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Cat Hormones: How They Affect Male & Female Felines

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	Dr. Paola Cuevas Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Paola Cuevas

MVZ (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Just like humans, cats have hormones are naturally and constantly released by their endocrine system. These hormones help regulate a cat’s behavior, moods and bodily functions. Cat hormones have an important role in maintaining a cat’s health, including its metabolism, reproductive cycle, development, growth and behaviors. Let’s learn more about a cat’s hormones and how they affect their actions in this article.

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How Do Cat Hormones Work?: The Endocrine System

The endocrine system is a complex network of glands and organs that secrete hormones in the body. In cats, it consists of the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, parathyroid glands, thyroid gland, adrenal glands, pancreas, kidneys, and ovaries or testes. These glands secrete hormones, which are released into the bloodstream to be used by other parts of the body.

Hormones vs Pheromones

Hormones and pheromones are often confused as they both affect cat behavior. Hormones are chemical messengers produced by the endocrine glands that regulate bodily functions. Pheromones, also produced by glands, are chemicals released by animals that have an influence on the behavior of other animals of the same species. Pheromones can be used to mark territorial boundaries or attract mates, while hormones regulate the body’s processes. Felinine is the cat pheromone that helps cats mark their territory and recognize other cats.

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What Are the Different Cat Hormones?

Every single hormone has an important part in the regulation of the cat’s bodily functions. Common hormones to hear about include insulin, testosterone, estrogen, progesterone, cortisol, adrenaline, and thyroxine. However, hormones like GnRH, calcitonin, prolactin, and oxytocin, to name a few, also have crucial roles in certain processes and do affect a cat’s behavior.

  • Insulin: Regulates the blood glucose levels and energy usage by the cell.
  • Testosterone: is responsible for male characteristics and sexual behavior.
  • Estrogen and progesterone: are involved in the reproductive cycle of female cats and regulate their heat cycles.
  • Cortisol: helps manage stress responses and regulate metabolism.
  • Adrenaline: is released in response to excitement or fear and can make a cat more alert.
  • Thyroxine: regulates the body’s metabolism.

How Hormones Affect Behavior

Cat hormones can affect a cat’s behavior in various ways. For example, testosterone is responsible for marking behaviors such as spraying urine on objects and aggressive behavior towards other cats. Adrenaline and cortisol can lead to a cat acting more alert or panicked, while estrogen and progesterone can cause a female cat to show physical signs of being in heat, such as increased vocalization, frequent rubbing, rolling around, and even spraying urine.

domestic cats mating
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Where Is Each Hormone Produced In the Body?

Insulin is produced by the endocrine portion of the pancreas. Testosterone is produced in the testes of male cats and the ovaries of female cats. Estrogen and progesterone are produced in the ovaries of female cats. Cortisol is produced in the adrenal glands, while adrenaline and thyroxine are both made by the thyroid gland.

Cat Endocrine Syetem
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Hormonal Differences Between Male and Female Cats

Male cats have higher levels of testosterone than female cats, which can lead to aggressive behavior and territorial marking. Female cats on the other hand, have higher levels of estrogen and progesterone which affect their reproductive cycle and behaviors.

How Hormones Affect Female Cats

Female cats have higher levels of estrogen and progesterone, which can lead to signs of being in heat. During the heat cycle, female cats may be more likely to roam and call for a mate. They may also display aggressive behaviors towards other female cats.

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How Hormones Affect Male Cats

Male cats have higher levels of testosterone, which can lead to aggressive or territorial behavior. Male cats may also mark their territory by spraying urine. Furthermore, they may attempt to mate with female cats during the mating season.


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Hormones and Spay/Neuter

Spaying or neutering a cat can help reduce many of the behaviors caused by hormones. This procedure removes the reproductive organs, and thus reduces or eliminates the production of certain hormones such as testosterone and estrogen. This can lead to decreased aggression, territory marking, and roaming behavior in cats. Neutering also helps to ensure that male cats do not accidentally mate with female cats in the area.

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Do Cats Go Through Menopause?

No, cats do not go through menopause. Menopause is a condition experienced by female humans in which their reproductive hormone estrogen declines with age. Cats’ hormone production does not tend to decrease with age.

However, cats can still experience changes in hormone levels due to treatments such as spaying and neutering or medical conditions. It is important to monitor your cat’s health, diet, and lifestyle and consult your vet if you suspect any changes in their hormones.

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Cat Diseases Associated with Hormone Imbalance

Hormone imbalances can be caused by a variety of diseases, such as thyroid issues, diabetes, and adrenal gland disorders. These diseases can cause a cat to experience drastic changes in behavior, as well as physical symptoms such as hair loss or increased drinking and urination.

Hormone imbalances in cats can also lead to reproductive issues such as irregular heat cycles or the inability for a cat to get pregnant if you’re trying to breed them. Imbalances in cortisol levels can also cause increased anxiety and stress, which can lead to behavioral problems.

Identifying and treating hormone imbalances as soon as possible is important for maintaining your cat’s health. If your cat is exhibiting signs of a hormone imbalance, it is important to take them to the vet for a proper diagnosis and treatment.

Signs of a Hormone Imbalance in Cats

If a cat has an imbalance of hormones, it can affect their overall health and behavior. Signs of a hormone imbalance may include excessive weight gain or loss, increased aggression or anxiety, changes in appetite, difficulty sleeping, and more. If you notice any of these signs in your cat, it is important to take them to the vet as soon as possible for a proper diagnosis and treatment.

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How Can I Support My Cat Through Hormonal Imbalances?

The best way to support your cat through a hormonal imbalance is to take them to the vet for an examination and any necessary treatments or therapies. Additionally, monitoring your cat’s diet and lifestyle can help maintain healthy hormone levels. You can also provide comfort and reassurance by spending quality time with your cat and making sure they have a safe, comfortable place to rest. Finally, if your cat has been prescribed medication, it is important to administer it properly and follow your vet’s instructions for dosage and frequency.


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Other Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: How do cat hormones affect metabolism?

A: Thyroxine is the hormone responsible for regulating a cat’s metabolism. High levels of thyroxine can lead to increased appetite, while low levels may cause decreased appetite. Additionally, insulin regulates the cells’ ability to use glucose as a source of energy. 

Q: What can I do to reduce my cat’s stress levels?

A: Stress in cats is often caused by changes in the environment. To help reduce your cat’s stress levels, provide them with a safe and comfortable environment free from loud noises or sudden movements. Additionally, ensure that your cat has plenty of toys and playtime to keep them entertained. Regular visits to the vet can also help keep your cat healthy and reduce stress levels.

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Q: How can I help my cat stay healthy?

A: The best way to ensure your cat stays healthy and has a balanced hormone level is to provide them with a nutritious diet, plenty of exercise, and regular veterinary check-ups. Additionally, providing your cat with toys and interactive playtime can help reduce stress levels and keep them entertained.

Q: What should I do if I’m concerned about my cat’s hormones?

A: If you’re worried that your cat may have a problem with hormones, the best thing to do is take them to the vet for an examination. Your vet will be able to conduct tests and recommend any necessary treatments or therapies. Additionally, it is important to keep an eye on your cat’s behavior and activity levels to ensure their hormones remain balanced and healthy.

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Cat hormones play an important role in regulating the body’s functions, as well as influencing behaviors in cats. It is important for pet owners to understand their cat’s hormones and how they can affect their behavior. This knowledge can help pet owners better understand their cat, anticipate behavioral changes, and make the most of their relationship with their beloved companion.

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