Keeping an intact cat in your home equates to a lot of additional responsibility. You’re prepared to shoulder that; after all, your cat is worth it. Still, it seems that when your cat is in heat, she experiences a lot of extra anxiety and stress, and you want to do all that you can to help reduce that for her.
Cat Heat Cycles
Female cats experience regular heat cycles lasting three to four weeks during prime breeding season which is typically late spring or summer. A heat cycle generally indicates that a female cat is ready to be bred. When a cat experiences a heat cycle, she will go through various stages. In some stages, she will be more interested in deterring interested male parties; while in others, she will be very amorous and seeking to find a suitable mate through all means necessary. Regardless, all stages are quite noisy and can be very distressing for your cat, your family, and your neighbors.
Still, it is important to remember that all of this behavior is quite normal for your cat. While howling, screeching, and attempts to run away are nuisance behaviors for you as the owner, it is part and parcel of living with an intact cat.
Calming a Cat in Heat
While the process of experiencing a heat cycle may be natural, it can be upsetting to your cat, particularly if it is her first time in season. Thankfully, there are some things that you can do to help your cat feel more calm and comforted.
Among the things that you can do are:
Recognize the signs your cat is in season
If you own a female cat, it is important for you to be able to recognize when your cat is beginning her season. After all, many of the symptoms of a heat cycle are similar to what a cat will experience when she is unwell.
When a female cat is in heat, it is quite normal for her to become far more vocal. She will also find it difficult to settle and will seek more affection from her family than is typical. Many cats will also roll around on the floor in the hopes of getting a belly rub. Much like female dogs in heat, some cats will also “flag” their tails, by holding it to the side to direct attention to the fact that they are getting ready to mate.
Protect her from male attention
When you cat is in heat, she will begin the process of seeking a suitable mate. The instinct is impossible to divert. Cats are ingenious escape artists when the urge to procreate calls. For this reason, great care must be taken to ensure your cat is never allowed in contact with an intact male cat. With the cat overpopulation at epidemic proportions, kittens are becoming harder and harder to place. For this reason, it is critical that you take all appropriate measures to ensure that an oops breeding never occurs.
Provide a warm bed
Just like a woman experiencing her menstrual cycle, your cat will suffer with cramps. Many of them find relief from the pain when able to sit upon a warm surface. Some people choose to heat a “magic bag” in the microwave. You can also make use of an orthopedic pet bed or even warm some blankets or towels in your dryer for your cat to sit on.
Give her catnip to relax her
Some cats experience a zen-like high from playing with or ingesting catnip. If catnip seems to have a calming effect on your cat, now is a good time to let her have a little bit to enjoy.
Try an herbal remedy
Many different herbal remedies also alleviate uncomfortable symptoms as a result of a heat cycle. It is important to note that since cats are individuals what works for one cat may not work for yours.
It is important that you always choose a high quality herbal supplement designed for pet use only. Since human supplements are generally compounded in far higher dosages than are safe for feline use, it is critical that you never use a supplement intended for a human on a cat.
Use a pheromone diffuser
Pheromone diffusers are often used by veterinarians in their clinics to induce a state of calmness in their patients. Research shows that it takes approximately two weeks for an efficacy to be reached with a cat. If you attempt to use a pheromone diffuser, you may not see results this heat cycle, but you will be able to use it in the future at the first sign a cycle is beginning.
Clean her litterbox
Cats are extremely sensitive to scents when they are in heat. Keeping your cat’s litterbox pristinely clean will be a very important step in helping her to remain in a calm state. It is particularly important that you avoid using any ammonia-based cleaners which can replicate the scent of cat urine.
Keep her occupied
When all else fails, make a trip to the pet store for toys. Keeping your cat occupied will help shift her mind from her discomfort and overwhelming desire to mate.
Should you Spay?
Though there are many health benefits to be reaped from keeping your cat intact, many pet owners simply just don’t have the time or energy to deal with the hassles. Still with the cat overpopulation problem as grave as it is, you don’t want to accidentally contribute to the problem.
Spaying is the only permanent means to alleviate painful heat cycles and potential accidental breedings. Your cat was born with a desire to procreate, and that overwhelming instinct will not lessen with time. Because of this, most veterinarians highly recommend spaying your cat. It will help alleviate frustrations and discomfort, leading to a much more contented animal to live with.
Is your cat in heat and driving you crazy? Follow the simple tips in this article to help your cat weather through her season like a champ!