Neutering frequently asked questions

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Neutering is an important part of Cats Protection’s three primary objectives, aiming to reduce the number of unwanted cats in the UK. Take a look at some of our frequently asked questions as we aim to dispel some of the myths surrounding neutering.

What is neutering?

Neutering is a surgical procedure carried out under anaesthetic. In a male cat, both testes are removed from small incisions made in the scrotum. In females, the uterus and ovaries are removed via an incision either on the left side or underneath.

When can a female cat start reproducing?

Puberty usually occurs at around five to eight months in cats, although it can happen as early as four months depending on the breed of cat. We recommend neutering both male and female cats from an early age. However, it is important to note that the vet responsible for your cat will specify when they are prepared to carry out the neutering operation - usually at around four months. Cats Protection’s current policy is to neuter pet cats from four months and ferals from weaning age.

Can you tell me about kitten neutering?

Kitten neutering is proven to be safe and effective and avoids many of the potential complications that can be had later in life.

There is no evidence to show that it inhibits growth or causes urinary problems, with experiences showing 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, take a look at our register.

How can I tell if my kitten is male or female?

To tell if your kitten is male or female, you will need to lift the tail and look at the back end. Both sexes will have two holes but on a female the holes will be fairly close together, whereas on a male there will be a space where the testicles will develop.

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 pre-anaesthetic check before the day of the operation. The cat will normally be admitted between 8am-10am in the morning and able to be picked up that evening and will need to have been kept indoors without food for some of the night before. Your vet will advise.

WIll the neutering process hurt my cat?

Modern anaesthetics and pain relief mean that the process is really painless these days. Many vets also operate using a tiny incision on the left side of the cat, reducing pain in comparison to the equivalent procedure in dogs or humans. Vets will also give the cats pain relief injections covering the period after surgery. If you are unsure, please speak with your vet.

What aftercare will the cat need?

Vets usually advise that the cat is kept indoors for a few days after surgery and may need to wear a buster coller, a lampshade shape collar to stop it from chewing its stitches.

Stitches might need removing after seven to ten days, or may be dissolvable. In the longer term, cats have a much lower energy requirement and as a result will need less food.

How will my cat benefit?

The cat will be less likely to wander, stray, call (if female), spray (if male). The chance of contracting some infectious cat diseases will be reduced, as will the likelihood of developing mammary tumours (breast cancers), pyometra (life threatening womb infections), testicular cancer, and many other illnesses. Male cats in particular will improve in physical body condition and their urine will smell less pungent!

Will the cat get fat?

Neutered cats need less food after surgery, so you will need to reduce their daily food intake after they are neutered. Neutering in itself doesn’t make cats fat.

I or someone else I know has a lot of cats we need help with neutering. Can CP help?

CP can provide help with neutering cats in situations where there are many cats in a household. We take a non-judgemental approach, recognising that in these cases fast action is needed. To achieve success we are reliant on owners cooperating with us throughout the process.
We can sometimes take a third party referral, but can only act with the consent of an owner. We are not a law enforcing body nor do we have any legal powers, so can only act with an owner’s consent and collaboration.
Help is available through our branches, adoption centres and Helpline. Please contact 03000 12 12 12 for more information.

I need help with a feral colony. Can CP help with neutering?

Feral cats, or those born wild, are equally protected in law as domestic cats and are more susceptible to disease. Simply removing feral cats isn't a long-term solution - a new colony will often move in.

The best option is to neuter all of the feral cats within as short a time frame as possible, reducing the size of the colony and therefore keeping vermin levels down. Cats Protection may be able to help towards the cost of neutering a feral colony, provided the cats are returned to their original site.

While Cats Protection can assist with neutering costs, this can only be used for this purpose and cannot be used for other veterinary treatment or euthanasia. Your application needs to be made in advance of neutering taking place - our local branches may be able to assist with costs and pratical assistance, dependent on resource.

If you'd like more information on feral neutering, please phone our helpline on 03000 12 12 12, choosing option 2 (lines open from 9.30am-1pm).

What behavioural signs does an unneutered tom display?

Unneutered toms tend to be larger and generally more confident than neutered males. They tend to maintain a large territory area, as they will cover a large area looking for females that are coming into season. Because it is so important for toms to maintain a large territory to reproduce, they are more likely to fight with other cats and leave urine spray marks inside or outside.