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How to Calm Your Cat in Heat: 5 Vet-Approved Ways

Chantelle Fowler

By Chantelle Fowler

tortie cat resting on heated bed

Vet approved

Dr. Maja Platisa Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Maja Platisa

In-House Veterinarian, DVM MRCVS

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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If you’ve ever been around a cat that’s in heat, you know how demanding they can be. Don’t get us wrong, we love our pets no matter what, but after a week of dealing with a cat in heat, you’re ready to do just about anything to provide them with some relief while simultaneously allowing yourself to keep your sanity. 

Lucky for you, there are some things that you can do as the owner of an unspayed female cat to provide them with some calming relief during their heat cycles. Keep reading to learn five ways to calm your cat when they’re in heat.

Please be aware that spaying your cat is the only efficient way to eliminate the undesirable heat-related behavior and what comes with it, such as risk of cats escaping the home, getting injured due to traffic or fighting with other cats, contracting infectious feline diseases, and getting pregnant. Speak to your vet about getting your cat neutered and the appropriate timing for the procedure based on her season.

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The 5 Ways to Calm Your Cat in Heat

1. Get Them Spayed

The only way you can provide permanent relief from heat-related behavior and everything that may come out of it is through spaying. 

When a female cat gets spayed, the surgeon removes the ovaries and oftentimes the uterus as well, depending on the type of procedure and the cat’s age, which then removes the hormones that cause any unwanted heat-related behavior. 

Not only does spaying stop your cat from going into heat, but it will also reduce their chance of developing certain health conditions. Spaying can reduce the likelihood of your female cat developing certain types of cancers. If you have your cat spayed before they go into heat for the first time, there is less than a 0.5% chance of her later developing breast cancer. With every heat cycle that happens, the risk of developing this type of cancer increases. 

The sooner you get your cat spayed, the better. After around 2.5 years of age, the spaying procedure will offer no protection against developing breast cancer.

cat neutered
Image Credit: Andrii Medvednikov, Shutterstock

Female cats who are not spayed are also at risk of developing pyometra. Pyometra is a serious and life-threatening uterine infection. And by spaying your cat, alongside the health benefits we mentioned, you are helping in controlling the vast population of stray and feral cats, as well as abandoned cats and kittens that end up in shelters or euthanized. Your female cat will then show no interest in roaming and searching for a mate, meaning the risk of them getting injured outside due to traffic or fighting with other cats and contracting feline viral diseases decreases.

Speak to your vet about the best time to neuter your cat. This is usually done between two heat cycles, but if the risk of them escaping or getting pregnant is very high, your vet may recommend doing it ASAP. The reason it is often avoided to spay a female cat in heat is because the blood vessels in the uterus and ovaries are more engorged with blood, increasing the risk of bleeding during the procedure, so discuss the risks, pros, and cons with your vet.

a cat after neutering with elizabeth collar
Image Credit: Koiee, Shutterstock

2. Isolate Her From Male Cats

male gray tabby cat mounting on a female calico cat
Image Credit: Attapol Yiemsiriwut, Shutterstock

While you wait for your female cat to be spayed, the next essential step when you know your cat is in heat is to isolate her from the male cats of the household and stop her from going outside. The breeding season in cats usually runs from January until fall or can even last the whole year in warmer climates or for exclusively indoor cats, so keeping your female cat without spaying them is not appropriate. They are likely to get pregnant sooner or later.

Separating them from the male cat prevents pregnancy but is only a temporary solution until your cat can get spayed. Neutering your male cat will also reduce the risk of unwanted pregnancies and prevent or minimize his spraying behavior. However, for the first few weeks of his procedure, the male cat may still be fertile and could impregnate the female cat, so it’s best to keep them separate at this time if the female is not yet spayed. 

Keeping the male and female cat separate may sound like an easy task, but it’s as far from it as possible. Both cats will be distressed due to being able to smell each other, and the male will do everything possible to get to the female cat. This should be considered well in advance of getting the cats so that you can plan their neutering and spaying procedure in time. 

During this time, you may also see neighborhood or feral cats roaming outside of your home due to the pheromones secreted by the female cat in heat. You should consider closing the blinds or curtains to prevent your female from spotting tomcats out of the windows in your home, as she may get stressed due to the sight of an unknown cat on their territory. Not to mention to pay special attention not to let your female cat out by mistake.


3. Provide Enrichment Activities

Distraction through playing is a possible way to keep your female cat a bit more occupied when she’s in heat, but it may not work for all cats or may have a variable and limited effect. They will certainly still exhibit heat behavior. Breeding season or not, your cat should still get plenty of daily physical and mental enrichment and activity in order to prevent boredom and frustration. 

grey cat upside down on hepper hi-lo cat scratcher

Giving your kitty the chance to play and act on their natural predatory behavior with various toys can produce a short-term calming effect on your in-heat cat. Try giving them their meals in a puzzle feeder to promote mental stimulation and to give them a chance to flex their predator muscles. Play will also provide a positive outlet for all of your pet’s pent-up energy. 

You can also provide enrichment by just spending extra time with her. Snuggle her and give her a lot of love and attention.


4. Give Catnip a Shot

Dried green catnip for cats spilling from container
Image Credit: gvictori, Shutterstock

Every cat responds to catnip differently. Some get crazy, others mellow out, and some don’t respond at all. You know your cat best. If your kitty tends to get relaxed when offered catnip, giving them a small dose once or twice a day may provide them with some reassurance.


5. Use Feliway

Feliway is a synthetic feline pheromone that can comfort and reassure cats. It works by either emulating natural pheromones that mothers release to calm their kittens or the pheromones cats use to mark certain familiar objects or even people that make them feel safe. The pheromone is not dissimilar to what your cat rubs onto your furniture with their head butts.

Feliway MultiCat 30 Day Starter Kit Calming Diffuser for Cats

The Feliway diffuser plugs into any outlet in your home and provides a drug-free solution to some stressed-out and anxious cats, but it’s best to start using it a few days before a perceived stressful event. However, pheromones are not a replacement for spaying, and your cat will continue exhibiting heat behavior until they are spayed or get pregnant. Not to mention they can also get pregnant quite soon after giving birth.

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How Long Will My Cat Be in Heat For?

A cat in heat is very persistent and loud. So, if you’re dealing with a cat amid a heat cycle, you might be wondering how long her estrus and the breeding season may last

Cats have multiple heat cycles during their breeding season, which will vary by your geographic location and other environmental factors like temperature and hours of daylight. In the Northern Hemisphere, most cats will cycle from the start of the new year until the late fall. Cats who find themselves in a tropical region or are mainly kept indoors can cycle all year round.

Each heat cycle will last several days, but most are over within a week. That said, it is not unusual for a cycle to last as few as two days or as many as 21. The cycle often repeats itself every 1 to 3 weeks, especially if you’re living in an area with extended daylight hours.

hepper-cat-paw-dividerFinal Thoughts

If your cat is in heat, you’re probably counting down the days until the cycle ends. The incessant vocalization can drive a person crazy.

The problem with not spaying your pet is that the heat cycles will continue for the most part of their life until old age. The best and only way to ensure your cat is calm during breeding season is to get them spayed. You’ll not only be providing much-needed relief for your pet, but you’ll be lowering their risk of certain types of cancers, feline infectious diseases, and pyometra, thus reducing the risk of unwanted pregnancies that contribute to the growing number of shelter animals and ensuring you keep your sanity a little longer, too.


Featured Image Credit: Tina Talley, Shutterstock

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