Male Cats in Heat

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  • The loud caterwauling of a cat in heat is not a pleasant sound. It’s annoying and very persistent. You might be wondering if there’s something you can do to help prevent it.

    Do male cats go into heat?

    Technically, male cats don’t go into “heat.” Going into heat is a purely female, or queen, trait. Going into heat is a process by which a female can become pregnant.  This is also called the estrus cycle. Females put out pheromones letting male cats know they are available to mate. The males, or toms, can smell the pheromones up to a mile away!

    However, males will go through a heat-like period during mating season. It can vary based on the temperature, environment, and the presence of in-heat females.

    What happens when male cats are sexually mature?

    Cats reach sexual maturity between four to six months old. A female in heat is usually at least six months old, but it varies by breed and health. When a female goes into heat, it attracts the attention of sexually mature males.

    Females go into heat every two to three weeks during mating season. In the Northern hemisphere, cats can breed between February to October. However, indoor kittens can have a breeding season year-round if they don’t have exposure to the outside.

    When male kittens are born, they have a surge of testosterone. This testosterone is not enough to attain sexual maturity until they are three months old and their reproductive organs have grown. When an intact male smells a female in heat, they want to impregnate the female. So technically, we have female cats to blame for males wanting to reproduce.

    Tomcats who cannot sire a litter within eighteen months should be evaluated for infertility.

    What are the signs a male cat is in heat?

    Two cats rubbing heads

    While male cats cannot be in heat per se, they can still exhibit signs of wanting to be sexual. When toms reach sexual maturity, they may present behavioral changes. The following are the most common signs a male cat is in heat:


    When your male cat wants to impregnate a female, they can probably smell the female through the windows or doors. If your cat is suddenly meowing at the window or other places, it may be they can smell an in-heat female. This noise is commonly known as caterwauling, a cross between a howl and a whine.

    Urine spraying

    Urine spraying looks like a cat with a tail straight in the air, projecting their rear at the target. The tail can shake. A spraying cat will mark with urine but use the litter box regularly. The point of urine marking is to mark a cat’s territory. If a female is nearby, a cat may use urine spray to mark the home as their territory.

    Demanding or attention-seeking

    When your cat wants more attention, they may twine between your legs or constantly jump onto your lap. If your cat is typically attention-seeking, it may be fine. However, if this is a new behavior, it could signify your cat wants to be sexual.

    Raising hind into air

    While some cats will hump even after neutering, this could also signify that your cat smells another in heat.

    Begging to go outside

    Many stray cats will be females who aren’t spayed. These females go into heat between February to October, teasing the male cats inside and outside with the scent of her pheromones. If your cat is suddenly begging to go out, he may be smelling a female in heat.

    Rubbing face on things

    Cats rub themselves against things as a way to mark their territory. Like urine spraying, cats will do this to mark their territory against other toms.

    While these signs can be due to smelling a queen in heat, these can also signify illness or stress. If you’re concerned, it would be best to take them to the veterinarian.

    How long are male cats in heat?

    Two cats grooming each other

    As mentioned above, male cats become sexually intimate when they smell a female’s hormones. Since females will be in heat every two to three weeks, this will correspond with how long your male cat can be in heat. However, if multiple female cats around the area are unspayed, it may present a longer-term issue. If your cat is intact, they may have these behaviors the entire season.

    Additionally, mating enthusiasm may be renewed by introducing a new in-heat female. During two hours, tomcats may mate three to six times.

    How can you get male cats to go into heat?

    If you’re trying to breed cats and want your male cat to instigate sex, your queen must be in heat. Estrus is sometimes induced in queens with a follicle-stimulating hormone. When the queen is in-heat, the male would respond.

    Unneutered male cat behavior–how to help

    If your cat is presenting sexual maturity, there may be steps you can take to help reduce the symptoms. You can calm the cat using:

    • Play: An excellent method to help reduce unwanted sexual behavior is a distraction. One of the best ways to do this is to play with them. It could wear your cat out and put them to sleep.
    • Heating Pad: Introducing a warm towel or blanket can help warm your cat. This acts as a natural calming agent. While it’s not always immediately effective, it may help calm your cat. Additionally, it may not work for the first few times.
    • Feliway: Feliway is a pheromone that works by trying to calm your cat. It’s introduced into the environment via a plug-in. It follows your cat’s natural calming instincts.
    • Indoors/Isolation: A male cat’s “in-heat” process is triggered by queens in heat. If your cat doesn’t have access to the outdoors to see or smell the outside, it can calm the feeling. Additionally, if an unspayed female is in the house, keeping them separate during the mating cycle would be best. This is especially important if you don’t want the queen to get pregnant.
    • Vet: If you can’t find other ways to calm your cat, you could always speak to your vet regarding medication or behavioral therapy to help. However, many vets will recommend neutering as a solution to sexual maturity behavior.

    How can I prevent my male cat from going into heat?

    Male or female cat

    The only guaranteed way to prevent your male cat from going into heat is to get them neutered. Neutering reduces the risk of certain health conditions and behavioral issues. Intact males are at greater risk for prostate disease and testicular cancer. Additionally, they are more likely to contract feline leukemia virus (FLV) and feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV). You may neuter a kitten as early as eight weeks.

    If you are hesitant about neutering your cat, your veterinarian can prescribe pills to lower the behavior and chance. However, there is no guarantee.

    Can my cat mate with a cat not in heat?

    Queens won’t allow males to mate if they’re not in heat. There would be no point, and the mating process in cats is painful. Male cats have barbs on their penises which helps eliminate other males’ sperm.

    However, female cats may exhibit “silent heat.” Silent heat is when their ovaries develop an egg and are fertile. However, they won’t have any behavioral signs. The male will still smell the pheromones, and the queen will allow him to mate with her.

    When does a male cat stop mating?

    There are no hard and fast rules to guess when a male cat will stop mating with willing females. Studies have shown male cats will become less interested in reproduction upon reaching senior age. This is usually around seven years old. However, a senior cat can sometimes still produce kittens.

    Can a neutered cat go into heat?

    Neutered males cannot go into heat. The neutering process removes the testicles from the body, which is the testosterone source. However, neutered cats or kittens may still exhibit sexual behaviors for a few weeks after neutering. It takes approximately one month for testosterone to leave the body, so it’s not a quick fix.

    Neutering prevents a male cat from impregnating a female but can also reduce behavior issues. If your cat has a problem with urine marking or spaying, more than 90 percent of cats will mitigate this behavior after being neutered.

    There are additional health benefits to neutering cats. Early neutering reduces the closure of bone growth plates, allowing the cat to grow taller. However, a neutered cat will not display the “tom” cat characteristics such as a muscular body or facial thickenings.

    While it’s not possible for a neutered cat to go into heat, they may still have sexual urges or behaviors. This is more likely if the cat was neutered late in life or had sexual experiences. The most common behavior noted by owners is humping. Seeking attention, territory marking, or a urinary tract infection contributes to humping behavior. If you have noticed changes in your cat’s behavior, it would be best to seek veterinarian help to ensure there are no underlying issues.


    • Elizabeth Lasley

      Elizabeth is an animal lover who is owned by three cats: Vivan, Burr, and Puck. Her passion for writing started in the 9th grade when she began writing her novel. She hasn't stopped since.