You adopted a sweet female kitten a few months ago. Now she's had a complete personality change: She's morphed from a quiet, playful kitten into a noisy, flirty queen who's obsessed with your male cat. Nothing is wrong with Kitty, she's just looking for love.
Going Into Heat
Kitty is able to have kittens of her own once she's about 6 months old; the onset of fertility is earlier than this age in some cats, later in others. Her estrous cycle is referred to as going into heat. Kitty goes into heat during spring and summer, when the days are longer. This is triggered by a reduced production of melatonin in Kitty's brain, which occurs when there is more daylight and the nights are shorter.
Going into heat also can happen when she's kept indoors and exposed to the artificial day and night cycle of the lighting in your home. She might go into heat more times, and for a longer duration throughout the year, than she would if kept outdoors.
Kitty's Strange Behavior
When she goes into heat, the first sign is becoming talkative. She'll roam your home yowling and making a lot of noise, like she's upset or in pain. She's telling any male cats in earshot that she's ready to mate.
She'll rub her face against most anything in your home, including you, seeming extremely friendly. She'll adopt the lordosis position -- resting her chest on the ground and sticking her rear in the air. She'll tread her paws and move her tail out of the way, the stance she assumes for mating with a tomcat. Disconcertingly, she also might take this position when you pet her back or scratch the base of her tail.
Heat can last for up to 16 days and recur every couple of weeks until she becomes pregnant or you have her fixed. If your cat is kept indoors, you might feel the poor girl is always in heat most of the year.
No Feline Menopause
You might think that if you just wait until Kitty gets older, she'll go through menopause and stop going into heat. But for her entire life a cat is capable of getting pregnant, although when she's older she might not be able to have as big a litter. There is no such thing as menopause in cats.
Pregnancy is physically demanding on a cat, and even professional breeders typically allow their cats to mate until only age 5, when they have them spayed. Pregnancy can be much more difficult and complicated for an older cat than for a younger queen.
Getting Her Spayed
Unless you are a professional breeder, you should get Kitty spayed as soon as she's old enough, 5 or 6 months. There is no reason to let her go into heat or have a litter first. Spaying will improve her quality of life and give you many long years of cuddles together. Ask her vet when best to do the procedure, which involves removing the uterus and ovaries through a small incision on her tummy.
A spayed kitty won't suffer the stress of going into heat or pregnancy. Spaying also reduces her changes of getting breast cancer, which is deadly in 90 percent of cases, according to the ASPCA. If she's fixed she'll be less likely to stray, and she won't add to the problem of cat overpopulation.