Cat with mouth open, making a sound distressed.
Cat with mouth open, making a sound distressed. Photography ©Juan Ignacio Calcagno | iStock / Getty Images Plus.

Cat in Heat Sounds — What Do Cats in Heat Sound Like?

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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?

Cat in Heat Sounds: Caterwauling, Yowling and Purrs

Cat with mouth open — trilling, meowing or making another kitty sound.
What are some typical cat in heat sounds? Photography by annadarzy/Thinkstock.

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:

How Do Male Cats Sound When Responding to Female Cats in Heat?

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:

Want to Stop Hearing Those Cat in Heat Sounds? Spay and Neuter Your Cats!

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.

What Are the Other Benefits to Spaying and Neutering Your Cats?

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:

26 thoughts on “Cat in Heat Sounds — What Do Cats in Heat Sound Like?”

  1. This Past March I had a stray living in my garage . I fed her for about 10 days and could not get close to her. A friend came by with her dog on a nice day and the cat came up and nuzzled her dog. I brought her in and she hated being inside. So I would let her outside and back into eat when ever she want . I thought she must be someone’s cat that has a dog. When she was sticking around I brought her to the vet who informed me she is going to be a mother. So I have been keeping her in for fear she will have her kittens outside . SHe desperately wants out. I will get her spayed so she spayed after so she can once again come and go as she pleases.

  2. Our female cat. I just got from my son. She’s 2. And in heat. She’s for an appointment on the 26th for her spay. What can be done to give us a break from her constant cries and caterwauling?

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  14. I have 2.male cats. Both are fixed and I have one female who is due to be fixed soon. But my one boy gets her down and humps her. Is this normal? He did this to another female I was fostering before she got fixed too. Thanks

  15. I have 2.male cats. Both are fixed and I have one female who is due to be fixed soon. But my one boy gets her down and humps her. Is this normal? He did this to another female I was fostering before she got fixed too. Thanks

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  17. My cat was spayed and since then was in heat for two weeks, normal for two weeks, and started again a week ago. It’s relentless. She doesn’t sleep, she meows all days, rubs herself to everything all the time, crouched down offering us her bottom all the time. The vet gave us this story about possibly some cells having been left in and even said that they might not be found and that she could be like this forever. It is unbearable. She literally spends all day trying to rub her bottom against us and the Vet says she could basically be in heat for the rest of her life. She is nine months old. Can anyone help us!!!!

    1. Hi there — 
      We suggest getting a second opinion from another vet to see what’s going on. Hope your kitty feels better!!

    2. D
      I am curious. We’re you able to get a 2nd vet’s opinion on the situation? What is the resolution for your kitty? Sounds sad, poor thing.

  18. My stray tom cat keeps attacking me bitting and clawing me when my back is turned on him. He is doing it to often and i dont know when he is going to attack me . I am very weary of him now . Why is he doing this?

    1. Hi Susan,

      Sorry to hear you’re experiencing this. These pieces might provide some insight:
      https://www.catster.com/cat-behavior/how-to-detect-and-prevent-a-cat-attack
      https://www.catster.com/lifestyle/how-to-treat-cat-bites-puncture-wounds
      https://www.catster.com/lifestyle/cat-behavior-problems-tips-cats-aggressive-aggression
      https://www.catster.com/lifestyle/home-remedies-cat-scratch-health-tips

      best of luck and please contact a vet if you continue to experience this.

    2. Male cat making weird. Sounds at night. Biting and being hostile and not to trust him. He hasn’t been fixed yet. Is he in heat

      1. Hi David,
        Please fix your cat ASAP. Here’s some info on low-cost spay / neuter options:
        https://www.catster.com/cat-health-care/what-to-do-if-you-need-help-with-vet-bills
        https://www.catster.com/cat-health-care/affordable-vet-care-for-your-cat

        These articles might provide further insight on those cat sounds as well:
        https://www.catster.com/cat-behavior/cat-meowing-at-night
        https://www.catster.com/cat-health-care/cats-in-heat
        https://www.catster.com/cat-behavior/weird-cat-sounds-what-they-mean
        https://www.catster.com/lifestyle/cat-noises-what-they-mean

  19. Kittens can now be fixed when they’re as small as 2 pounds. It’s easier on them! Check with your vet or neuter-spay clinic.

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