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Neutering is an operation to prevent a female cat getting pregnant or male cats getting a female pregnant. Our helpful guide is here to give you all the information you need about neutering. We’d always recommend getting your cat neutered.



What is neutering?

Neutering, sometimes called spaying for female cats or castration for males, involves an operation to prevent female cats getting pregnant and male cats from getting females pregnant. We’ve put together a handy video all about neutering your cat:

What is spaying or castrating? Are they the same as neutering?

Neutering is the general term for the operation in all cats and this includes either spaying or castrating. Spaying is the word used to describe a female cat getting neutered, and castrating is the word used to describe a male cat getting neutered.


When should I get my cat or kitten neutered?

Cats can be neutered at any age, but we’d recommend getting your kitten neutered at around four months old. This is because female cats can start having kittens from around this age, so to prevent any unwanted litters it’s important to get them neutered as soon as possible. Remember, cats aren’t selective about who they breed with and will even breed with siblings!

Find out more about cat reproduction

The benefits of neutering your cat

Neutering prevents unwanted litters of kittens, and helps to prevent more cats being born than there are homes available. Cats Protection champions neutering as a way to help keep the cat population under control, and ensure every cat has a safe and happy home.

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.

The benefits of neutering a female cat can include:

  • preventing behaviours associated with being in ‘heat’, which can include calling, spraying, and trying to escape or wandering further than normal
  • reducing the risk of womb infections
  • reducing the risk of tumours and certain cancers, for example mammary cancer (which is over 90% less likely if cats are spayed before six months old)
  • helping your cat to stay healthy. Female cats can have up to 18 kittens a year which is a lot of extra mouths for owners to feed and rehome, and can cause females to lose condition and be more vulnerable to disease

The benefits of neutering a male cat can include:

  • reducing the risk of them roaming far away to find a mate, therefore making it less likely they will get lost or injured in a car accident
  • reducing the risk of them fighting with other males, which in turn can help to prevent them contracting and spreading infectious disease such as feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) and feline leukaemia virus (FeLV)
  • reducing the risk of spraying in the house

What does neutering my cat involve? How long is the operation?

Neutering your cat is a fairly quick operation and your vet will likely ask you to drop your cat off in the morning and collect them later the same day.

Your cat will have a general anaesthetic, so ask your vet about when to feed them before the procedure. It is advisable to keep them indoors the night before, don’t forget to give them a litter tray.

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.

Your vet may recommend microchipping if your cat is not chipped by the time they are neutered. We recommend all cats are chipped.


How long will it take my cat to recover?

Your cat will normally be on their feet within hours of their operation. It’s normal for them to be a little wobbly, tired or even excitable when they come home after being under anaesthetic, so keep an eye on them. By the next day your cat should be eating and feeling much brighter.

Your cat’s wound should completely heal in around 10 days. Make sure you take them for any check-up appointments and that your vet is happy with their healing.


Neutering aftercare

When your cat comes home, there are a few things you can do to help them while they recover, including:

  • create a quiet space for them to rest
  • try to keep them as calm as possible for a few days so that they can start to heal
  • make sure they wear any buster collar or other wound protection your vet advises
  • check your cat’s wound each day for any redness, swelling or discharge – if you are worried, call your vet
  • give them any medication your vet prescribes. Make sure to find out how much your cat needs and when to give it to them, and give your vet a call if you’re unsure
  • keep your cat indoors until your vet says it is ok to let them outside again

How much does neutering a cat cost?

Costs of neutering your cat will vary depending on where you are and your vet practice. Have a chat with your vet to get an accurate cost, or check their website as a lot of practices will often have costs available there.

If you are struggling with the cost of neutering, there may be help available. 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. If you need financial assistance we might be able to help through our means-tested neutering scheme.

Get help with the cost of neutering


Should I let my female cat have a litter before neutering?

There is no benefit to letting your female cat have a litter of kittens before you get her neutered. Because female cats reach sexual maturity so young, it may even be harmful to let them have a litter of kittens, especially while they are still kittens themselves.


Will my cat get fat after neutering?

Once your cat is neutered, they won’t need to eat as much as an unneutered cat to stay a healthy weight. You can simply reduce their portion sizes, or some foods contain fewer calories. Speak to your vet for advice on feeding recommendations following neutering and if you are concerned.

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