Everything You Need to Know About Neutering in Cats
Neutering, also known as castration, is when both testicles are removed to sterilize a male cat. Most veterinarians will recommend getting your male cat neutered, unless you plan on breeding your cat. Neutering can have many benefits for cats, including reducing pet overpopulation.
According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), approximately 6.5 million companion animals enter U.S. animal shelters every year. Unfortunately, approximately 1.5 million shelter animals are euthanized every year. Neutering your pet can help reduce overpopulation in animal shelters.
Plus, there are many more benefits of neutering your cat!
What Are the Benefits of Neutering Cats?
- Reduces or Eliminates Spraying: When unneutered male cats reach sexual maturity, they have a strong urge to spray or urine mark. The ASPCA points out that one function of urine marking is to advertise the male’s reproductive availability and that neutering is a proven treatment for cats who mark as a reproductive advertisement.
According to the Humane Society of the United States, neutering solves 90% of all marking issues, even in cats that have been doing it for a while. It can also minimize other undesirable behaviors such as howling, the urge to roam, and fighting with other males.
- Reduces Future Health Problems: When you neuter your cat, you eliminate testicular diseases as well as perianal tumors and prostate gland problems. According to PetMD, unaltered males are at a higher risk for feline leukemia and feline immunodeficiency virus. This is because they tend to fight and end up with deep bite wounds, which are the leading factor in the transmission of those diseases.
- Increases Their Lifespan: The average lifespan of a neutered cat is longer than those that aren’t neutered. In fact, a study conducted by Banfield Pet Hospitals found that neutered male cats lived 62% longer than unaltered cats.
When Should Cats Be Neutered?
It’s best to neuter cats before they reach sexual maturity. Most cats start puberty between 6 and 10 months of age, so getting them neutered before that is ideal. Many veterinarians will recommend neutering your cat before or around 5 months of age. It’s best to consult your veterinarian to see what they recommend for your pet’s specific situation.
What Will Happen During the Operation?
You will more than likely have to withhold food and water for a period of time before the operation. Your veterinarian will give you guidelines on when to start that. Withholding food is important because it helps prevent your cat from having complications while under anesthesia. The surgery is usually a quick operation, and most cats will go home the same day.
Before surgery, your veterinarian will probably do some blood work to ensure your cat is healthy enough for surgery and can tolerate the anesthesia.
During the operation, your cat will be under general anesthesia. A small incision or two will be made in the scrotum, and then both of the testicles are removed. The incisions are normally very small, so they aren’t usually sealed or sutured. The incisions will close on their own with time.
Are There Any Risks?
Thankfully, complications are not common during a castration operation. Because it is a surgical procedure, there is always a small risk of complications arising. These complications could include:
- Anesthetic complications: There is always a small risk that a cat may have an adverse reaction to the anesthetic; however, this is very rare.
- Post-operative infection: In some cases, an infection may occur around the incision or internally. This is usually controlled with antibiotics.
Caring for Your Cat After Surgery
It’s a good idea to be prepared to care for your cat after surgery. Your veterinarian will be your best source of information when it comes to recommendations for your cat’s specific situation, but here are some general guidelines:
- An Elizabethan collar: This type of collar may be provided by your vet or you can find one at a local pet store. The purpose of the collar is to prevent your cat from licking the surgery site, which could open the wound and lead to an infection.
- The right litter: Most veterinarians will recommend using a specific litter while the incisions are healing. It’s best to avoid clumping, granular, and clay litter until the incisions have healed.
- A quiet area: Your cat should take it easy for a few days, so consider setting up a quiet area or room for him to relax. Make sure he has food, water, and clean bedding.
Does Neutering Affect Weight Gain?
Many pet owners are worried that neutering their cat will cause their pet to gain weight and become fat. According to VCA Hospitals, neutering does decrease a cat’s metabolism and may lead to a more sedentary lifestyle. This can cause your cat to put on weight, but if you are intentional about monitoring their body condition and adjusting their nutrition and lifestyle, you can help prevent weight gain. Regular exercise and a healthy diet are key to helping prevent obesity in pets.
Getting your cat neutered can seem a little overwhelming at first, but the benefits usually outweigh the risks. Talk to your veterinarian today!
The materials and information provided on this website are not intended to replace the medical advice or services of your veterinarian or other pet healthcare professional. Consult your own veterinarian if you have medical questions concerning diagnosis, treatment, therapy, or medical attention.