How to Calm a Cat in Heat
An un-spayed female cat will go into heat, meaning she's ready to mate, every three to four weeks.Usually, this involves howls, screeches, writhing, and attempts to attract or run away with male cats.Calming the cat down is hard, and more importantly, it's only temporary. This is natural, normal behavior for a cat in heat, no matter how annoying it is to owners. If it's too much to handle, seek a long-term solution instead of a quick fix.
Calming a Cat in Heat
Recognize that your cat is in heat.Make sure that the behavior your cat is expressing actually means that she’s in heat and not sick. An unspayed cat in heat will vocalize a lot, be restless, rub against people and objects, and roll around on the floor. If you stroke her lower back, she'll respond by raising her pelvis and shifting her tail to one side.
- The normal breeding season for cats is between spring and late summer. She will likely go into heat during this time of year.
- Decide if your cat's in heat or sick. If she's acting restless, but not rubbing herself against everything and lifting her tail to the side, she may be in pain. Take her to the vet to find out what's going on.
Veterinarian Pippa Elliot notes:"Cats usually have their first heat at about 5 ½ to 6 months of age. However, this depends on the weather and how easy food is for the cat to come by. For example, in spring, a well-fed cat may come into heat as young as 5 months old."
Isolate her from male cats.When she's in heat, your cat will grow even more excitable in the presence of males. Do not allow her outside at all, and close all windows and lock all doors, including pet flaps. To keep her calm (and prevent her from getting pregnant), you need to keep her away from all male cats. Isolation will also keep her safe — she may try to escape your home if she senses a male outside.
- If you have a male cat in the same house, find a friend or hire a cat sitter to take him in for a couple weeks. If the two cats stay in the same area, they'll both act wild, and almost certainly end up mating.
- If male cats are visible through a window, cover the window with curtains or a piece of cardboard.
Give your cat something warm to sit on.Although success is not guaranteed, some people find that giving the cat a heat pack or a warm, wet towel to sit on keeps her still and calm.A microwavable heat pack may be the easiest option, since you can quickly reheat it once the cat starts acting up again. An electric heat pad/blanket is also a good choice.
Use catniponlyif it calms your cat down.Cats respond very differently to catnip. Some relax and quiet down when given catnip, but other become energetic and aggressive.If you don't know how your cat responds to catnip, avoid this method. It may make the situation even worse.
- Note that this is only a temporary fix, but it might buy you an hour or two of peace.
Test whether herbal remedies are effective.There are many herbal remedies on the market intended to calm cats. Some cat owners report success, but there is no single remedy that works on every cat. Furthermore, your cat may not respond to any of these products. Buy a collection of small samples and try several different remedies. Once you've found a product that works for your cat, buy it in larger amounts.
- Follow the instructions on the labels. They may tell you to add the remedy to the cat's water, rub a few drops into the cat's fur, or use as an air freshener.
- Do not use products intended for humans, which likely use higher dosages.
Use Feliway in your home.Feliway is a synthetic cat pheromone that has a soothing, calming effect on cats. It takes a couple weeks of exposure to begin calming cats down, though, so it's not an immediate fix. If you know your cat is unspayed, you might consider plugging in the Feliway diffuser at the beginning of breeding season (spring). That way, whenever she goes into heat, the Feliway will already be built up in her system.
Keep her litter box clean.Cats often scent mark with urine to attract males when they are in heat. By keeping her litter box clean at all times, you might encourage her to use it instead of scent marking your home. If she scent marks anyway, clean and de-odorize the area immediately. Leaving the smell of urine behind will only drive her to keep doing it.
- Don't use cleaning products with ammonia. Ammonia is also found naturally in urine, and the smell will encourage her to mark that spot again.
Play with your cat.Playing with your cat can distract her temporarily, but she'll often go straight back to howling after you're done. Petting, scratching, or brushing her lower back can be more effective, if your cat is already calm enough to let you do so.
Spaying and Other Long-Term Solutions
Spay the cat.Spaying a cat removes her ovaries and prevents the heat cycle from occurring. It prevents her from getting pregnant, and reduces the risk of certain cancers and other diseases.
- If you can't afford the surgery, look for low-cost spay services. Many clinics offer this service at a reduced price because it reduces the population of stray cats.
- Look up your area in the databases listed on the USDA website.
- There is a small chance of leftover ovarian tissue sending the cat into heat even after the surgery. If this occurs, consult a veterinarian.
Consider waiting until after the heat is over before spaying.A vet can perform the spaying procedure at any point in your cat's hormonal cycle — even when she's in heat. However, there's a risk of increased blood loss at that time. The procedure is possible, but consult an experienced veterinarian for advice.
Use hormonal therapy as a last resort.The hormones prostaglandin and estrogen can be used to stop a cat’s heat cycle; however, this treatment has serious side effects including uterine infection and tumors.Because of the risks, take this step only when spaying is not an option. Always consult in detail with a vet, who will need to prescribe the hormones and explain how to use them properly.Even if the cat can't be spayed for medical reasons, the risks may not be worth the calm behavior.
QuestionIs it painful for my cat when she's in heat?
Veterinarian, Royal College of Veterinary SurgeonsVeterinarian, Royal College of Veterinary SurgeonsExpert AnswerNo, she is not in pain although it is entirely normal for her to cry out and yowl as if in discomfort. This is just her way of attracting male attention.Thanks!
QuestionHow long does heat in cats last?
Veterinarian, Royal College of Veterinary SurgeonsVeterinarian, Royal College of Veterinary SurgeonsExpert AnswerThis is very variable. A cat can 'call' anywhere between one to seven days. If she doesn't mate she can come into heat again a couple of weeks later. Thus the full cycle takes on average around three weeks.Thanks!
QuestionHow long should you keep a female cat isolated?
Veterinarian, Royal College of Veterinary SurgeonsVeterinarian, Royal College of Veterinary SurgeonsExpert AnswerKeep your cat isolated for the duration of her heat, which lasts about three to five days. Make sure that she is no longer in heat before allowing her to mix with other cats again. You may even want to wait for a full week after her heat begins to be sure that it is over.Thanks!
QuestionHow long is a cat in heat for the first time?
Veterinarian, Royal College of Veterinary SurgeonsVeterinarian, Royal College of Veterinary SurgeonsExpert AnswerThe actual heat lasts around 2 - 3 days, but some females do stay in heat longer, up to about 5 days. The heat cycle is around 21 - 28 days in total, so you can expect to her to repeat heat every 3 - 4 weeks.Thanks!
QuestionCan a cat be spayed when she is in heat?
Veterinarian, Royal College of Veterinary SurgeonsVeterinarian, Royal College of Veterinary SurgeonsExpert AnswerYes. Most vets are happy to spay a female cat when she is in heat. (This is different from dogs, however. It's best to wait until a female dog is out of heat, because of the large blood supply to the womb.)Thanks!
QuestionIs it harmful to rub them on the back of tail?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerNo, but if your cat gives you any sign that they don't like it, you should stop.Thanks!
QuestionDoes a cat in heat lose her appetite?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYes. During heat, the cat may suffer from loss of appetite, but she should still eat a little to keep up her energy. The cat will go back to normal eating behaviors as the heat wears off.Thanks!
QuestionHow do you know if your cat is done with being in heat?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerOnce a cat ends with being in heat, she'll be back to normal. She will be able to sit normally and eat peacefully. But if the cat experiences the symptoms of heat for a long while, consult a veterinarian.Thanks!
QuestionWhat kind of people medicine can I give my cat to help her while she's in heat?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerNone! You should never give people medicine to a cat. Go to a pet store and get the required medicine for a cat. It would be even better to go to the vet and get a prescription, however.Thanks!
QuestionMy cat has been in heat, then it ended and has come back in a short span of time. Is this okay?BusyBee12Community AnswerThat is perfectly normal. Heat in cats usually happens 1-2 times a month, and the time interval can vary crazily.Thanks!
When does the entire heat cycle end for a female cat? How many years do they continue to go into heat?
How do you stimulate ovulation in a cat in heat?
Are the tissues/muscles around the feeding nipples enlarged?
Sources and Citations
- Reproduction in the Dog and Cat. Christianseen. Publisher: Baillierie-Tindal
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of How to Calm a Cat in Heat was reviewed by on July 28, 2019.
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