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Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:

My cat is a 5-year-old unspayed female. She is small for her age, weighing about 4 pounds. She is very active, eats normally, drinks normally. She was peeing small amounts around the house and the vet diagnosed her with a urinary infection and she went on antibiotics. This is the second time in 2 years she’s had a UTI and she eats special food to prevent crystals in her urine. Otherwise the vet said she seemed healthy. Within the last 9 months we moved to a new house and had a baby. Our cat has been through several moves without issue and is normally quite adaptable. For the last six months she’s been pacing around the house in roughly the same route every evening until the early hours of the morning. She has always be very active and vocal, but she seems to be almost yelling to herself. She continues to play with our other older cat and the dog, and seeks cuddles regularly from us. However, she still continues to pee small amounts around the house. Could the repetitive pacing and peeing be anxiety?

~ Brit

Thomas: Considering that your cat has a history of urinary tract problems, a visit to the vet should be your first step to figuring out why she’s peeing.

Bella: But we suspect that what you’ve got there is a cat in heat.

Thomas: Unspayed females regularly come into the season where they’re receptive to mating, and one of the easiest ways to tell your cat is in heat is that she’ll start vocalizing, pacing and possibly even urine-marking or spraying.

Bella: All of this is a call to male cats saying “I want to have your babies! Come to me now!”

Thomas: You may not have noticed this behavior previously — maybe because you didn’t live in a place where there were intact male cats around to trigger that behavior.

Bella: This video shows a cat in heat. You can hear how she’s crying and carrying on, and you can see some of the common behaviors of a cat in heat.

Thomas: Where is she? Where is she? Where’s that poor kitty in heat? I know she’s around here somewhere!

Bella: Thomas! You couldn’t do anything about it even if you could find her! You’re neutered!

Thomas: Oh, yeah.

Bella: Anyway, Britt, cats in heat are great escape artists, and there’s a very good chance your girl is going to get out and get herself pregnant!

Thomas: We would recommend in the strongest possible terms that you have your cat spayed.

Bella: Did you know that being in heat is torture for cats — especially if they don’t get satisfied? They’re doing all that crying because the sensation of being in heat is like a kind of physical pain. And that if a cat doesn’t get mated during her heat, the heat cycles can get closer and closer together until your kitty is almost constantly in heat.

Thomas: Wow, that would be horrible.

Bella: But Britt, spaying prevents a lot more than unwanted kittens. Did you know that unspayed cats are a lot more likely to develop breast cancer?

Thomas: And breast cancer in cats is really grim! It spreads widely, progresses rapidly and has a high recurrence rate. Cats over age 6 are at the greatest risk.

Bella: Eighty precent of breast tumors in cats are cancerous! If you do keep your girl intact, make sure to examine her mammary glands every month — and if you feel even a tiny little lump, get to the vet right away.

Thomas: Unspayed females often develop ovarian cysts and can develop life-threatening uterine infections.

Bella: We know spaying can be expensive, especially since you’ve just had a baby. But the good news is there are low-cost spay/neuter clinics all over the U.S. and Canada, and probably in much of western Europe, Australia and New Zealand as well.

Thomas: If you’re in the U.S., SpayUSA is a great resource to locate low-cost spay/neuter resources in your area.

Bella: For the sake of your sanity and your kitty’s health, we hope you’ll take the time to get your kitty spayed. She deserves a life free of the agony of estrus.

Thomas: Have any of you other readers waited to get your cat spayed? Did your cat suffer consequences because of it?

Bella: Have you seen the results of leaving a cat unspayed? Please share your thoughts in the comments … and be nice to the person who wrote this letter! People write to us because they care about their cats and want to know how to help them. If you say nasty things to or about Britt, we’re going to delete your comments. So there!