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Should I Neuter My Cat?

03 May 2022
Should I Neuter My Cat?

From around the age of 4 months, kittens reach sexual maturity and are therefore capable of breeding and producing kittens themselves. Neutering a cat not only prevents unwanted pregnancies, but also curbs unwanted behavioural patterns associated with sexual maturity and reduces the risk of certain diseases. It is now recommended that neutering should routinely take place at around 4 months of age.

Reasons for neutering your female cat:

In the past, it has been suggested that all female cats should be allowed to have one litter of kittens. However, this is totally unnecessary and of no benefit whatsoever to the cat. It is preferable to have a female spayed before she reaches sexual maturity. Female cats will ‘call’ (come into season and be receptive to the male cat) regularly, about every three weeks during sexually active times of the year if they do not get pregnant.

Spaying the female (removal of the ovaries and uterus) is the only way to stop this. Having entire female cats in an area will attract entire males with the attendant problems of spraying, fighting, and caterwauling. Female cats that are not neutered are more likely to suffer from pyometra (infection of the womb) and mammary tumours later in life. Queens with infectious diseases may pass these on to their kittens, for example, feline immunodeficiency virus (feline ‘AIDS’ or FIV). Pregnancy and birth are also not without risk.

Reasons for neutering your male cat:

Male cats will mark their territory with a very pungent spray. Castration (removal of the testes) will stop this pungent smell and stop some territorial marking, however, some marking can be behavioural and will also need support from a cat behaviourist. Unneutered male cats are likely to stray over a large area which increases the risk of road accidents. Fighting males are also much more likely to spread diseases such as FIV and feline leukaemia virus (FeLV) to other cats and are likely to suffer from fight injuries such as abscesses too. 

The operation:

The spaying operation involves a general anaesthetic and surgical removal of the ovaries and uterus through an incision made on the flank or belly of the cat. The fur at the site of the incision will have to be shaved before surgery and your vet will ask you to withhold food from the evening prior to the anaesthetic.

Usually, your kitten will be able to return home the same day. Castrating a male is equally as important as spaying a female to prevent unwanted pregnancies. Castration involves removing both testes under general anaesthetic through a small incision into the scrotum. As with the spay operation, withholding food from the previous evening will be required to minimise potential anaesthetic complications, and the kitten will go home the same day.

Usually, skin incisions for castration are so small that sutures are not required. Cats usually recover from the neutering operation remarkably quickly. They may be a little drowsy for a few hours, but by the next day they are usually very lively again.

It’s sensible to try to keep your kitten fairly quiet for a day or two for castrates and 10 days for spays, to allow the internal wounds some time to heal and to prevent licking or scratching at the skin wound, a special collar will need to be kept on your cat to prevent any damage being done to the wound. If your kitten seems unusually quiet or dull you should contact your vet.

Things to consider before neutering:

Any general anaesthetic or surgical procedures have their own risks, but these risks are greatly reduced in a young and healthy cat. Your vet will discuss risks with you and give your cat a full health check before the procedure. In Siamese cats and similar breeds, the skin temperature is important in determining the hair colour. This means that when a patch of hair is shaved the new hair may grow back a darker colour.

However, this is only temporary and, as further hair growth occurs, the dark hairs are replaced by normal lighter coloured hairs. Once a cat has been neutered, there is a stronger tendency for weight gain. The amount of food provided may need adjustment if your cat starts to put on too much weight. Cats Protection champions neutering as the only effective way to reduce the number of unwanted cats in the UK. We help neuter around 150,000 cats and kittens, including around 20,000 feral cats, every year.

If you need financial assistance for neutering your cat, Cats Protection may be able to help through our means-tested neutering scheme. For further information or to check if you are eligible, please email neutering@ reading.cats.org.uk or call our helpline 01189 403005.