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Cat Neutering

If you get a newly born kitten or just adopt a kitty, 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 her 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.

Positive side of neutering

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. 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 family member.

- 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 unwanted kittens.

- 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 infectious cat diseases.

- 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.

Negative side of neutering

- 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.

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