Wednesday, 5 March 2008

I'm NOT in love!

Cindy is a delightful little cat who came to us as an unwanted pet a couple of weeks ago. The person bringing her wasn't too sure of her age, nor whether she had been spayed or not. We estimate her age to be around a year.

At the weekend we noticed that Cindy (who up to then had been rather aggressive, due to the stress of being in our centre), had suddenly become very friendly.

Some of the younger and less experienced volunteers felt that it was due to her starting to settle, but the "old hands" had a feeling that other factors were at work. Sure enough as the weekend progressed, Cindy began rolling and shouting. Her vocal range went from low deep throaty miaows to high pitched ear-splitting shrieks, all accompanied by trills and carrols! Yes, Cindy had come into season.

It is very obvious when cats come into season - their behaviour changes quite dramatically, they display what can only be described as provocative behaviour and their vocal range changes too.

The cats spend a lot of time with their stomachs lowered, often with their tail up in the air or moved to one side, they roll a lot and often rub their faces against furniture etc. Another indicator is the number of unknown cats - toms - who often appear as if by magic and hang around looking hopeful. Quite often they will fight each other too.

Female cats - or queens - can come into season as early as 5 months, but a great number of vets still won't neuter until the cat is aged 6 months plus. So it is possible that the cat could be mated before the age of 6 months, even when owned by the most responsible owner. Owners of female cats should therefore make sure that they are aware of the indicators of a cat coming into season, and take precautions to keep her indoors for the duration. Owners of tom cats should also be encouraged to neuter their cats, and although again many vets won't perform this operation before the cat reaches six months, tom cats usually don't reach maturity until they are a little big older.

Most of the pregnant females who come into our care are aged less than a year, and this is very young for them to carry a litter. They are still only babies themselves, barely out of kittenhood, and their bodies still aren't fully grown.

And as for the title of this blog entry, there is no even love involved. Mating is a hormone-driven behaviour, and is painful for the female cat too. Please be aware of the signs of calling and take steps to protect your cat if you can't have her spayed before six months.