Due to the current coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, many vet practices will not be neutering cats and kittens. For a number of vets, they’ll be struggling with limited resources as well as having to prioritise emergency appointments. This means access to neutering will be limited and availability will vary from practice to practice.
With kitten season on the horizon, this could result in an estimated 84,000 kittens being born (based on the number of queens Cats Protection neutered last year and if the same number were to go unneutered this year and have two litters). To avoid unwanted pregnancies, and putting extra stress on over-stretched vets, we’re advising the following:
Our designated Neutering phone line is offering advice to owners, as well as neutering vouchers for those in need of financial assistance. These vouchers can be used when vet practices are fully operational again.
Call 03000 12 12 12 (option 2) or find out more about our neutering services. You can find out more in our FAQs below.
My cat isn’t neutered. Can they still go outside?
We’d advise keeping them indoors to avoid the possibility of them having kittens. Any pregnancy in a cat has an associated risk and as access to veterinary care is limited, we’d advise that you avoid them getting pregnant (or getting another cat pregnant).
What do I need to do for my cat if I decide to keep them indoors?
There are a number of things you can do to help your cat adjust to their temporary indoor life. Here are some of our top tips:
Can I breed kittens during the lockdown/current crisis?
We’d advise against breeding cats at this time. Most vets have limited capacity for anything other than emergency treatment and access to routine treatment for mother cats and kittens might not be readily available. In addition, current government advice is to stay at home and travel by a person to view or collect a kitten is not listed as ‘essential travel’.
In very limited circumstances, you may be able to complete sales ‘virtually’ online and transport kittens to purchasers. However, this only applies to kittens that have been born already or for kittens of cats that are already pregnant. Full guidance can be found on the CFSG website.
What should I do if my cat has kittens during the lockdown/current crisis?
If your cat is already pregnant, or becomes pregnant with kittens by accident, we’d advise you to call your vet for advice on what services they can offer at this time. Unfortunately, Cats Protection is only able to take a small number of cats as emergency cases at the moment. We’d recommend you do everything you can to protect against accidental litters at this time. For more information on your cat’s pregnancy and birth, click here.
My vet isn’t neutering at the moment, are there other options?
You may want to phone other local vets in your area, in case they are able to help. Please bear in mind that they are all having to abide by government restrictions during this time.
What is neutering?
Neutering is an operation to prevent female cats from getting pregnant and male cats from making females pregnant. The operation will be performed by your vet, with your cat being under general anaesthetic.
You'll likely be able to drop off and pick up your cat on the same day. They'll recover quickly from the operation, and your vet will advise on the best care.
Cats Protection recommends that kittens are neutered at four months old or younger, although cats can be neutered at any age.
Why is neutering important?
There are thousands of unwanted cats in the UK already, with many of them finding a place in Cats Protection branches and centres up and down the country.
To ensure all cats have a safe and happy home, one of Cats Protection’s key aims is to champion neutering as a way to keep the cat population under control.
Cats are effective breeders and female cats can get pregnant from a very young age so making sure your kitten is neutered or spayed is particularly important.
Of course, as well as preventing unwanted kittens, neutering your cat has plenty of health benefits too.
Why should I neuter my cat?
Neutering your female cat, also referred to as having them ‘spayed’, is the best way to prevent unwanted pregnancies. If your cat does become pregnant, this comes with extra responsibility and worry of having to care for her through her pregnancy, birth and then looking after her kittens. Each cat can produce up to six kittens, and this could potentially result in more unwanted cats in the UK.
As well as avoiding pregnancy, neutering your cat can be good for their overall health. For example:
What is the process for neutering?
You’ll need to book an initial appointment for the operation. Vets may require the cat to be brought for a check before the operation. The cat will normally be admitted between 8am-10am in the morning and able to be picked up that evening.
Effective pain relief means that the process is painless. Many vets operate using an incision on the left side of the cat and will give pain relief injections. Your cat may also come home with some pain relief medication.
Vets usually advise that the cat is kept indoors for a few days after surgery. Your cat may need to wear a lampshade-shaped collar to stop them from chewing their stitches.
What age is best to neuter a cat?
Kitten neutering is proven to be safe and effective and Cats Protection recommends that your cat is neutered at four months of age or younger. It is important that this is done before the cat begins puberty.
There is no evidence to show that kitten neutering causes growth or urinary problems. Experiences show that kittens resume their normal activities and routines after surgery much more quickly than adult cats.
If you're looking for a kitten neutering vet in your area, look at our register.
Will neutering make my cat get fat?
Neutering changes your cat’s hormone levels which can affect how they metabolise energy. Most cats will need slightly less food after they’ve been neutered to account for this. You will therefore need to reduce their daily food intake after they are neutered. Neutering doesn’t make cats fat.
How can I receive financial assistance with neutering costs?
As the UK’s leading feline welfare charity, we're involved in a number of programmes and work with partner charities such as PDSA as well as authorities to promote neutering. Need financial assistance with neutering your cat? We might be able to help through our means-tested neutering scheme. Find out about our campaigns to see if you are eligible, or contact our national neutering team for more information.