When you adopt a puppy or a kitten,
you may receive a great deal of incorrect information about
the effects of neutering and spaying. Sometimes people believe
neutering is unfair to the individual cat. However neutering
does more than prevent your cat from having kittens. It also
keeps your cat healthy.
According to a 1995 survey by
the American Animal Association Hospital, nearly 80 percent
of the cats and dogs in the United States and Canada are spayed
or neutered. What do these people know that you don't?
What is Neutering?
Neutering is routine operation
performed by the veterinarian to remove the cat's sex organs.
This procedure makes your cat unable to reproduce and stops
the production of hormones that are responsible for the cat's
sexual behavior. Unless you plan to breed your cat, deciding
whether to neuter or not is one of the most important decisions
a new cat owner will have to face.
What is done exactly?
The feline neuter is one of the
simplest surgical procedures performed in all of veterinary
medicine. The cat is fasted over night so that anesthesia is
performed on an empty stomach. The procedure for male cats
is called castration and for females, spaying.
Castration is the surgical removal
of the gonads (testicles) in male animals, which removes the
source of sperm and also the source of the male sex hormone,
testosterone. Under a general anaesthetic, male cats have the
fur "plucked" from their scrotum. Two small incisions
are made in the skin of the scrotum and the cat is castrated,
i.e. has both testicles removed.
Spaying is the surgical removal
of the uterus and ovaries from the abdomen. Female cats undergo
the equivalent of a full hysterectomy. An area on the flank
or the stomach is shaved. Both ovaries and the uterus can usually
be removed through a neat little incision.
When to neuter your cat?
In the USA, it is becoming increasingly
common for cats to be neutered at very young ages, sometimes
at the age of eight weeks.
It is best to check with your
veterinarian but usually some vets will recommend that the
procedure be done when the cat is about six months old before
the cat reaches sexual maturity. This may vary. Some cats will
not reach that point until a few months later. It is possible
to neuter when pregnant, however this is very dangerous for
the mother if in late pregnancy.
How long after the operation
will she be herself again?
It usually doesn't take long.
Males are usually back to normal the day after their operation,
while females may take a day or two longer.
The positive side of
Most pet owners are aware that
pets should be neutered, but only some know all the reasons
why neutering is beneficial, particularly in male cats. Let's
do a reality check and discover the benefits of these procedures
for the typical household cat.
- Following puberty, at approximately
6-8 months old, the male cat develops a number of "undesirable" behavioural
changes. He will become territorial and start to mark areas,
often in the house, by spraying urine, which will by now have
developed a particularly strong, lingering odour which is very
difficult to remove. He will start to enlarge his territory
by spraying even further from the house, particularly at night.
It is for this reason that many cats involved in road traffic
accidents are "entire" males.
- Neutering also greatly reduces
the chances of the cat spraying in the home. Besides being
unsanitary, the urine odor and stains are extremely difficult
to remove. So neutering reducing stress for the owners and
increases the cat’s chances of being a loved and wanted
- Neutering will eliminate heat
cycles at females, which usually occur several times a year,
and behaviors associated with heats - kneading, howling and
restlessness. It will reduce the incidence of urine spraying.
The risk of mammary cancer is reduced if a cat is spayed before
its first heat. Also spayed cats cannot develop pyometra, a
serious uterine infection.
- It prevents your cat from getting
pregnant. A neutered cat (male or female) will not produce
- A spayed female is a more attentive
and loving pet, because her energy isn't constantly directed
toward finding a mate. (Cats are in heat nearly all the time
until they become pregnant.) If you spay your cat, you protect
her from some cancers and infections and from sexually transmitted
- Neutered females no longer
have that irresistible attraction to males, who will urinate
in the female's territory to claim ownership of her, fight
other contenders for her affection.
- Neutering makes your cat calmer
and more affectionate. They take more interest in their owners,
may become more people oriented unless the cat was not very
social with people to begin with. According to statistics,
male cats that are neutered tend to live longer than male cats
that are not neutered.
The Negative Side of
- Spaying will result in the
sterilization of your cat, and she will no longer have the
ability to become pregnant. If you wish to breed your cat,
spaying should not be done.
- Some cats may gain weight after
spaying. Unspayed animals typically have a strong mating desire
and can expend a lot of energy seeking a mate and reproducing.
Without this energy burden, your cat may eat the same amount
but not burn off as many calories.