How Do I Tell My Child About My Cat Being "In Heat"

Updated on August 24, 2009
T.L. asks from Charleston, WV
14 answers

We recently got another cat. We haven't taken her to the vet to get fixed yet. She is now "in heat". My daughter keeps asking why she is chirping and raising her butt into the air. Anyone know how to describe that to a 7 year old?

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So What Happened?

Thank you for everyone's great help. Normally I would have had the cat fixed before she started this. But someone just dropped her off and it was way too cold not to bring in. I do plan on getting her fixed soon. Thank you.

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M.M.

answers from Jacksonville on

Well at least it isn't a dog dripping blood all over the house. I just told the kids that she was in heat and wanted a daddy dog to help her have puppies. But since we didn't want that it was their jobs to clean up all the spots. My youngest at the time was 6. She went through 4 heats before we had her fixed and he got real good at getting doggy diapers on her. Also at the time we had her spayed we just told my son that she was having the operation so that she would bleed all over the floor and that she wouldn't be able to have babies.
Just keep it simple and honest.

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D.K.

answers from Wheeling on

Hi T.,
It's obvious you do not live on a farm ~ you probably wouldn't have a problem if farm animals were part of your life. That being said, maybe you should just tell her the truth, just by asking this question I can see that not telling the truth isn't an option. You could say the cat is in heat, that her little kitty body is the age when kittens become grown up cats. Use words that may even be above her maturity, appropriate and the right words. For instance, "procreate" etc., but, I wouldn't say that the cat is in heat. I would say it's her season, or she's in season. Kitty cat isn't a kitten anymore, it's her time (or biologically her season) to want to have her own kittens and she is telling us that. But, because there are so many cats out there without nice homes we don't want her to have kittens and that's why we are keeping her inside the house to protect her from what she would naturally do. We choose her to be our pet and not have the responsibilities a mother cat has, because then, she would devote all her time and energy having kitty's instead of being our cat. Tell her more about cats and what they do on farms to keep down mice or rats for the farmers and helps to keep the farm clean from pests. Tell her if you lived on a farm she would have kittens and she would teach them to keep mice away from the other animal's food. My family was here with me watching a National Geographic program on birds and what they do to attract their mates, their rituals were not only hilarious, but beautiful. My 7 year old grandson didn't ask "why" they danced and made the chirping sounds, or why they wanted a mate, perhaps it was because National Geo. does such a good job with the stories concerning life or procreation in our animal kingdom. If my grandson would have asked about the antics the male bird did to attract a mate, I think we would have told him that the birds want to do what we all want. Meet a wonderful mate, build a house or nest, and have little ones, just like mommy and daddy did, or grandma and papa did. I actually am not telling you what to say, it was nice to read that a mom wants to say the right thing. Too much information really doesn't sound like something that would happen. But, for sure, keep an open dialogue with truthful answers to all of her questions. That will serve you well because in just a few years you will want to depend on open lines of communication, and this is the best way to start the dialogue. Good luck T., I'm confident that your daughter will be able to get information concerning these subjects from her mother, instead of her peers.

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D.P.

answers from Asheville on

IMHO, your 7 year old can take a simple explanation, and probably understands a whole bunch more than what you would want to admit!!
Keep it simple, just tell her that when animals get to a certain age, they want to have babies, and they act that way to let the boy cats know that they want a boyfriend.
Unless she asks more detailed questions, let it go at that.
Get the cat spayed asap, and although some female cats still display the "flirty" behavior, it's not as often or as severe. My daughter's cat has been "fixed" for a couple years, and she still acts amorous, but with people, not with the boy cats around. It's really funny to watch her, as you'd think she is in heat, by her actions, but she's not.
Also, don't make up some "fib" about it, just be factual, truthful, and simple. It will build trust between you and your child, and she'll know as she get older that she can ask you questions and expect you to be on the level. That is critical when they get into the puberty and on up.

Best of luck, enjoy the kids and animals.

D.

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V.C.

answers from Wheeling on

At least there isn't a MALE cat there 'doing it' with her causing the need to explain THAT behavior . . . not yet, anyway! LOL

Just tell her that the kitty wants to be a mommy and she's trying to 'catch' a seed to make her babies or trying to attract a boy cat to be a daddy. That should do for now. (I like the anlaogy that 'daddy has a seed and mommy has a seed). Also explain that there are too many kitties and dogs in the world that have no one to love them, so you need to take your kitty to the vet and have her 'baby factory' removed because they usually have a whole bunch at once and it makes the overpopulation problem worse.

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M.S.

answers from Greensboro on

Hi T.,

We lived on a farm so it was really easy there. My girls understood early. The simplest thing to tell her is the truth. She's crying because she wants to have a baby.

God bless!

M.

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K.S.

answers from Hickory on

Stick to the facts, in a simple way. Say "KittyCat wants to have kittens, and needs a boy kitty to help her. That's how she tries to get a boy cat's attention." As far as the rest of the story, only if asked, say, "The boy kitty comes and rubs up against her and helps her make baby kittens that grow inside her until they are big enough to come out." Factual and not graphic.

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S.A.

answers from Fayetteville on

Hi
I find the best way to talk about it is to be simple, straight forward and honest. Just tell her many animals have funny behaviors that are related to mating and finding a mate. You don't have to over explain, esp. with a 7 year old.
Susan

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K.H.

answers from Huntington on

I always like vague honesty. Depending on how vague you feel you need to be you may tell her the cat is trying to get the attention of a boy kitty to be her husband. You could go less vague and say girl cats act that way when they want to be a mommy kitty...

I feel your pain. My 5yo boy loves cats and often asks me to pretend my hand is a kitten (like a puppet). I was absently 'meowing' for him and watching TV, when I noticed her put my hand on the counch and sat on it. Then he started lightly biting it. I asked what he was doing and he told me (in kid terms) that he was eating the afterbirth. Apparently he was paying attention when that Discovery Channel documentary was playing in the background around Christmas time.

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K.S.

answers from Raleigh on

Well, she is 7 yrs old. Good time to get a book and sit down. You could start by reading a cat book to her ABOUT GOING INTO HEAT, it is not too early.
Shame on you for having a cat that you did not get fixed early enough. I hope she doesn't get out!

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D.P.

answers from Raleigh on

If you don't want to get into it, or if you think she is too young to understand, I would just tell her that the cat is acting this way because she needs to go to the vet. Then, take the cat to the vet and get her spayed ASAP.
Or you could try letting her watch some nature shows. She may actually like watching something like Meerkat Manor on Animal Planet. Those little meerkats are precious and they are always running around mating or looking for mates.

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A.G.

answers from Nashville on

Just tell her or him that the cat has a different "meow" when she is looking for a boyfriend. That means if she meets them, she will have baby kittens. Otherwise, keep a close watch on her. Good luck.

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S.A.

answers from Raleigh on

I somewhat disagree with the previous mom... the cat isnt crying because she wants a baby, she's crying because she wants relief! However, that is a bit much to explain to a 7 yr old. I never personally had to deal with that since my cats are male (and neutered). Cats in heat tend to spray so you might find yourself explaining that, too.

A lot depends on how mature your 7 yr old is.

With my 8 year old, I could tell him it's the cat's body changing so that when she is ready, she could have babies. I would also explain that cats can have many babies (though my son has seen this because of a feral cat that hangs around my moms house) and that because there are already too many cats that need homes and not enough people to give them homes, the cat will be going to the vet after its heat cycle to be spayed so she can't have babies.

My eight yr old is mature though... so it depends on what you think she can handle. If you dont think she can handle a more factual truth, then definitely go with the previous mom's response or something close to it...

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M.W.

answers from Huntington on

At 7, a simple explanation will do, something like:
"Thats the girl cats way of letting the boy cats know she is ready to mate" (or "looking for a husband") "so she can have kittens."

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J.T.

answers from Killeen on

T., I know you've rec'd alot of great advice but I have to agree with Debbie, Honesty is the best Policy! I was raised on a farm and when I was 4 asked my mom what the cows were doing climbing on top of each other. Rather than saying they're playing leap frog, she told me the truth. They were making baby calves. That was the end of it. My oldest daughter was not raised on a farm and came home from 1st grade to tell me she knew what daddy and I were doing when we took a nap....she had learned at school that we were having sex! Thankfully she didn't know what sex was, so we had to have a talk. I've learned that if you start by not being truthful then when they do need information they'll think you are lying again. It's best to always be honest, that doesn't mean telling them the whole truth...as I tell my kids, but I will never lie to them. This is actually a good time to start discussing these things...keep in mind, girls are starting puberty and their periods as early as 8 yr old...may need to start talking to her now. Hope this helps and best of luck!