What’s the deal with cats in heat?
Why do they sound like tortured ghosts, and will it ever end?!
If you’ve chosen not to have your cat spayed or neutered, be ready for everything that comes with the period in their reproductive cycle known as “heat.” There will be yowling, pacing, and even something called spraying which is about as gross as it sounds. Let’s take a deep-dive into what your cat’s yowling means during heat, and what you can do about it.
The Basics of Being in Heat
Although unneutered male cats can display obvious symptoms when their bodies are telling them to mate, it’s females who get the brunt of heat. Heat (technically known as “estrus”) in female cats happens several times a year, and it’s basically just a cat’s body’s way of telling the world she’s ready to become pregnant. Cats can enter their first heat at as young as 4-6 months or as old as 10-12 months; vets recommend having your cat spayed before she ever enters heat for a variety of reasons.
Symptoms of Heat
When your female cat is in heat, you’ll know it. She’ll likely display a variety of common symptoms for days at a time, and up to two weeks; it’s nature’s way of alerting male cats to her fertile state. Signs include:
- Extremely loud and constant “yowling,” and other unusual vocalizations
- Excessive affection, rubbing, and desire to be petted
- Restlessness, or even an attempt to escape home to find a mate
- Spraying a fine ring of urine around your home to mark her territory
- Assumption of the mating position when you pet her
Let’s Talk About the Yowling
By far and away, the most frequent complaints vets receive from cat owners whose cats are in heat concerns the yowling. Yowling isn’t regular meowing. It’s specific to the heat cycle and it’s intended to be loud, annoying, and attention-getting. It drives most unspayed pet owners crazy because it happens around the clock every month or two for several days at a time.
So, what can you do about the yowling? Not much, unfortunately! Yowling is your cat’s natural response to the changes going on inside her body, and there’s only one solution: getting her “fixed.” Spaying your cat will stop her from experiencing any heat-related symptoms including yowling, with the benefit of potentially keeping her healthier, too.
When Do I Need to Call the Vet?
Yowling during heat can be pretty alarming, especially if your cat is only a few months old. It’s always a good idea to reach out to your vet if your cat is making any unusual noises so they can make sure there aren’t underlying medical causes. Eventually, though, you’ll learn to recognize the difference between your cat in heat and a fork stuck in the garbage disposal.