What to Do With a Feral Cat in Heat

You can help a feral cat in heat by:

The best way to assist a feral cat in heat is through Trap Neuter Release Programs. It helps control the cat population and reduces nuisance behaviors such as loud yowling and spraying.

Avoid relocating feral cats since they are connected with their territory, and other cats will soon move in.

Probably all of us have come across a homeless cat at some point in our lives. Maybe you have seen these mysterious felines lurking in your yard or peeping out from abandoned buildings. As you may be aware, these cats go through a tough life.

If you are thinking of how you can be of assistance, then this article will answer all your questions. Keep reading, to know what you can do when a feral cat is in heat, plus how to deal with other common situations that may arise.


Assist a Feral Cat Through Trap Neuter Release

The sound of a yowling cat in heat is irritating. It causes sleepless nights and can be a source of tension among neighbors. The most recommended way to deal with a cat in heat is to calm it. Most cat owners suggest keeping it warm and using playtime as a distraction.  

However, this approach might not practical when dealing with a feral cat. They have not been socialized, and are therefore aggressive when they come into contact with humans. The best way to help a feral cat in heat is through trap-neuter-release programs.

A female cat can get pregnant as young as 16 weeks of age, this means the feral cat population can grow very fast.

It is endorsed by the ASPCA as the most effective way of stabilizing the outdoor cat population. The process involves humanely trapping the cat, vaccination, and surgical sterilization by a qualified veterinary.

It’s the only route to avoid nuisance behaviors such as loud yowling, and males lining up to woo the female cat during her estrus, which results in the tomcat fighting.

These feral cats are then returned to the wild and closely monitored by volunteers. Spayed cats have fewer health problems such as breast cancer. Spaying female cats reduce the risks associated with pregnancy. It also reduces tomcat fights from males who want to mate. After a cat is spayed, it will not get into heat. 

When feral cats give birth in the wild, they go through a tough life keeping their kittens fed and warm. Spaying programs reduces cat suffering and controls its population. It prevents the heat cycle from repeating over again and future unwanted pregnancies.

So, how soon can a cat be spayed? Not when she is in heat, because of the complications discussed below.


Spaying a Cat While She is in Heat is Risky

When a cat is in heat, her uterus and cervix thicken and become engorged with blood. This makes the tissue more prone to tearing, and therefore the surgery will be a complicated one.

Even though spaying can be done while she in heat, it is not recommended. Some vets will decline from performing the surgery until the cat has passed the heat cycle.


How a Female Cat Behaves When in Heat

You can tell if a cat is in heat if she:

  • Becomes more affectionate, rubbing against objects.
  • Rolls on the floor.
  • Carries her tail to one side.
  • Gets very vocal and yowls loudly day and night.
  • Urinates frequently.
  • Grooms excessively.


A Guideline on How to Trap Feral Cats

If you are planning to perform a TNR program during the summer months, keep in mind that the hot weather can affect the cat’s safety. If the cat stays in the trap for a long time under such extreme weather, it can die from heatstroke.

It would be advisable to have some cool and ventilated place for the cat to stay until its appointment. If this is not possible, postpone the trapping until a cooler day. A trapped feral cat is already stressed and the added heat can be fatal.

Don’t leave the cat’s trap under direct sunlight. You should also avoid placing the trap on surfaces that trap heat such as asphalt. The bars of the trap can get hot and burn the cat’s paws.

Here are a few additional tips when trapping a cat:

  • Inform your neighbors that you will be trapping, so that they keep their pets indoors.
  • Cats love tuna, sardines, and salmon so these make good baits.
  • Always use a pet carrier to avoid being scratched.

Once the cat is captured, transport it immediately to the vet for spaying.

To make sure you will be acting correctly, before you do anything, make sure you have everything organized, discussed, and agreed with a responsible organization who will do the neutering procedure.


There are Four Stages of Heat Cycles in Cats

A heat cycle can last from 4 to 7 days. The female cat will go into heat several times a year until she mates. When a female cat hits the reproductive age, she is called a queen.

  1. Proestrus: During this stage, the cat may attract tomcats, but she is not yet ready to receive to mate.  She will not show any of the signs listed above. The proestrus stage lasts for about a day or two.
  2. Estrus: The queen is now ready to mate during this heat cycle, which lasts for about 7 days. She may become more vocal,sound as if in distress and even lose her  appetite. Since she mates about four to six times, she might mate with several males while in this heat cycle and therefore give birth to a litter of kittens from different fathers.
  3. Interestrus: If the queen fails to mate in the estrus cycle, her estrogen levels drop and she goes into the interestrus stage. There are no signs displayed while she is on this stage. After about 3 weeks, the proestrus cycle will start again, and this repeats itself until she becomes pregnant.
  4. Anestrus: This stage is also referred to as the dormant period, the queen’s reproductive hormones are not active, and she does not go into heat. Light stimulates the queen to go into heat, which is 14 -16 hours of daylight. Feral cats don’t go into heat from October to January when the days are shorter.


Avoid Relocation and Elimination

As territorial creatures, outdoor cats are connected with their territory. They know where to find their food sources, hidings where they can find shelter, and are aware of potential threats.

Moving these cats to another area will leave them confused, and it will take long before they get used to the new surroundings.

Besides, relocation does not solve the problem of nuisance cats in the neighborhood. Even if all the feral cats are relocated, other cats will soon move in.

Eradication is also another inhumane method of destroying the cat colony, but it often does not solve the issue at hand. Survivors of this cat colony will continue to breed and be even more cautious of traps.


How to Discourage Feral Cats

Feral cat kills birds and other wildlife. They can also turn beautiful flower beds into their litter box. If these are female cats, they will give birth and fill garden sheds with their litter of kittens. Outdoor cats also carry the risk of diseases and fleas transmission.

Some ways have proven effective in keeping feral cats from your yard. Try these tricks if you want to have peace of mind:


1. Close all areas that may provide shelter

Feral cats will often come to your outdoor space if they find a secure place to sleep or raise their young. Close any openings in your garage or the porches so that these cats don’t find a place to hide.


2. Remove food

Most outdoor cats have a hard time finding food and so they will welcome any source of it. If you have your cats, don’t feed them outside. Cover the dustbin, and don’t leave food scraps on the compost pile.


3. Make your yard uncomfortable

Felines love to stay in a comfortable space so you can fill your flowerbeds with objects that will discourage your cat from relaxing in your yard, such as sharp pebbles, chicken wire, or eggshells.


4. Use repellants

You can find commercial cat repellants that have tastes and smells that cats dislike and spray these into your garden. If you don’t want to spend a lot on repellants, there are natural options too. Try citrus peels, cayenne paper, or coffee grounds.


5. Scare the cats away

Motion-activated sprinklers are a great way to scare the cats away. These detect any motion and will sprinkle the cat with water. Since cats don’t like to get wet, they will take off.

You can also fill a can with pebbles and hang them. When a cat jumps over, the can will fall, producing a sound that scares the cat away.


Writer: Flora Ojow

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