Neutering is the act of removing your cat’s reproductive organs to prevent unwanted litters. Traditionally male and female cats have often been neutered at six months of age, but this is after many cats reach sexual maturity and not based on any scientific rationale. For social, health and population control reasons, it is now recommended neutering should routinely take place at around 4 months of age.
Reasons for Neutering
Cat neutering (spaying for females and castration for males) offers a wide range of benefits to not only the cat but also the owner. Neutering reduces the risk of your cat contracting a number of diseases and reduces the number of unwanted kittens born every year. Neutered cats also tend to have greater life expectancies than un-neutered cats.
For female cats, spaying eliminates the possibility of your cat contracting ovarian cancer as well as significantly reducing the risk of it contracting cervical cancer. Spaying also prevents your female cat from going into season. Female cats can go into season 3 or more times a year, each episode lasting up to 3 weeks during which time they can become very unsettled and exhibit symptoms such as constant meowing, soiling the house and a tendency to roam in search of a mate. Having your female cat spayed will eliminate these types of behaviour. Furthermore, when a female goes into a season several times without mating, she may develop problems like diarrhoea, vomiting, depression and even anorexia and stress related symptoms.
For male cats, castration eliminates the possibility of your cat contracting testicular cancer. Castration can also significantly reduce your cat’s desire to mark its territory by spraying as well as reducing the odour of the urine. Male cats that have not been castrated have a much greater tendency to roam further from home and fight with other cats, thus becoming exposed to a much greater risk of infection and are more likely to be involved in road traffic accidents. Castrated males are far less likely to roam or fight and tend to display a greater degree of contentment.
Of course, one of the most important aspect of cat neutering is that it helps to control the number of unwanted kittens born each year that are destined to be euthanased as there are no suitable homes available for them. Animal shelters are often overcome with litters of unwanted kittens when they already have many adult cats requiring loving homes.
The surgical procedure
Preparation for neutering is the same for male and female cats. Your cat should have food withheld from around 10pm the night before it is due for surgery, so it is advisable to keep your cat indoors to prevent it eating elsewhere. You should still ensure that your cat has access to drinking water during this period.
The neutering procedure will require your cat to undergo a general anaesthetic. Once anaesthetised, for male cats 2 small incisions are made and the testicles are removed. For female cats a larger incision is made into the abdomen to remove both uterine horns and ovaries The incision is closed with internal, dissolvable stitches together with tissue glue to close the wound edges. To ensure that your cat has had chance to fully recover from the anaesthetic and surgery, we strongly advise male cats are kept indoors for 48 hours following their procedure and female cats are kept in for 7 to 10 days postoperatively.
Your cat may require a head collar to prevent any licking or nibbling at the operation site. This can be provided on collection of your cat. The operation site should be checked daily for signs of bleeding, seeping or swelling. You should contact the clinic immediately if you have any concerns about your cat.
As with any surgery on your cat, you should make sure that your cat has a quiet place to relax and recuperate and you should ensure that your cat has easy access to drinking water. You may also need to make a litter tray available to your cat until it has recovered sufficiently to be allowed outdoors again.
Neutering will cause changes to your cat’s hormonal balance and metabolism. Your veterinary clinic will be able to recommend a suitable diet for your cat to help minimise any side effects of neutering.