As a responsible owner, neutering your cat is one of the most important decisions you will make. Because cats become sexually mature while they are still kittens, it is also a decision that should be discussed with your vet as soon as possible.
The benefits of neutering
As well as preventing unwanted pregnancies, neutering also helps reduce the risk of specific diseases and unsociable behaviours.
- Neutering decreases the production of sex hormones, significantly reducing behaviours such as marking and territorial fighting in male cats and excessive affection and aggression in female cats, which significantly enhances lifespan expectations in cats by reducing the risk of getting infectious diseases during fighting and injuries (by car) when wandering for a partner
- Neutering a female cat removes the risk of ovarian and uterine diseases, including cancer, pyometra, polycystic ovaries and metritis – and also decreases the risk of hormone-induced diseases, such as 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)
When to neuter
Your vet will advise the best time for you to neuter your cat, but it is generally done at around six months of age, before sexual maturity is reached. However, depending on the country you live in and the recommendation of your vet, it can be done as early as eight 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 routine and the risk of complications is low. Your cat will normally be sent home on the day of the operation and may or may not have visible stitches.
After the operation
FLUTD is challenging to treat and requires much patience. You may need to think about stress in your cat’s daily life and how to reduce it, and also consult with a feline veterinary specialist or behaviourist should you notice a big change in your cat’s behaviour.
Try to keep your cat indoors for at least three days after the surgery to help minimise the risk of infection. If you notice any redness or swelling or any unusual discharge around the wound, it’s important to contact your vet immediately.
Male cats don’t generally have any stitches after the surgery. 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 will allow time for the body tissue to heal.
A high-quality, nutritious diet is 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 such as PURINA® PRO PLAN® STERILISED, because 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 and an increased appetite. Both of these changes are caused by the decreased production and secretion of the sex hormones.