Though male cats do not experience a ‘heat cycle,’ the question of how to calm “a male cat in heat” is one vets answer frequently. The truth, this is actually a misuse of the term ‘in heat’, since only female cats go in heat—males are ready to mate at all times. But fair enough, the language is okay for everyday conversation.
How to calm a male cat during mating season
Regardless that male cats do not go into heat, often a ‘tom’s’ behavior can make him seem like an insatiable maniac. When it happens, usually Mr. Fluffy loses his cool because a nearby female cat is in heat.
In this article you will find out how can you deal with a male cat when females around are in heat and his sexual arousal becomes more than you can stand.
Before that, however, double check that you are not mistaking something else for ‘heat’ symptoms; excessive vocalization, begging to go out, expressing more affection than usual toward humans and other pets, and even mounting behavior are not always associated with sexual arousal in male cats. Other explanations include illness and feelings of stress or insecurity. If your male cat is engaging in such behaviors, then, you should definitely take him to the vet first and jump to conclusions later.
Tips for calming a male cat in the mood
So let’s say your male cat (who acts like being ‘in heat’) is sexually excited because it’s spring and either the neighborhood’s full of female cats or you have one or more female cats in your home. What is a cat lover to do?
- Neuter your male cat. This is the best way to ensure a tom won’t respond to the calls made by females in heat, and if limiting the number of, er, “cat calls” is out of your control (e.g., your neighbor refuses to spay her female cat or female cats just happen to be everywhere), your tom is likely to be restless much of the time. Unless your male cat is a show champion or a purebred of high breeding quality, you should neuter him. You can learn more about the behavioral changes that will occur after you have your male cat neutered by visiting our page on expected changes in cat behavior after spaying or neutering.
- Modify your cat’s daily regimen. If neutering is out of the question and you can’t stop females from exciting your carpet tiger, your best bet is to learn to live with his behavior. If you find this is simply impossible, here are a few minor changes you can make to your tom’s daily activities that might curb his “enthusiasm”:
- Exercise your cat during the day. Cats aren’t that different from us, humans: One of the best ways not to think about sex is to do something else so fun and exhausting you’re simply too tired even to contemplate “doing the naughty.” Playing is like hunting for cats, and in nature cats devote a significant amount of time to it. If you are able to devote even a fraction of that time to playing with your cat, he’ll be much, much calmer during heat season. You can learn more about the benefits of playing from our page on the positive effect that playing has on cats. If you’re a cat breeder you should consider playing with your cat as a serious part of your job.
- Enrich your cat’s environment. Create elevated space (cat trees, perches, shelves) and hiding spots (boxes, curtains, plants, gaps between sofas and walls) and provide play opportunities (bouncy balls, fake mice, toys hung in doorways). Providing you cat with a rich, stimulating environment will allow him to express his natural cat urges in appropriate times and places, and this, in turn, will reduce restlessness and inappropriate behavior. You can learn more about environment enrichment for cats here.
- Implement scheduled feeding times. What does food have to do with Don Gato’s longing for Miss Fluffy White? Well, as they say, the fastest way to a man’s (or cat’s) heart is through his stomach. But seriously, if your cat always wakes up to a full bowl, he’s spending zero energy on feeding himself and can use that unspent energy for reproduction and mating purposes (even if the object of his affections is your leg or favorite blanket). This is a dilemma wild animals face every day; they can’t focus on both food and reproduction, so it’s a split of energy between the two (there is also stayin’ alive procedures to focus on, but we’re not suggesting your cat needs those). If your cat’s food comes at zero cost of energy, he has 100% of energy to spend on mating behaviors—and you do not want that. Especially when females around are in heat.
- Get a treat ball for your cat. Combine play and feeding by giving your cat one meal (or all of them) using a treat ball. These devices, which can be filled with your cat’s favorite treats or regular food, offer a great way to tucker out your feline friend because food pieces are only delivered one by one as long as the cat keeps playing. Not only does this take time away from responding to female cats’ calls, then; it can also help turn a tubby kitty into the picture of health.
- Visit a veterinarian. There are medicines available to calm excessively restless cats, though this shouldn’t be considered a panacea for mating-season kitty calming, and no medication should ever be used without a veterinarian’s guidance. Remember, heat usually last a long time, and, if your neighborhood has many cats, you can expect at least one female nearby to be in heat for the whole summer.
The above tips should help you get a handle on kitty’s untoward behavior, but as a final note, if you have both male and female cats living in your home, you should physically separate your male and female cats immediately. In fact, if you have a female cat in heat under the same roof as a male cat you should physically separate your cats as soon as you notice the first signs that your cat is in heat. This is the most effective way to avoid unwanted kittens.
If you plan to breed your female, arrange the mating as soon as you can, but if you don’t plan to do so, you should either spay her or ask your vet for medication to temporarily end her heat cycle. If even this is out of the question, your only option is to take one of the cats to an other house until the female is no longer in heat. Consequently, spaying or neutering your pet(s) is highly recommended.
This article is part of our series on cats in heat.