I’ve always adopted older cats from shelters or rescue organizations. Usually the cats were spayed or neutered, or I had it done right away after adopting. I haven’t had a male kitten in our house since we adopted Jamie 21 years ago. (Jamie passed on in 2012.) So my recent adoption of my kitten, Norton, in August has been quite an experience. I don’t remember Jamie’s young years too well, but I don’t think Jamie had as much testosterone racing through him as Norton seems to have. Norton is also a high-energy kitty.
Norton is six months old and was just neutered this week. He came through this simple procedure just fine. The behaviors leading up to the neuter were well-known, but ones we hadn’t seen in this household for years (or ever), and had forgotten about.
Norton did not/does not spray — thank goodness — but about a month ago, his hormones really began showing themselves. He got a lot more vocal, crying more and “singing” randomly. He also began mounting Kieran (neutered male). All my cats are spayed and neutered. Norton would try to mount the others, but they were having none of it. Kieran may be more submissive — he’s a pretty gentle guy.
It remains to be seen whether Norton’s hormonal behavior will subside as the hormones recede after the neuter. In the meantime, here are some things I experienced and learned. These may help you, especially in that period when the cat starts showing hormonal behaviors but may still be too young to be neutered.
Neuter, of course!
For obvious reasons (unless you’re a professional breeder), you want to neuter your kitten. The timing of this is pretty important.
Wait until at least six months of age
When Norton hit the five-month mark and these behaviors started surfacing, I called my vet and asked if it was time to neuter. But Norton was still small, and the vet said that neutering done too early may result in urinary problems later. So I waited, and I got him right in at the six-month mark.
It’s only been a few days, so it’s too soon to tell whether behaviors will subside. Over all, he does seem a little calmer. He is still young, and still has plenty of energy to burn. Of course, he is always happier with play sessions — the more, the better.
Distract him in the meantime
If Norton is singing loudly, or trying to mount Kieran, I try to have a toy nearby to distract him right away. The laser light is easy and small. Other toys are nearby. He loves to play so much that a toy will generally do the trick. Food works pretty well, too.
Watch the door
We haven’t had this problem, but some information suggests that a young hormonal male cat is obviously going to try harder to get outside (especially, for example, if stray and/or unspayed females are hanging around). So make sure your cat doesn’t get outside if you don’t want him outside, and so he doesn’t possibly impregnate a female and add to the overpopulation problem.
Try rescue remedy
I did this once (for Norton, not me!) when Norton was particularly worked up. I’ve used Rescue Remedy before to calm cats in other situations. It actually worked well and Norton settled down. I’m told by my holistic vet that these tinctures lose effectiveness if you use them too often. Do not give the remedy internally; see your vet for instruction on how to give this properly.
Let the cats work it out
I’m actually not sure whether this is a good solution, but I am certain that there have been many times that Kieran got mounted when we weren’t here. Sometimes, it appears that Kieran is simply submitting and doesn’t seem to be bothered. In these cases, I hope that something is being worked out. Or maybe Kieran knows more than I do — maybe he knows that eventually, the behavior will hopefully pass.
Kieran doesn’t seem any worse for wear, nor does he seem bummed out or depressed. In fact, he seems to like Norton, and he gets along well with everyone, as he always has. So I’m guessing there’s no harm done.
Have patience — the six-month mark will be there before you know it
At this point (unless you’re neutering an older cat), you’ll reach the point when it’s time to neuter and you’ll take your boy to the vet. If you’re like me, you’ll feel a little pang (not so much for the type of surgery that it is, but simply worrying about your kitty undergoing surgery in general). My vet reminded me that neutering one of the least invasive procedures possible.
EDITED TO ADD: Comments show that neutering and spaying CAN take place earlier than six months, and that info I’d received from my vet may be incorrect. Please read through the comments and consult your vet(s) about this if you will be spaying and neutering kittens/cats. Thank you for the comments! ~Cat(herine)
Did your male cat show strong hormonal behavior prior to neutering? What did you do, if anything? Share your insights in the comments.
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About Catherine Holm: Told that she is funny but doesn’t know it, accused of being an unintentional con artist by her husband, quiet, with frequent unannounced bursts into dancing liveliness, Cat Holm loves writing about, working for, and living with cats. She is the author of the cat-themed memoir Driving with Cats: Ours for a Short Time, the creator of Ann Catanzaro cat fantasy story gift books, and the author of a short story collection about people and place. She loves to dance, be outside whenever possible, read, play with cats, make music, do and teach yoga, and write. Cat lives in the woods, which she loves as much as really dark chocolate, and gets regular inspiration shots along with her double espresso shots from the city.