hears it. Her goal is to keep spreading her scent to possibly mate. If you have an outdoor cat and notice she’s not coming home more frequently more times than not she’s in heat.
  • Constantly grooming her genitals – Cats are self groomers by nature but, if you notice she’s constantly licking her genitals and you see that it may be moist with a clear mucus-like discharge that sometimes has small hints of blood or watery vaginal discharge and its swollen, this is a big sign that she’s in heat. On the other hand, if your cat is spayed, and she’s displaying similar behavior chances are she’s contracted an infection and you need to contact the vet.
  • She assumes the mating position (the standing estrus posture) – Her tail and rear-end are both raised which means she’s ready for her mate and its almost a “considerate” position because it makes it easier for her male counterpart to mate with her. She pressed her front elbows towards the floor, back legs crouched, she pushes her butt in the air, and she holds her tail to the side for her genitals to be exposed. Her back feet may look like she’s marching or treading also known as “making biscuits.” “Making Biscuits” is known to help with ovulation.
  • Spraying – Although male cats are known for spraying, female cats in heat sometimes spray as well. An increased level of pheromones in her urine is contained in her pee which allows male cats to sense her presence, in a way she’s letting all the males know she’s receptive to mating. On the other hand, spraying can also mean she has a UTI so, take your cat to the vet to be sure.

How to stop a cat’s heat cycle

The first reason you should be concerned about cat heat is the fact that a kitten can get pregnant from her first heat. The hormones make her very willing to find a mate. It’s almost a painful experience to go through especially if you’re new to caring for a cat. There are ways to prevent this from happening one, in particular, is very popular amongst cat owners and vets alike.

 

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What is a cat Spay?

A spay is the removal of a female cat’s ovaries and uterus. This procedure is necessary because every young female cat will eventually go into heat and potentially become pregnant and all this can happen as early as 4 months. Research has suggested spaying a cat before the heat cycle starts has multiple advantages; let’s look further into spaying.

 

What are the Benefits of Spaying?

Spaying your female cat can quite simply save you a world of headaches and it presents more benefits than risk. Not to mention that each year in the US thousands of cats are abandoned or lost and unspayed females can contribute to the overpopulation of wild feral cats on the streets of our cities. Here are some benefits of spaying your ca according to the American Society for the prevention of cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). Contact the ASPCA here

  • She won’t have to go into heat – not only will you not have to go through all the sleepless nights but your cat will be at peace. She won’t have to go through the frustration, the spraying, the crazy behavioral change etc.
  • She will live longer – Her risk of uterine infections and breast tumors significantly goes down. These tumors are very dangerous to 90% of cases that develop them.
  • Disease prevention – If your cat is spayed early enough it prevents mammary cancer
  • This procedure will save you money – If your cat gets pregnant and you have to take care of a whole litter its very expensive.
  • Control the cat homelessness crisis – it’s a very unfortunate situation in the United States with millions of healthy cats that don’t have homes and many of them are put down due to the growing population.

The spay procedure

Your cat is fully monitored from her heart rate, breathing, oxygen level, and her temperature. To regulate her temperature she’ll have a warming pad on her back, An incision is made below where a human belly button is located, this incision goes down the abdomen. The ovaries and uterus are then removed and the cervix tied off, at times the veterinarians may leave the uterus instead of removing it because the ovaries are what brings about the heat and everything else.

The vet has to confirm that there’s no bleeding and only then will the incision be closed. Sutures are placed under the cats’ skin and either skin staples, glue or sutures are used to close the skin’s top layer. After the procedure is finished all the tubes will be removed and the vet closely monitors her until she’s released. If your cat had any staples or sutures placed they will be removed between ten and 14 days after the procedure.

 

What to expect after your cat has been spayed?

For extra precautions, some vets keep your cat overnight to minimize too much movement. Sending the cat home the same day is also what other vets do.

  • It’s normal if your cat is a bit groggy
  • Have no appetite the first night back.
  • A bit of soreness is normal and vets send home pain medication
  • Discharge coming out if the incision site, contact your vet to get it assessed.
  • In some cases, antibiotics are needed
  • An Elizabeth collar may be sent with you to keep her from licking cause that might cause irritation, infection, and opening of the incision site.

After the first night, your cat should slowly go back to normal; more alert and should have her appetite back. If by the 3rd night the cat is not feeling better you should call your veterinarian for advice.

These concerns may come up after the spay

Does the cat gain weight after the spay?

A spayed cat has no estrogen which may cause weight gain due to increased appetite. Spaying a cat has also been connected to slowing down metabolism. Talking to your veterinarian about a new diet for your cat is at times necessary.

Can a spayed cat still be in heat?

A cat without ovaries can’t go into heat, however, some ovarian tissues sometimes go down the ovarian ligaments. When this occurs your cat will show signs of heat but will be unable to get pregnant due to the lack of uterus. When you see this occur contact your vet for further analysis on your cat. If necessary more surgery will have to be done to remove the rest of the ovarian tissues.

Are There Feline Contraceptives?

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Yes. If you don’t feel comfortable with the surgical method of spaying you can always try feline contraceptives to protect your cat against continuous cycles of heat. People typically try this method if they’re breeding their cats on their own time. Some contraceptives that are available on the market today are GonaCon, Ovaban, Depo-Provera, Norplant, Promone. Consult your veterinarian about alternatives to spaying.

 

Typically, to prevent ovulation, medicine is administered but not all kinds of medication are 100% effective and some may even have side effects such as:

  • Reproductive disorder problems
  • Weight gain may be an issue
  • Increased risk of diabetes could be a serious concern

It’s a very good idea to ask your vet if this method will work for your cat and to go over the pros and cons. Don’t forget to always consult your veterinarian.

 

Home remedies for a cat in heat

Some are already naturally stressed so when you add a cat in heat, its almost a gold mine, fortunately, there are home remedies you can easily administer to calm your cat down she’s a little out of control from her crazy hormones. These are some herbs and flower essences you can use to calm down your cat.

  • Catnip – Give catnip to your cat about 15 minutes before you think she will get be very stressed. Unfortunately, catnip is a hit or a miss.
  • Valerian – Valerian is almost identical to catnip in terms of administering except after this herb has taken effect she won’t only calm down, but she’ll also go to sleep.
  • Chamomile – The dried up flowers help cats relieve stress and make them more relaxed. The equivalent of anti-anxiety drugs is the same effect chamomile has on cats.
  • Bach Rescue Remedy – although not technically a herb Bach helps relieve stress and anxiety almost immediately. For a cat in heat going through crazy changes all at the time, this is the perfect remedy for them. A note to remember is to purchase the alcohol-free version.
  • Folliculinum – If you want a remedy that directly affects the female cats’ hormonal system the Folliculinum is what you’re looking for. Talking to your vet about dosage will enable you to know exactly what to give your cat.

There are many ways to administer these remedies, its best to speak to a homeopathic veterinarian to guide you to the right path when it comes to helping your little furball. You wouldn’t want to make problems worse for yourself especially when you’re already dealing with a cat in heat.

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