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Few sounds are quite as disconcerting as a yowling cat in heat. If you've ever been awakened by amorous caterwauling outside your window, you know how unsettling it can be. You might put your earplugs in, or bury your head in your pillow and hope that the neighborhood cats find another place for their noisy trysts.
But when the cat in question is your roommate, you can't just cross your fingers and hope that she moves along. Thankfully, there are some tips you can follow to help ease the stress (and noise) that go along with your cat's mating season.
For some cats, a little extra attention may help ease the stress of estrus. Give your feline friend some extra attention around the home when she's in heat, and you may find that it calms her down and keeps her stress levels manageable.
Some cats may prefer to be left alone when they're in heat, unless the attention comes from a potential suitor. She may be irritable or act aggressively, but don't take it personally. Just make sure she has a comfortable, private space such as a cat tree or the top shelf of a closet where she can escape the commotion when she needs peace and quiet.
For cats, the urge to mate is instinctual. So is the urge to hunt. Try to keep your cat occupied with exciting toys that stir her hunting instincts. It may take her mind off her other drives.
A cat in heat is an escape artist par excellence. Be sure to keep your home secure, and seal off any potential escape routes, such as windows, doggie doors, and easily opened screen doors.
Some cat owners swear by herbal remedies, and there may be some truth to their efficacy. Rescue Remedy is a popular choice, and if catnip has a calming effect on your cat, it may be a good choice as well. However, avoid constantly dosing your cat with herbal remedies; use them only in moderation when nothing else works.
Humans aren't the only ones who love music; some animals really enjoy it, too. Fill your home with the sounds of relaxed classical, smooth jazz, or ambient electronic music. You never know—it might help your cat stay relaxed, and it could mask some of the howling.
Cats love to mark their territory, especially when in heat. By keeping the litter box clean and free of cat urine, you'll encourage your cat to keep marking it, instead of marking your carpet or sofa. Also, it's wise to avoid ammonia cleaners; they may stimulate spraying behavior.
According to most veterinarians, spaying a cat during heat is less than ideal. It can be done, but there's an increased potential for surgical complications.
However, if you have no intention of breeding your cat, consider spaying her. That way, you won't have to deal with this situation in the future, and you'll prevent the birth of unwanted litters.
Noisy, aggressive, prone to escape attempts: cats can be annoying when they're in heat, but it's important to be patient with your pet. She didn't ask to be in heat, and a little patience and care from you can help them get through it with minimal stress and discomfort.
Dr. Evan Ware is a veterinary practitioner in Phoenix, Arizona. He received both his undergraduate degree in microbiology and his Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from The Ohio State University.
Dr. Ware is currently the Medical Director of University Animal Hospital (VCA) and is also the owner of two other hospitals, including Laveen Veterinary Center and Phoenix Veterinary Center. His areas of expertise include orthopedic medicine and surgery, veterinary oncology and chemotherapy, and general and advanced soft-tissue surgery.
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