Surviving your cat’s mating season can be trying. Felines that have not been spayed go into heat several times a year. A queen, the term for a cat in her reproductive years, may go into heat every three weeks or so. She’s not very secretive about it. The behavior of a cat in heat is often irritating to humans. You’ll have to be patient while waiting out the week of her hormonal cycle. If you’re not into cat breeding, you’ll also have to keep your feline indoors to prevent her from getting pregnant.
The Feline Reproductive Cycle
We don’t learn a lot about the feline reproductive cycle in health class. Therefore, you may be caught off guard if you don’t spay your kitten before she enters her first heat cycle. According to Revival Animal Health, most cats go through puberty when they are five to nine months old. However, heat cycles correspond with seasonal signals. Cats normally go into heat when the weather is warmer and the days are longer. From September to January, a feline’s ovaries tend to be inactive. When early spring hits, cats start their heat cycles. An intact cat that stays indoors could go into heat throughout the year if she is exposed to long hours of artificial light.
Before your pet reaches the stage in which she can become pregnant, her ovaries start to become active. This is called the proestrus period and lasts from one to four days. This stage is followed by the estrus period, during which your cat can get pregnant. Unlike humans, cats don’t ovulate unless they engage in sexual activity. A cat that doesn’t ovulate will continue to cycle through reproductive periods every two or three weeks. If she does copulate with a male, she will ovulate and increase her chances of getting pregnant.
Signs That Your Cat Is In Heat
Before your cat goes into heat, she will rub her rear against just about anything: people, furniture, and walls are favorites. Even if your cat is a neat freak that licks herself frequently, you’ll start to notice that her grooming behavior changes when she is in heat. She’ll begin to clean her genital area excessively. Then, she’ll start to send out a mating call. The meowing is loud and incessant. It might even sound like your queen is in pain. She’s not. This is normal hormonal behavior.
Some cats mark their territory by spraying a strong-smelling urine on vertical surfaces. She’ll back up, raise her tail, and spray a jet of liquid onto your walls. You can’t stop her from doing this, but you can prevent it from causing odors with some easy steps. Wash the area right away with an enzymatic cleaner, which breaks down the urine. Spraying a deodorizing disinfectant on the area may prevent your feline from marking the same area again. If your cat has sprayed on soft material, clean it with a fabric-safe solution. If you can, dry it in the sun to eliminate residual odors.
Helping Your Cat Stay Calm
Queens can make aggressive-sounding noises if they spot a male cat out the window. While your cat is in heat, you may want to restrict her view of the outside world. Tomcats can smell a cat in heat from several blocks to a mile away. Don’t be surprised if your kitty has a line of willing suitors waiting outside. You’ll need to be extra vigilant about preventing her from sneaking out an open door or window if you’re not planning to breed her.
A cat will be extra clingy during her cycle. She might follow you around, rubbing on your legs and demanding a back rub. Pet her on her lower back, near her tail. She’ll respond by holding her tail to the side, exposing her genital area. She may also roll around on the floor or crawl with her chest on the floor and rear raised high. This is normal.
Play with your cat, and give her plenty of attention during this time. Using her favorite toy to get her to run around the house can exhaust her so that she doesn’t yowl throughout the night. Lots of petting and kitty massage can help her settle down. Brushing her can help her relax and stimulate the spot at the base of the tail that needs some attention.
Should You Spay Your Cat?
If you are planning to breed your cat, it helps to know the animal’s history. Did she come from a line of healthy animals? Are you familiar with the male cat’s background? It is important to understand whether the cats’ mothers had easy births. Sometimes, breeding is not a good idea. This is especially true if one of the animals’ mothers had a difficult time in pregnancy or labor.
The only way to prevent heat cycles in the long term is to spay your cat. In addition to preventing pregnancy, spaying has health benefits for your kitty, according to Cattime.com. Regular heat cycles put felines at risk for developing other health conditions because they stress out her body. Spaying can also prevent cats from developing reproductive cancers. Doing the surgery before your cat’s first heat greatly reduces her risk of getting mammary gland tumors, which are usually cancerous.
If you can’t afford to spay her, find out if there are local clinics that will do it at a discount or for free. Because accidental pregnancies lead to abandoned and euthanized animals, many veterinarians provide cheap spaying services. The cost of raising a litter of kittens exceeds the price of the surgery.
If your spayed cat is exhibiting the behavior described above, you might want to take her to the veterinarian. Ovarian tissue that’s left in the cat’s body during the surgery can cause hormonal reactions that mimic those of intact felines. Your vet can check her hormone levels or do exploratory surgery to figure out what’s going on. Plus, you’ll want to rule out any serious medical conditions if your cat is acting funny.