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. (In fact, this is actually a misuse of the term ‘in heat’ but fine enough for everyday conversation.)
How to calm a male cat during mating season
Again, male cats do not go into heat, but 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.
The real question, though, isn’t why male cats get frisky, which is obvious enough; it’s how to deal with a male cat when his sexual arousal becomes more than you can stand. As for that, the tips on this page should provide some relief.
And yet, to be sure, you could be 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, again, is not ‘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 only way to ensure a tom won’t respond to the calls made by females, or ‘queens,’ 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 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. 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 be playing 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.
- 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). Changing the location of his bowl so he eats in another room than the one he sleeps in and feeding him smaller servings more frequently can force him to tap into that otherwise pent-up energy and help give your grandma’s quilt a break
- 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.
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 (though, for female cats, this might be as late as October or never). Consequently, spaying or neutering your pet(s) is highly recommended.
This article is part of our series on cats in heat.