The Importance of Neutering and Spaying Your Cat

Neutering your cat can have many benefits for them, regardless of whether they are kept indoors or have outside access. Along with many health benefits, neutering will prevent any unwanted pregnancies and can help reduce undesirable behaviour, so you can have a happy and content relationship with your cat.  

What is neutering?

Neutering is a routine surgical procedure that is performed to prevent male and female cats from being able to reproduce, eliminating the risk of unplanned pregnancies. In addition, there are a number of other reasons why owners decide to neuter their cats that will provide their much loved pets with a greater quality of life.  

The neutering of male cats is often referred to as castration, which is usually a simple procedure that involves removing the testicles. For female cats the neutering procedure, which is often referred to as spaying, is a more invasive operation, where the ovaries (and usually the uterus) are removed. Like all surgical procedures, neutering does have a small risk involved, but the majority of cats will recover quickly and be back to normal in no time. If you are considering having your cat neutered and you want to discuss the neutering procedure in greater detail, then one of our veterinary team will be happy to answer your questions.

What are the advantages of neutering?

There are many reasons why an owner will choose to have their cat neutered including:

●     Preventing unplanned pregnancies

●     Preventing reproductive health issues

●     Preventing the spread of serious feline diseases

●     Reducing cat fights

●     Resolving or preventing certain behavioural issues  

Preventing unplanned pregnancies

Female cats can have multiple litters in a year, which can result in a large number of kittens that owners would need to re-home. This makes preventing unplanned pregnancies one of most common reasons why owners decide to proceed with neutering. Cats become sexually mature at a young age, with female cats coming into season from 4 months of age. This means that, to prevent all pregnancies, both male and female cats should be neutered before they are allowed to go outside.  

Breeding your female cat does not come without a risk to your cat’s health, so, to avoid this risk occurring from an accidental mating, we would advise neutering your cat. This risk is higher for females who become pregnant at a young age, before they are fully grown themselves. In addition, there are large numbers of cats who are in need of homes, so many owners decide not to breed from their cat to avoid contributing to the current cat re-homing crisis. 

Advantages to your cat’s health

Neutering can provide your cat with a number of health benefits, as the removal of the testicles of male cats and the ovaries and uterus of female cats can prevent reproductive diseases, such as ovarian or testicular cancer, occurring. Female cats are also at risk of developing pyometra, an infection of the uterus, that is life threatening and requires surgery to treat. This serious condition can be easily prevented by neutering your female cat. In addition, female cats can also develop mammary tumours, which are often aggressive and difficult to treat, so spaying at an early age will help to reduce the likelihood of your cat developing these tumours.

All unneutered cats can be prone to fighting, especially if competing for a mate. Any resulting bites can put them at risk of transmitting or contracting certain feline diseases, such as feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV, the cause of Feline AIDS) and feline leukaemia virus (FeLV). Fighting itself can also lead to significant injuries that may require veterinary treatment, so owners are often keen to reduce the incidence of fighting, by neutering their cat.  

Behavioural considerations

Both male and female cats may roam to find a mate and, even if they are kept indoors, female cats who are in season will instinctively try to escape. Sometimes, cats can travel great distances to find a mate, which puts them at a greater risk of road traffic accidents. This behaviour can usually be prevented by neutering, as neutered cats will usually stay closer to home.  

Male cats will also commonly spray to mark their territory and the urine of unneutered male cats has an unpleasant smell that owners will not find desirable inside their home. This behaviour can be prevented or reduced by castrating your cat (ideally before puberty) and their urine will either not develop, or will lose, the strong smell, making castrated male cats more pleasant for owners to live with.  

Considerations before neutering

Before we have your cat in to be neutered, one of our vets will give your cat a health check to ensure that they are fit for surgery. There are also a number of considerations that we will discuss with you, so that you can be sure that you are making the best decision for your pet.

●     The age of your cat – neutering surgeries can be performed from the age of 4 to 5 months old and while we may discuss postponing neutering for certain individuals, we can perform early neutering in healthy kittens, especially if owners will find it difficult to keep them inside.

●     The health of your cat – neutering surgery is a routine procedure that our vets perform frequently, making it relatively safe for healthy cats. If your cat has any ongoing health problems then one of our vets will discuss with you how this will affect neutering your cat, so you can make an informed choice.

●     Anaesthetic risk – neutering surgery does require a general anaesthetic, which does have its own small risk. All pets undergoing general anaesthetic will be closely monitored throughout the anaesthetic by our experienced veterinary team to make this procedure as safe as possible for your pet.

●     Recovery – Most male cats who have been castrated will usually recover quickly and be back to normal before you know it. Female cats can recover just as quickly but we will often advise pain relief for a longer period of time and they will need rest while they heal after their operation, as they have had a more invasive procedure. Our veterinary nurses will go through discharge instructions with you when you come to collect your pet.  

If you are thinking of having your cat neutered then speak to us for tailored advice for your pet, as we consider the needs of each individual cat so we can provide the best veterinary care for them. One of our veterinary team will be more than happy to answer any questions you may have about neutering your cat.