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C2003-18

Dear Christopher Cat

The veterinarian where we used to live spayed my cat three years ago.  Now she’s acting like she’s in heat again.  Is that possible?

Christopher Responds

Yes.  When a cat is spayed, her uterus and both ovaries are removed to prevent unwanted heat signs and pregnancy and to decrease the risk of some cancers.

Years later, bits of ovarian tissue too small to have been seen during the spay procedure may begin to secrete hormones – and cause heat signs.  The condition is called ovarian remnant syndrome.

She can’t get pregnant, but if the heat signs bother her or you, ask your veterinarian to do a vaginal smear.  If she’s in heat, the cells lining the vagina will have a characteristic appearance under the microscope.

If that’s the finding, talk with your veterinarian about exploratory surgery.  When the ovarian tissue is secreting hormones, it is swollen enough that it often can be identified and removed – which stops the heat signs.

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