We are in the middle of spring, with summer just around the corner, a propitious time for millions of female cats to go into heat. If your kitten is between 8 and 10 months old, this will be her first heat, and probably at this moment you are about to go crazy because you don’t know very well how to handle this situation.
A female cat’s heat is that time in her sexual cycle when she can accept the male. Their mating instinct can become really intense. And when we say intense, we mean meowing all night long, the cat rubbing herself all over, and she can be irascible and adopt postures that invite copulation. Another discomfort of having a cat in heat at home is the habit they have of «marking» the place (your house) with their scent.
Unlike other mammals, such as dogs, cats do not stain, so do not expect this to happen. If you have doubts about whether your cat is experiencing her first heat, in addition to the attitude we have mentioned, you can try touching her lower back. If she is in heat, the cat will move her tail out of the way to make it easier for the male to do his job.
Numerous studies have shown that the old belief that it was better to allow female cats to have a litter at least once in their lives, and in any case before spaying, is false. And in fact, although some veterinarians used to recommend letting the cat have a couple of heats before undergoing this operation, now more and more experts are recommending a complete sterilization before her first heat, to avoid later complications and above all, because it minimizes the possibility of developing mammary tumors later on.
If you choose not to sterilize your cat (some owners allow her to be spayed because it seems to them the most natural procedure in a cat’s life) remember that you will be responsible for finding a home for the kittens born in a few weeks. To counteract the effects of heat without pregnancy, you can also use a hormonal therapy administered by your veterinarian, but this should be the last option available.
In any case, if your cat is in heat, you should know that most veterinarians prefer to wait until it is over before facing a sterilization operation, so you still have a few days left to deal with it.
Practical tips for calming a cat in heat
Once you have ruled out other causes that may be provoking this behavior, you can follow the following advice:
- Be very affectionate with the cat, especially if she asks for it, for example by petting her and brushing her fur more assiduously.
- Place the cat on a warm blanket, or a seed warmer that you can put in the microwave, since the heat seems to calm them down.
- Avoid any contact, not only physical (obviously) but even visual with male cats that may be in the area, for example by preventing their access to windows and balconies with a cardboard, lowering the shutter or similar.
- Try catnip: some cats find it calming, but others find it has the opposite effect. It is a matter of trying it once to see what happens, and repeat or not according to the results.
- In addition, to avoid marking, it is recommended to always keep the litter box very clean, avoid cleaning the house with ammonia (the smell reminds her of urine and she feels the need to mark in that place) and use a Feliway type spray.
We hope that with these tips your kitten passes the heat as well as possible, but in any case, as always, we recommend that if you have any doubt, or to solve this issue definitively, it is best that you contact your veterinarian.