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What is Estrus Symptoms after Spaying?

Some owners assume the only telling sign of estrus in felines is, of course, vaginal bleeding. However, dramatic behavioral changes also inform owners of their pet’s status, such as continuous vocalization and elevated pelvic movements. Pet owners take their cats to be spayed in order to eliminate these behaviors, and they are surprised whenever the surgery does not prevent their female from going into heat.

The estrus heat cycle refers to the feline reproductive process that has four stages: anestrus, proestrus, estrus, and metestrus. Cats typically experience their first estrus cycle once they reach puberty, which is approximately six months of age. This period may last anywhere from one to seven days. Generally, cats are known as seasonally polyestrous, experiencing multiple cycles during the breeding season and potentially year-long if they are primarily indoor pets. It is normal for cats to become excessively affectionate during this time, rubbing against furniture and constantly demanding attention. 

Symptoms of Estrus Symptoms after Spaying in Cats

Despite owner expectations, some cats continue to display symptoms of estrus following a spay procedure, which is technically termed an ovariohysterectomy. These symptoms may manifest a few days or even a few weeks following a queen’s surgery. You may witness your pet demonstrating the following:

  • Incessant vocalization, howling
  • Head rubbing
  • Restlessness
  • Rolling over and twisting continuously
  • Curious tail movements
  • Rear quarters elevated
  • Marking to spread pheromones to attract males

Causes of Estrus Symptoms after Spaying in Cats

There are several possible explanations for a female cat’s estrus symptoms after she has recovered from surgery. A spaying procedure involves the removal of the uterus and ovaries in a queen’s reproductive biology, but in some cases a vet has failed to remove both ovaries. This is the most common reasoning behind such behavior. 

Other causes may be traced to an abnormal ovarian tissue, which, if it remains functional, will secrete hormones that inspire the cat to demonstrate that she is in heat.

In rare cases, it is possible that the cat possesses a supernumerary ovary, or an excessive number of ovaries. If none of these suspicions are confirmed, adrenal conditions are the last found cause of a cat’s strange behavior.

Diagnosis of Estrus Symptoms after Spaying in Cats

Veterinary consultation is the only realistic option for diagnosis and treatment of estrus is cats that have already been spayed. Diagnosis at home is not recommended. When one pursues professional care as advised, it is always a good idea to provide the veterinarian one uses with a thorough medical history of the cat. 

The first step a veterinarian usually takes is a conducting a complete physical examination. Blood tests, biochemistry profiles, and urinary analyses are typical. These tests will usually point to the issue at hand.

A vaginal smear test is a procedure done by a veterinary practitioner specifically to detect estrus symptoms. This test is able to read estrogen and progesterone hormone levels, which will be higher than expected in a post-surgery cat. Ultrasounds may also be utilized to locate any ovarian tissue that may be present in the abdomen.

Treatment of Estrus Symptoms after Spaying in Cats

Professional veterinary care is also necessary in the treatment of this condition. If ovarian tissue is suspected to be present in the cat’s abdomen, exploratory surgery will be done. If a veterinarian does locate ovarian tissue, it can be removed at that time. In some cases, a second round of surgery may be necessary to remove any leftover ovarian follicles. 

Corticosteroid administration may follow, which is essentially a hormone treatment to help ameliorate the symptoms of estrus if an adrenal condition is a secondary or primary concern. Short-acting corticosteroids should result in the complete disappearance of these symptoms.

Recovery of Estrus Symptoms after Spaying in Cats

Prognosis is overwhelmingly positive for cats who undergo surgery following the diagnosis of remnant ovarian tissue or follicles in the abdomen. Of course, anesthesia is a necessary component of this procedure, and cats that are sensitive or allergic to this may experience additional issues. This is why communication with one’s veterinarian is paramount; one should put forth as much information as possible as far as medical experiences and idiosyncrasies are concerned. 

Cat patients will be placed on a painkiller regimen for several days following exploratory surgery. Preventative antibiotics may also be prescribed in order to keep the cat safe from infection. Proper nutrition and rest are key here, and any additional medication or supplements should not be given to the cat without the veterinarian’s recommendation. 

In the instance of a rare adrenal problem, medication should be the only medical treatment the cat receives. 

In all cases, living and management following the diagnosis and treatment of estrus in cats should be relatively easy and involve a quick recovery. 

Estrus Symptoms after Spaying Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Fred and Ginger
6 Months
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms



My kitten (approx. 5-6 month old) was spayed yesterday, WHILE she was in her FIRST/SECOND DAY of an ACTIVE HEAT cycle and is now at home recovering. The surgeon/vet said that she did very well and had no complications. Problem is, that 12 hours after surgery she began exhibiting the same heat cycle symptoms she was doing 24 hours before the surgery. She is back to rolling on the ground and making little vocalizations, very quiet vocalizations, not anything like the extremely loud and constant yowling she was doing incessantly 24 hours prior. I am concerned, however, as I thought the spaying would eliminate ALL behaviors. Could it be that since she was just spayed yesterday there are some residual hormones floating around that will need to be "excreted" out? Does this have to do with her being spayed while in an active heat cycle?
My second question is, her litter mate brother, was also neutered at the same time she was spayed. They actually had mated 12-18 hours before their surgeries. Now, since he is at home recovering, he has begun to display very aggressive behavior towards his "sister". He was hissing and stalking her so my husband and me had to separate them for fear he would bite her. I thought that neutering, made a male kitten more docile! He was VERY loving and VERY affectionate with her since birth so what the heck is going on? His behavior is beyond alarming. The vet said he did very well and had no complications so why is he acting like this? My husband and me think that the only reason could be that he is anxious around her because she is wearing that Elizabethan collar and it is huge and makes a ton of noise when she walks. Could he just be afraid of her collar? I sure hope he will not remain aggressive like this as he was not like this at all for 6 months prior. He is very affectionate with the humans in the house but when he sees her he starts hissing, and swishing his tail in anger. Please give us some advice as the last few days have been extremely challenging. Thank you!

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2492 Recommendations
It can take some time for the hormones to leave both of their systems, whilst the source of the hormones (ovaries and testes) have been removed the hormones will still be circulating in the body and will take some time to leave the system. Aggression in males may take a few weeks to improve, but one day is still very early days and I wouldn’t be concerned at this point; also bear in mind that the effects of the anaesthesia may still be having an influence on behaviour. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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1 Year
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Yowling, extreme rubbing, restless

My cat is about 1 1/2 yrs old, she was spayed as soon as she was old enough to be spayed. Lucy never exibited any signs of estris until she was a couple of months past her 1st bday. I took her to the vet that spayed her after the third time he said he didn't think that she could have any left over uterine tissue that was causing it because the estris would have happened way before it did and that she was doing it during the wrong time of the year (fall/winter) instead of spring/summer. He suggested we try a round of antibiotics first to see if she possibly has a urinary tract infection. Well one week after completing the antibiotics she is ramping up to estris again. The question I have is if the information he relayed to me is correct about the probability of uterine tissue not being Lucy's problem because it would have happened a lot sooner than it did. He also spoke about a lot of expensive tests and I think adrenal problems.

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1076 Recommendations
Thank you for your email. Lucy is actually at about the time when she might be coming into her first heat, if she were a little delayed. That is possible. Cats don't tend to come into heat seasonally, and can have that happen anytime of the year. An ovarian remnant is high on the list of possible reasons for that to be happening. The good news is that if it is a remnant, surgery will allow your veterinarian to find the tissue, and things should be back to normal if that is the cause.

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2 Years
Serious condition
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Has Symptoms


My cat was spayed a year ago and is going into heat again now. I did a blood test for her and she does have hormones in her system. The vet did not recommend an exploratory surgery due to the low chance of the remaining tissue being found since it is so small. What other forms of treatment are there besides surgery?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2492 Recommendations

The most probable cause of a cat showing signs of estrus after spaying is due to ovarian remnant syndrome where some ovarian tissue is left behind after spaying causing the cat to show signs of estrus. An exploratory laparotomy is usually performed to detect any remaining ovarian tissue and to remove it. Other causes may be down to supernumerary ovary where a cat has more than two or due to compensatory mechanisms by the body due to the removal of the ovaries. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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