Estrus Symptoms after Spaying in Cats

By PetMD Editorial on Sep. 30, 2009

Ovarian Remnant Syndrome in Cats

An ovariohysterectomy is a surgical procedure in which the uterus and ovaries are removed from a female cat. Such a removal results in the cessation of subsequent estrus (heat) symptoms in the female. However, some female cats continue to exhibit the behavioral and/or physical signs pertaining to estrus even after such a surgery, and are found to have some ovarian tissue that had not been removed during surgery and was left behind. If such tissue remains functional and continues to secrete hormones, estrus behavior will continue. Such symptoms are typically seen within few days after surgery.

Symptoms and Types

  • Excessive vocalization
  • Signs of heat (e.g., elevation of pelvis to facilitate intercourse [lordosis])
  • Restlessness
  • Head rubbing
  • Rolling around
  • Deviation of tail
  • Swelling of the vulva
  • May allow sexual intercourse to take place


  • Failure to remove both ovaries completely during surgery
  • Presence of abnormal ovarian tissue
  • Supernumerary ovary (excessive number of ovaries - rare)


You will need to give a thorough medical history of your cat's health, onset of symptoms, and of course, whether and when your cat had the ovariohysterectomy. The history will usually include behavioral changes and signs of estrus that have taken place even after a successful surgical removal of the ovaries and uterus. After taking a complete history, your veterinarian will conduct a complete physical examination. Standard laboratory tests will include a complete blood count (CBC), biochemistry profile, and urinalysis. It is not unusual for the results of these tests to return within normal ranges.

More specific tests for measuring your cat's hormones may show estrogen and progesterone levels that are higher than should be expected in a post-surgery cat. A cytological examination of samples taken from the vagina will also help in determining the status of estrus in your cat. In addition, ultrasound can be used to determine whether any ovarian tissue residues are present. However, in some cases abdominal surgery may be required to confirm the presence of ovarian tissue. If this is found to be the case, removal of these residual tissues can take place at that time.


After reaching a confirmatory diagnosis, your veterinarian will consult with you about a second round of surgery to remove any left-over functioning ovarian tissue.

Living and Management

Prognosis is very good after the removal of ovarian tissue residues has been performed. All abnormal symptoms should resolve soon after surgery.

Patients undergoing an ovariohysterectomy or follow-up surgery to remove remaining tissue will need painkillers for a few days after surgery. Preventive antibiotics are also used for some patients to prevent infection. Give medications as prescribed and follow the guidelines for proper nutrition and medication. Do not give any additional medications or supplements to your cat without first consulting your veterinarian.

Image: Nikolai Tsvetkov via Shutterstock

Health Tools

Not sure whether to see a vet?

Answer a few questions about your pet's symptom, and our vet-created Symptom Checker will give you the most likely causes and next steps.

Help us make PetMD better

Was this article helpful?

Get Instant Vet Help Via Chat or Video. Connect with a Vet. Chewy Health