You never thought the day would come that you’d have to have “the talk” with your cats. The birds and the bees were supposed to be fascinating prey, not the subject of serious discussions!
Then one day, you hear yowling and prepare yourself to break up a catfight. But your cats aren’t fighting — they’re mating, and that yowl is the sound of the female in heat.
Kittens aren’t in the cards for you right now, and besides, pregnancy can be dangerous for a mother cat. You’ve got to put a stop to this mating behavior.
But what can you do about two cats who are desperate to breed with each other?
Before all the yowling makes you pull out your hair in frustration, try these tips to calm your cats’ sex drives and quell the urge to mate.
Spaying and Neutering: Prevention is Key
We’d be remiss if we didn’t emphasize that the single best way to stop your cats from mating is to have them desexed.
Spaying your female cat and neutering your male cat will stop the flow of sex hormones that send females into heat and makes males insatiable. They’ll be physically unable to reproduce — and even if they could, they wouldn’t want to anymore.
Desexing prevents unwanted or unexpected kittens from entering the world, reducing the strain on overcrowded animal shelters, and on you. It evens out your cats’ temperaments and reduces their risk of developing health complications and diseases like cancer.
Spaying and neutering are the only ways to guarantee that your cats’ mating behaviors will stop. But if you can’t or won’t desex your cats, the following tips may help.
If You Can’t Desex, Isolate
Maybe you can’t afford to desex your cats yet, or your vet appointment is still a ways away. But your female cat is in heat, and your male cat is desperate to mate with her — what do you do?
Isolate isolate isolate!
If you have an intact male and an intact female, you need to keep them physically separated if you don’t want them to mate. However, this is easier said than done, as cats that are desperate to mate will go to extreme lengths to do so.
Isolating Female Cats
Female cats can only get pregnant while they’re in heat, so they don’t need to be quarantined all the time. But you need to be diligent about recognizing the signs of heat and isolate her as soon as they appear.
Heat generally begins when the cat is around six months old and occurs for around six days at a time. The average feline estrus cycle (the equivalent of the human menstrual cycle) lasts around 24 days, so around ¼ of the cycle is spent in the heat.
When your cat enters heat, you’ll notice. Not only will she be more affectionate and hungry for touch, but she’ll also yowl incessantly, calling out to other cats that she wants to mate and to come over now!
You may also notice her rubbing her rear up against table legs, sofa corners, and other furniture items. She may roll around on the floor as if in pain, or bend down with her tail to the side, exposing her genitals.
Some female cats will also spray walls with pheromone-laden urine while in heat.
Whether or not she sprays, your cat releases hefty amounts of pheromones when she’s in heat. These stinky hormones overwhelm male cats’ noses and provide a scent trail for them to follow back to her.
The moment you notice these signs, move your female cat to her room and make sure she can’t get out — and that your male cat can’t get in. Provide her with food, water, toys, and a litter box, and continue spending time with her every day, but don’t allow her any contact with other cats.
Be prepared that if you isolate her while she’s in heat, your cat may start acting out. Improper urination, incessant vocalizations and other neurotic behaviors are bound to arise when she can’t fulfill her sexual needs.
Isolating Male Cats
Male cats don’t go into heat; they’re able to mate at any time once they reach sexual maturity. But when they smell the pheromones of a female cat in heat, they’ll likely go little nuts themselves.
Depending on your cats’ personalities, you may prefer to quarantine your male cat when your female is in heat. If so, watch the female carefully for the signs of heat and move the male to his own room as soon as you see them.
But isolating the male has its own problems: he won’t enjoy being stuck alone in a room while a yowling, pheromone-covered female is roaming just beyond the door.
This frustration may cause him to spray the walls, behave aggressively or vocalize constantly. If you decide to quarantine him, we recommend lining the floor and walls with pee pads or another protective barrier to prevent damage to your home.
You can also purchase calming feline pheromones and flood the room with them to soothe your male cat. These pheromones aren’t sexual; they’re similar to the ones released by mother cats to calm their babies, so they may help to mellow him out.
Postpone the Problem: Delay Estrus
What if you don’t want to spay your female cat but just don’t want kittens — or the ordeal of feline estrus — for a while?
Well, there are a few ways to delay your female cat from going into heat. This will buy you a few months of time during which she can’t get pregnant, allowing her to safely cohabitate with her male companion.
Delaying Heat with Hormonal Injections
Your vet can give your female cat a hormonal injection called Delvosteron. The injection contains a special hormone derived from progesterone that suppresses the estrus cycle.
Yep, it’s birth control for felines!
The injection suppresses heat for an average of five months. While it’s active, your cat cannot get pregnant and will not exhibit symptoms of heat.
You’ll still need to monitor her diligently, though. The medication can wear off early, sending her into heat without warning and putting her at risk of pregnancy.
Delaying Heat by Mating with Vasectomized Males
Neutering a male cat involves removing his testicles, but it’s not the only way of sterilizing a male. Male cats can get vasectomies, which allow him to keep his sex drive and ability to mate but don’t allow him to actually release any sperm.
Because female cats are induced to ovulate by the act of mating, allowing your female to mate with a vasectomized male will cause her to release her egg without fertilization. Her body will react as if it’s pregnant and remain that way for weeks or months afterward.
During this time, she will not go into heat and thus cannot get pregnant. She will refuse the advances of your male cat, and they’ll be able to coexist without mating with each other.
As with the Delvosteron injection, you’ll still need to keep an eye out for returning symptoms of heat. At that point, you’ll have to decide whether to delay estrus again, spay her or allow her to mate.
Bonus: These Methods Stop Cat Mating Calls
Maybe it’s not the mating that bothers you so much as that horrible cat mating call. The yowls that echo through your house day and night are disruptive, distressing and just plain awful.
Unfortunately, yowling is an unavoidable part of being in heat. Your cat can’t help but issue her mating call, and no amount of scolding, isolation or other tactics will prevent it.
So if you don’t want to spay her, you’ll just have to deal with it… unless you delay her estrus by hormonal injection or mating with a vasectomized male.
Because these methods “trick” your cat’s body into thinking she’s pregnant, they also prevent the many symptoms of heat, including the mating call.
Otherwise, you’ll just have to deal with the mating calls, as annoying as they are. When your cat is in heat, the only thing on her mind is finding a mate — and the best way for her to do that is to yowl, howl, and caterwaul for as long as she can.
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"In ancient times cats were worshipped as gods; they have not forgotten this."
-- Terry Pratchett