Albuquerque Journal Article – Spayed Cat Comes into Heat

An Ovarian Remnant May Be Lurking


Pepper, aka Ms. Incorrigible, was a newly spayed rescue. After 6 weeks, she went into heat behavior. A second spaying procedure found 25% of an ovary which was removed. 9 months later she displayed the same behavior-insisting on getting out at night, vocalizing, climbing screens, etc. Of course she was being courted by male cats. Daytimes, we found feral cats and Pepper enjoying each other. This heat cycle went away after 10 sleepless nights. About a month later this started again, same behavior, same suitors lasting 7-9 days. She is now back to Pepper instead of Ms. Incorrigible. I am hesitant to put her through a third surgical procedure.


Dr. Nichol:

You’ve had sleepless nights? What about Pepper, aka Ms. Popularity? With all that frolicking and cavorting she must be exhausted.

Spaying a cat (ovariohysterectomy) involves removal of the uterus and both ovaries. There may have been a portion of each Pepper’s ovaries left behind causing her continuing hormone fluctuations. Another remnant may need to be discovered and removed. It’s also possible that an ovary was actually damaged during surgery which then “seeded” Pepper’s abdomen with tiny bits of its tissue. Multiple little hormone producing glands would be scattered in minute locations, making them impossible to find and remove. While an unlikely scenario, Pepper could be a lifelong tom cat magnet. We need to find out what’s going on and where.

The best way of determining if Pepper still has ovarian tissue of any kind would be to do an HCG challenge test the next time Miss Popularity’s behavior emerges, you know, when she once again entertains gentleman callers and dresses provocatively. The HCG hormone would be given by injection. A blood sample for a progesterone assay would be taken 7-14 days later.  An elevated result would indicate functional ovarian tissue.

If Pepper were my kitty I would follow a positive test with an abdominal ultrasound. A veterinary internist could pinpoint the location of an ovarian remnant, making its removal a low-stress day surgery.

I’m inviting you, my faithful readers, to send me a short video and/or still photo of a pet behavior that bothers or amuses you. Please post them on I will explain the top 5 as video vignettes. Dog and cat shenanigans only please.


Dr. Jeff Nichol treats behavior disorders at the Veterinary Emergency & Specialty Centers in Albuquerque and Santa Fe (505-792-5131). Questions on pet behavioral or physical concerns? For answers, Like my Facebook page or by US Post to 4000 Montgomery Blvd. NE, Albuq, NM 87109.