Your cat is driving you crazy. She's yowling, demanding attention and scheming to dash through the doorway every time the door opens. She's a cat in heat, and you know what's on her mind. The one thing on yours should be getting her spayed as soon as possible.
Cats go through their first estrus, or heat cycle, at approximately 6 months of age when feline puberty hits. It's probably best to get your cat spayed before that first heat cycle, but it's not always possible, especially if she's a stray. When she goes into heat, she's fertile and eager to mate. You can't mistake the signs. Besides the incessant meowing, she'll constantly lick her privates, roll around on the floor and possibly spray urine around the house. Depending on the individual cat, she'll stay in heat for seven to 10 days. If she doesn't get pregnant she'll come back into heat every three to four weeks from spring to fall.
The spay surgery is an ovariohysterectomy, meaning the vet removes her uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries. Your vet or the vet at the spay/neuter facility will make a small incision in the cat's abdomen and remove the organs. She ties the cervix off so your cat's vagina ends at that point -- think of it as sock. Spayed cats no longer add to the feline overpopulation problem, and the procedure means your cat won't suffer from uterine or ovarian cancer. Her odds of developing mammary cancer are significantly reduced.
Spaying During Heat
It's possible to spay a cat during the heat cycle, although many vets prefer not to do so. During the estrus cycle, the feline's reproductive organs and related blood vessels become engorged with blood. It takes more time to complete the surgery, so your vet or the facility might charge more. Many owners make a spay appointment for their cat not realizing she's in heat when the day comes.
Whether to spay a cat in heat may come down to your veterinary facility's policy. For example, the low-cost spay/neuter program Paws Atlanta notes that a client must wait three weeks after a cat's heat cycle before the clinic will spay her. Across the country, the SPCA of Monterey County, California, charges an additional fee for spaying cats in heat, pregnant or obese. If your cat managed to get outside or otherwise exposed to a tomcat during her heat cycle, assume she's pregnant. Many facilities will spay cats in the early stages of pregnancy, while some will spay in the late stage.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.