Why do female cats spray when in heat? Female cats in heat will spray strong-smelling urine all over the house to attract males. It’s their way of telling male felines that they are available to mate. Sometimes, your cat may try to spray you as a form of marking. For indoor cats, spraying might be followed with the urge to go outdoors to seek a mate. They may attack your door or try to escape in every chance they get. The only solution to stop this is to get your female cat spayed once it reaches sexual maturity.
Cats spray their urine as a form of communication. Aside from females, it’s also observed among unneutered male cats. Unlike normal urination, cats produce a small amount of urine when spraying. They usually douche their urine on vertical surfaces, but it’s also common to find sprayed urine on the floor, couch, and furniture.
Why do female cats spray when in heat?
Spraying is a known behavior among cats during the estrous period. The estrous cycle is the reproductive period of female cats, also known as the ‘heat cycle’. Most cats will start undergoing the estrous cycle once it reaches six months old. Some cats may take longer before reaching sexual maturity, depending on the breed and unique characteristics.
Within an estrous cycle, your cat will experience several estrus or ‘heat’ stages. This stage is when your cat is sexually receptive and the time when spraying is done by female felines.
Each estrus stage will usually last for up to six days, but, again, it will vary on each cat. If your female cat isn’t mated on the first estrus stage, the kitty will go out of heat for a short period.
How long does a cat stay in heat? Overall, the on and off estrus cycle will make the estrous cycle last for up to six weeks. Some cats will end their reproductive cycle in three weeks.
But why do female cats spray in heat but doesn’t bleed? Remember that when a cat is in heat, bleeding isn’t usually observable. Unlike female humans, cats can be in the reproductive stage even without signs of menstruation. What‘s notable during the estrous period is the behavioral changes in your cat. You’ll usually observe the following:
During the reproductive period, your female cat’s hormones will go haywire. You will notice that your cat is more affectionate. They will rub to your incessantly and seek your attention all the time. Female cats in heat usually gravitate toward their favorite person.
Spraying and marking
Female cats spray as a way of saying “hey guys, I’m here!”. In the animal kingdom, scents play a vital role in reproduction and communication – cats are no exception to this nature. Your female cat will spray urine with a stronger odor than usual. If you notice that your cat is seemingly marking spots in your home repeatedly, it’s a sign that the feline is in heat. One of the signs of cat spraying is frequent peeing in small amounts.
Becoming more vocal
Aside from spraying, female cats in heat will vocalize louder than usual. Some will even howl loudly to attract male cats. This is a common problem of cat owners, especially those who are in shared homes.
Urge to wander
Regardless if you have an outdoor or indoor cat, it will have an extreme urge to wander when in heat. The cat may try to bolt out of the door when you open it. Some would be desperate enough to attack your doors or windows. Beware because female cats in heat can be Houdinis due to their urge to mate.
Rubbing or humping
Rubbing is typical to some female cats even if they are not in heat. However, if your female cat has increased physical affection, it might be undergoing the estrous cycle. Some cats will hump or exhibit the mating position. Yes, even female cats may hump. Others will rub their rear on surfaces, including your legs.
How to stop a female cat from spraying while in heat
If your female cat is in heat and spraying all over, the following are the most effective solutions:
Clean previous sprays
The first thing you should do is to clean the previous sprays that your female cat made. As the scent lingers, the cat will be more attracted to re-spray that area.
Here’s the trick: your cat can still sniff the previous sprays even after cleaning the area with soap. Cats have a strong sense of smell so they can still pick up the slightest hints of scent.
What you need to use is an enzyme cleaner made for pet urine. Unlike soaps and detergents, enzyme cleaners are packed with microorganisms that break down and consume the remaining proteins of your cat’s urine. After their job is done, the microorganisms will die and leave no trace of pet urine. This formula is safe to use near cats as long as you choose one with a mild smell and natural ingredients.
One more tip: clean after your cat. Letting the urine settle on the surface that a cat sprayed will only make the scent linger longer. I’ve dealt with cat urine on carpets many times, and you wouldn’t want to let those fluids soaking and drying on the surface for long.
Ask the vet about prescriptions
If your cat keeps on spraying even after the heat cycle, it’s possible that there are stressors on their surroundings. The neighborhood cat might be threatening their territory, or you suddenly changed your schedule.
You can ask your cat’s veterinarian about anti-anxiety prescriptions that may help reduce the spraying. Remember that you should never administer any drug to your cat unless the vet gives it a green light.
If medications aren’t possible, you can use a pheromone spray that mimics the natural scent that felines leave on surfaces to mark their territory.
Consider spaying your cat
The only and most effective cat in heat remedy is getting your female cat spayed. This will stop your cat’s reproduction as well as drastic hormonal changes associated with the estrous cycle. Spayed cats also exhibit a calmer disposition because their urges to mate is no longer present.
But what is the difference between neutering and spaying? I always get this question from pet owners, and the answer is very simple. Neutering is the process conducted to male cats while spaying is for female cats. The process of desexing the two cat genders are different, thus the different terminologies.
During a spaying procedure, the veterinarian will make an incision below the female cat’s belly button. The incision will go as far as the abdomen to access the reproductive system of a cat. Take note that the process includes the removal of the ovaries, uterus, and reproductive tract.
Once these internal organs are removed, the vet will stitch your cat’s skin back. There would be double stitches under the skin, which will be absorbed by your cat’s body.
Meanwhile, the external wound will be sealed with non-dissolvable stitches, skin staples, or skin glue. It’s important to put an Elizabethan collar a.k.a. “cone of shame” to your female cat after the operation so it will not lick the wound.
After spaying, female cats will have reduced spraying and they will no longer display any habits of a reproductive cat.
But can you spay a cat in heat? This is possible, but many vets discourage doing so. If you insist, the veterinarian can perform the spaying surgery. However, it will be bloody and lengthy because your female cat’s reproductive organs are flooded with blood during the estrous cycle.
Also, cats should only be spayed once they reach six months of age or upon sexual maturity, whichever comes first. This will ensure that their body have grown and that their hormones have stabilized before desexing.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How long do female cats stay in heat?
A: How long is a cat in heat? Each heat cycle will last for a couple of days, but the entire estrous cycle will span for up to three to six weeks. During this period, your cat will spray and become extremely affectionate. Some will also keep rubbing their rear on surfaces.
Q: Do female cats spray?
A: Yes, both male and female cats spray when they are in heat or marking their territories. Some cats will exhibit random spraying behavior even after desexing.
Q: How can I help my female cat in heat?
A: Many cat owners swear by giving a cat in heat a warm pad to sit on. It keeps the kitty calm, but you should control the temperature, so it doesn’t burn their skin. Extra playtime and physical stimulation will help a lot to distract your female cat from spraying.
Q: How do you shut up a cat in heat?
A: There’s nothing you can do to stop a cat in heat. The least you can do is to calm the symptoms. A pheromone diffuser will help a lot in reducing vocalization and spraying. You should also decrease the stressors around so your pet will not spray and mark its territory repeatedly.
Q: How do you stop a cat in heat from meowing?
A: Female cats in heat will meow louder and more frequently. To reduce the noise, you can give your pet extra playtime as well as using a pheromone diffuser. Keeping your cat busy will distract it from spraying or meowing too much.
Q: Are cats in pain when in heat?
A: Due to the loud meowing, it’s easy to assume that female cats are in pain when they are in heat. The truth is that the feline doesn’t feel pain, but discomfort. It’s part of the estrous cycle that you have to deal with, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that your kitty is suffering.
Q: How far away can a male cat smell a female in heat?
A: Unlike their normal urine, female cats in heat will spray urine with a stronger odor. Believe or not, but male cats can sniff this scent for as far as a mile away. If you have a male cat at home and you don’t want your cat to get pregnant, you must keep them separated until the estrous cycle ends.
Q: At what age do cats stop going into heat?
A: Most cats will start having heat cycles at the age of six months. However, some cats can mature faster and will start experiencing estrous cycles for as early as four months old. You must watch out for some tell-tale signs so your cat’s vet can help you with the cycle.
Q: How long does a male cat stay in heat?
A: Male cats don’t go in heat like females do. They only respond to female cats that are in heat. This is the reason why female cats in heat will spray all over. It’s an attractant for male cats that have reached their sexual maturity. If not neutered, male cats will hump things if they weren’t able to mate with a female cat.
Q: Why do cats act weird when they are in heat?
A: Female cats that are in heat will have fluctuating hormones, which leads to weird behavior. The howling, loud meowing, and spraying is their effort to attract male cats around. This behavior will last until the heat cycle ends.
Q: Should I pet my cat when she is in heat?
A: Female cats in heat will love lots of petting during this period. They also like the extra attention as they will become very affectionate and clingy due to their fluctuating hormones.
Q: Why does my cat cry when in heat?
A: A female cat in heat will cry to call out male cats to mate. The meowing and howling can be annoying, but you can reduce it by using pheromone diffusers and distracting your cat with extra playtime.
Q: How many times a year does a cat go in heat?
A: Most female cats will have multiple estrous cycles within a year. With this, a female cat can have about 3 to 5 litters per year if it gets to mate on each reproductive cycle.
So do female cats spray when in heat? The spraying is a call sign for male cats from female kitties to communicate that they are available for mating. If the spraying is becoming intolerable, spaying your female cat is the best decision. It will stop them from getting in heat, and it will also reduce the spraying.
Marco Vasquez is a passionate animal lover and writer with extensive experience in the pet care industry. He has worked with various pets, including dogs, cats, birds, and fish, and deeply understand their unique needs and behaviors. Marco’s love for animals has driven him to become an expert in pet health, nutrition, and behavior, and he is always eager to share his knowledge and insights with others. As a member of the Petcosset team, Marco brings his expertise to help pet owners make informed decisions about the well-being of their little friends. He enjoys hiking and spending time outdoors with his pets in his free time.