Spayed cats vs. quiescent cats

Can an unneutered tom distinguish between a spayed female and one that happens not to be in heat?

“Kings die, and leave their crowns to their sons. Shmuel HaKatan took all the treasures in the world, and went away.”

You know, this is something I never really thought about before. I would think that the tom is attracted to the behaviors the female exhibits, as well as her scent. A female not in heat is also a lot less recpetive to a tom’s advances. However, since cats can go in and out of heat every few weeks, why take chances? If you have a cat that needs to be spayed or neutered, do it right away.

This is off topic, but what happens to animals who are not spayed? Do they menstrate? Is it messy? What exactly is heat? I assume it means they are ovulating, but what are the telltale signs, and can humans easily notice them?

My input on the situation is as follows. Having a spayed cat I can say that no cat ever got a chance to express any type of emotion towards it other than fighting. Cats are very territorial, and I assume any time the cat is not in heat the other cats fight. This may change under abnormal circumatances, like lot of wild cats in a densly populated city, and definately when cats are raised in a house together.

The facts expressed here belong to everybody, the opinions to me. The distinction is
yours to draw…

Omniscient; BAG

Aside from seeming to me to be a good general question, this does have some personal applicability (well, not me personally, but to my surroundings).
We have a pre-owned female cat, that was spayed (we took her to the vet, and found that it had already been done). In the neighboorhood are a couple of feral toms, which, by the nature of things, are intact.
One of the toms has been prowling about. Although he may merely have annexed our yard as part of his territory during the winter, when “Patches” was but little in evidence, he has shown what my wife has interpreted as interest, at least in herding her around. Possibly, we thought, he wants to keep her under control until she comes into heat, not knowing that she *won’t<i/> come in to heat.
*Patches can certainly sound as if she were in heat, especially when she wants to Go Out :slight_smile: (she’s a blue tortoiseshell bicolor, but we think that there must be some Siamese in her ancestry somewhere, given the vocalizations :slight_smile: ).

“Kings die, and leave their crowns to their sons. Shmuel HaKatan took all the treasures in the world, and went away.”

Cats are territorial and solitary creatures. In general, cats only come together for fighting (usually over territory) and mating. Therefore, it wouldn’t matter much to a tom whether or not a queen has been spayed.

On the other hand, some cats (like other critters) continue to show some of the behaviors that would otherwise indicate reproductive readiness. One of my (neutered) male cats used to try to mount a female kitten all the time. She may have sensed that he couldn’t follow up on his suggestions, though, since she always seemed to lie down under him, rather than maintaining the “position”… (She went into heat too young for spaying, and then STAYED in heat for months. We were hoping she’d go out of heat, since it’s not fun to try to spay a cat in heat.) Two other male cats of mine, both neutered, would masterbate regularly, one on a blanket, the other on a teddy bear. (Don’t ask.)

As for the explanation of heat, for whoever asked: yes, heat (estrus) occurrs around ovulation. Cats, at least, don’t ovulate until mating has taken place. That’s probably because they are solitary critters. You can often tell when a female is in heat, by behaviors like calling for males (kitty talk for “Hey, Sailor”), sqatting, peeing everywhere, etc. In horses, some mares can’t go more than a foot without sqatting, peeing, and winking their vulva. Others will have “silent heats”, where only those closest to them can tell that they’re in heat. Just like humans, there’s a wide variation.

      • Cats do not menstruate in the “human” sense of the word. The inner tissue of the uterine cavity is expelled as part of the placenta, after kittens are born. If the cat never gets pregnant, the uterine tissue will never get expelled, and it will become infected and need to be removed surgically. The vet can simply clean out the old tissue and put everything back the way it was, but for ordinary regular cats they will usually recommend spaying at the same time since everything is already opened up.
      • As Cecil noted, male and female cats can and will “learn” to act as if they were intact, even if they aren’t. Usually another intact cat has to “teach” them by example, such as marking in their territory - they don’t learn it on their own. The other cat can be the same sex or opposite. - MC

I take this shit seriously because I have five cats and I’ve picked all of them up off the street. Get your goddamn cat spayed or altered or neutered or whatever you want to call it. Your cat WILL reproduce unless you somehow manage to keep it locked up, which you’re not likely to do… This is going to create unwanted kittens, which you’re either going to take to the pound where they will probably be gassed, or you’re going to dump on the street, which is where I keep finding mine. Yeah, they’re so cute…then you kill them or dump them. Sterilize your cats, please. Please.

No kidding.

Cats are much more pleasant to have around the house when they’ve been fixed, anyways.

MLE wrote in about a cat that went into heat ans was too young to be spayed. What exactly is meant by too young? Cats can be spayed or neutered at 8 weeks of age. In fact, if you adopt a kitten from the Humane Society, the procedure will most likely have already been done. (They do the early “fixing” with puppies too).

Akatsukami writes that his female cat is coming into contact with stray toms. Pregnancy obviously isn’t an issue, since he knows his cat is spayed, but DISEASE is still a big problem! Keeping a cat vaccinated is extremely effective in preventing disease, but nothing is 100 percent. Stray toms are highly likely to be harboring some serious disease, such as feline AIDS or leukemia. These diseases are very contagious and not curable. If possible, keep your kitties indoors.

I’d write more about everything you never wanted to know about cat reproduction and diseases, but I just worked at the emergency clinic for 29 hours (with 6.5 hours of sleep in between shifts), so it is time for me to get some real sleep.

Michelle writes:

<sigh> You’re right; Patches (and every other non-working cat) should be kept indoors. There is not only the concern of disease, but also that, in this area, there are not only feral cats, but also skunks, raccoons, and coyotes, all of whom have passed through the yard at one time.
Unfortunately, we also have a budgie (who the Senior Pet, and whose needs are therefore considered to outweigh those of the cat, which was, in essence, accidentally acquired), and large areas of the house are therefore off-limits to Patches. I (being more comfortable with cats) tend to turn a blind eye to anything except going into the living room (where the budgie cage is kept when he’s not out), but my wife is much more strict, and will not tolerate anything save Patches’ walking in a straight line from the study to the back door. The alternative to letting her Go Out (and, trust me, if you heard her crying and pawing at the pet gate, you’d agree with the emphasis) is to spend as much as half an hour petting her to calm her down; I’m not always able to do so (occasionally, I have to do some remunerative work). As a compromise, she can go out fairly freely during the day, but is left indoors at night (fortunately, she sleeps almost through the night, so this isn’t much of a problem :slight_smile: ).

Oh, please do come back and inform us (after you’ve gotten some real sleep, that is :slight_smile: ); I’m of the opinion that I can never hear too much from those with authentic knowledge, even if (I sincerely hope) cat reproduction and disease with remain a topic of only academic interest to me.

“Kings die, and leave their crowns to their sons. Shmuel HaKatan took all the treasures in the world, and went away.”

I suppose if anyone has any specific questions about pet care, they can e-mail me. If I don’t know the answer, I can ask one of the doctors I work with. Any adivce or info I provide is not meant to be an alternative to actually seeking out professional care.

When it comes to my own pets, I am very permissive with them. The cats (count back up to 4) do pretty much anything they want. It is a good thing they are generally well behaved, because 2 of my 4 birds are allowed out of their cages. I have never had to pull a cat off one of my birds yet. Actually, it is more like I would have to pull Pepe (the African Grey) off of one of my cats! Thankfully, everyone gets along.

The consensus (I also checked with a couple of vets) seems to be that:
[list=a][li]Unneutered males probably can’t tell the difference between intact females not in heat and spayed females, but nobody’s ever been interested enough to conduct a study, and[/li][li]The behaviors seen between Patches and the feral tom are more likely to be territorial than sexual in nature.[/list=a][/li]
Thanks everyone (and especially Michelle, whom I bothered off-line about another animal-related matter) for your advice.

“Kings die, and leave their crowns to their sons. Shmuel HaKatan took all the treasures in the world, and went away.”

As the roommate of several cats, I can assure you that cats un-spayed and un-neutured are a general pain in the ass. They are more likely to mark their territory (both males and females, TRUST ME) and they are more aggressive. As for male cats distinguishing between the spayed and unspayed, I don’t believe they can. In our house, the neuured siamese is always trying to mate with the un-spayed calico when she’s in heat.
Finally, on the subject of menstruating animals; my mother had a female laborador from the time she was a puppy. When Molly went into heat the first time (before she was old enough to get spayed) she writhed all over the house leaving a little trail of menstrual blood wherever she went.

“Man prefers to believe what he prefers to be true” -Albert Einstein

Argh. Thanks for the visual, Alias. :o
[Note: This message has been edited by Nickrz]

I know I am supposed to be a professional, but it still cracks me up every time I see a female dog wearing one of those doggie sanitary napkins.

Akatsukami, we have a cat that we got spayed, but there are STILL always tons of tomcats around. all…the…time. finally, we mentioned it to the vet, and she got concerned and then found out that when the cat was spayed, the (other) vet had accidentally left a piece of the ovary in her. The vet said she wouldn’t be able to have kittens, but she could still go into “heat” (sort of) and male cats detected that. So maybe you should see if that happened with your cat…if the vet made the mistake (apparently they do it alot) they will probably correct it for free…at least, you can ask :slight_smile:

“Who controls the past controls the future; who controls the present controls the past.” --1984

Thanks for the suggestion, Gundhilde. Unfortunately, Patches was spayed by a previous owner and then abandoned, and we have no idea who the operating vet was. I am reluctant to subject her to an invasive procedure without more evidence than I have now that that procedure will correct the problem.

“Kings die, and leave their crowns to their sons. Shmuel HaKatan took all the treasures in the world, and went away.”

[[if the vet made the mistake (apparently they do it alot) ]]

::cough cough:: Ahem. I’ll pretend I didn’t see this…

As for checking to see if the cat was spayed correctly or not, there are blood panels that can be run that check hormone levels. It ISN’T something that needs to be done often.