Those of us who have lived with an unspayed (intact, unsterilised, not neutered) female cat know all too well the behavioural changes she exhibits when she comes into heat (also called estrus) every three weeks or so starting at about six months old. Different cats exhibit these signs of heat to different degrees. Not a few newbie cat owners, seeing these behaviours for the first time, have thought their cats might be ill. On the safe side, if you are confused whether your cat is exhibiting signs of illness or signs of heat, a quick visit to the veterinarian would be helpful.
Is Your Queen in Heat?
The behavioural changes in a cat in heat include the cat becoming very affectionate, sometimes to the point of becoming demanding of attention. She becomes overly active and restless, rubbing herself against people or things, rolling on the floor and, when touched near her tail, she raises her hindquarters. There will be more frequent urination and sometimes even urine spraying. Sometimes she will become so agitated that she might try to escape, to go outside,through any open windows or doors. She will also begin to call out very loudly, oftentimes to the point of it sounding like a howl or a screech, and she vocalises almost continuously throughout the day! These signs of heat cannot be controlled or stopped because they are natural, but there are some home remedies you can do to at least keep your queen comfortable during this period.
Close and lock all windows and doors which she may use to escape outside. Aside from keeping your cat safe inside, doing this also reduces the smells of the “calling cards” left by the neighbourhood Romeos who, at this point, may have already formed a line outside your window. If needed, close the window curtains too so your girl will not be able to look out and see tomcats which may make her more agitated and further want to escape.
Make Queen Feel Comfy and Loved
To deal with the almost ceaseless howling, it may help to either keep her warm or cool, depending on what she prefers and what will seem to relax her. If she prefers warmth, you can give her a heat pack or a warm towel or blanket to sit on. Ideally, place her in a room that keeps her away from intrusions and sudden loud noises. Give her extra physical attention by petting, brushing, massaging while talking to her in a soft voice. You may also try to distract her attention by playing with her. Catnip may help some cats to calm down but different cats can have different reactions to it so make sure to know first how you cat reacts to a little catnip before giving more to her.
Keep Litter-box Tidy and Air Pleasant
To help tone down some of the urine spraying and marking, you may try cleaning her litter-box more frequently to encourage her to use it. Certain synthetic pheromones (substances produced by animals that affect the behaviour of others of its species) and herbal-based remedies that supposedly have soothing and calming effects on cats may be available in your local pet supplies store. Remember not to use human products on cats and it is still best to consult with your veterinarian first before using these feline products on your pet no matter how safe they claim to be.
Signs of heat may be minimised by the remedies outlined above but the only way to permanently stop them is by spaying. Having your female cat spayed prevents unwanted pregnancies and removes the discomfort she experiences every time she cycles. The procedure also significantly decreases the chances of your furbaby having mammary tumours later in life. The bottom line is, spaying is beneficial for your cat’s health and welfare, and for your own mental and psychological well-being as well.