Female cats of reproductive age who haven’t been spayed can go into heat — or estrus — multiple times each year, and ovulate with each mating. These cats are called “queens.” An estrus cycle usually lasts between a week and 10 days, and the queen’s behavior is far from subtle. So, how can you tell if and when a cat is in heat? What are some typical cat in heat sounds that you might hear?
Perhaps you’re familiar with the distressed caterwauling sounds that female cats in heat make while calling a mate. In addition to the yowling vocalizations, other cat in heat sounds often include soft, melodious purrs. Cats in heat also demonstrate overly affectionate behavior.
A cat in heat’s plaintive sounds are typically accompanied by body language, such as assuming the mating position. That’s her way of alerting males that she’s ready to become pregnant.
Here’s an example of some cat in heat sounds:
Although male cats don’t go into heat, unneutered ones do become aroused when they smell the presence of a female experiencing estrus. They can become so focused on locating a queen that they roam far and wide in search of one. These unaltered males urgently call for females, and this behavior can happen frequently at night. If you’ve ever heard a male cruising the neighborhood looking for a mate, you definitely know the sound!
A male cat has the tendency to wander from home, spray urine and become aggressive with other cats (and even humans) when he’s on the prowl.
A male cat in search of a mate sounds like this:
The only way to truly prevent female cats from going into heat and male cats from the distress of queen-seeking (and those cat in heat sounds!), is to have your cats spayed or neutered. Some say you should let your female go through one estrus cycle or even have one litter of kittens before a spay, but that’s a myth.
Kittens should be spayed or neutered when they reach sexual maturity, which is between four and six months of age. Older cats can, however, be spayed or neutered at any time, but many vets prefer not to perform a spay on a cat who is in heat due to bleeding complications. Vets also recommend waiting until after two weeks after weaning kittens to spay a recently pregnant cat.
In addition to preventing pregnancy, the procedures have other benefits to both male and female felines. Dr. Marty Becker says, “Intact males are at greater risk for testicular cancer and prostate disease. Intact females have a higher risk of mammary and uterine cancer and serious uterine infections. Intact females who are allowed to roam will often fight with other females, and they incur the same risk of injury and disease as males. And, of course, having a litter is risky for females, especially if they are still no more than kittens themselves.”
For those concerned about the cost of spaying and neutering, the ASPCA offers an online resource to locate free and low-cost spay/neuter programs near you.
Thumbnail: Photography ©Juan Ignacio Calcagno | iStock / Getty Images Plus.
Read more about cat sounds on Catster.com: