Neutering your cat is one of the most important decisions you can make with regard to being a responsible cat parent.
Benefits of neutering
There are multiple benefits to neutering your cat. First and foremost it prevents the risk of unwanted pregnancy and helps to reduce feral and stray cat populations. Additionally it reduces the risk of your cat developing specific diseases and unsociable behavioural traits.
1. Physical Benefits
- • Neutering your female cat removes the risk of ovarian and/or uterine disease including cancer, pyometra, polycystic ovaries and metritis. It also decreases the risk of hormone-induced diseases (e.g. mammary cancer and false-pregnancy).
- • In male cats, neutering removes the risk of testicular disease including cancer and decreases the risk of testosterone-induced diseases (e.g. prostatitis, perianal adenomas, perineal hernias and benign prostatic hyperplasia).
- • In both male and female cats, neutering also prevents the spread of genetically inherited disease and prevents sexual frustration.
2. Behavioural Benefits Neutering causes a decrease in production of the sex hormones oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone. Although still present, they are markedly reduced in level and this has a knock-on effect on behaviour:
- • In male cats neutering decreases the likelihood of urine spraying and other territorial behaviours, including fighting with other cats. It also reduces the propensity to roam
- • In female cats neutering can reduce an increased interest in tom cats and a propensity towards excessive affection or aggression
When to neuter
Your vet will advise the best time for you to neuter your cat, but it is generally done at around 6 months of age before he/she reaches sexual maturity. However, depending on the country you live in and the recommendation of your vet, it can be done as early as 8 weeks of age.
Neutering a male cat is called castration and involves the removal of both testes. Neutering a female cat is called spaying and involves the removal of both ovaries, either alone or in combination with removal of the uterus.
Although neutering is a significant surgery, it is also considered to be a routine surgery and the risk of complications is low. Your cat will normally be sent home after a successful surgery on the day of the operation and may or may not have visible stitches.
After the Operation
Try to keep your cat indoors for at least 3 days post-surgery to help minimise the risk of infection and to allow you to keep an eye on the surgical site. If you notice any redness or swelling or any unusual discharge around the wound in either male or female cats it’s important to contact your vet immediately.
Male cats don’t generally have any stitches after the surgery and although they may be a little sleepy for the first 24 hours, they tend to bounce back to their normal mischievous ways fairly quickly.
Female cats can take a little longer to recover as the surgery is more complicated. Keeping them relatively quiet for the first few days and preventing them from jumping onto surfaces to allow time for the body tissue to heal is the single most important thing you can do to help them recover well.
Feeding your cat a high quality nutritious diet is also vitally important after surgery, as the body needs nutrients to help it heal effectively. Once your cat has fully recovered it is also important to consider switching from a high calorie kitten diet to a lower calorie maintenance diet, as neutered cats are at increased risk of weight gain. This is linked to a more sedentary lifestyle and caused by a combination of lower energy requirements (including a decrease in sexual activities) and an increased appetite. Both of these changes are orchestrated by the decreased production and secretion of the sex hormones.