Unless you plan to breed from a registered, pedigree cat then you should always have your kitten neutered.
There are many reasons why it is best for you and best for your kitten to have him or her neutered or spayed at an early age.
Having your much-loved pet spayed or neutered can be a worrying time and I have spent many an anxious moment awaiting a phone call from the vets to let me know that my beloved cat has done well after his or her operation.
Despite our worries, neutering and spaying are vital to a cat’s health and well-being and an experienced vet will have carried out many thousands of these operations in their life-time. Read on to find out what is involved in neutering your cat and how the benefits of doing so far outweigh any tiny risks.
What is Spaying and Neutering?
The removal of a cat’s reproductive organs so that they can no longer breed is referred to as neutering in male cats and spaying in female cats.
In most male cats and kittens, the operation is relatively straightforward. A very small cut is made in the cat’s scrotum and the testes are removed. The operation takes place under general anaesthetic and the cat probably won’t even need any stitches. Most kittens are back to their usual self by the next day.
Some male cats have a condition called monorchidism, which basically means that one testicle, and sometimes both testicles (cryptorchidism), have not descended into the scrotum. The testicles are usually somewhere in the cat’s abdomen and a neutering operation is a little more complicated as the testicle needs to be found and then removed. It is not an option just to leave a cryptorchid cat unneutered as they will often still remain fertile and will exhibit behaviour common to an unneutered cat.
Spaying a female cat is a much more invasive operation and involves removing the entire uterus, ovaries and fallopian tubes. The vet will either shave a patch on the side of your cat (flank spay) or the vet will perform the operation on your cat’s tummy (midline spay). In both cases the operation is performed under general anaesthetic. A flank spay is the most popular choice for most pet owners, as it tends to be a little bit cheaper and is less invasive than a midline spay. However, a flank spay will leave your cat with a bald patch.
Will My Cat Fur Grow Back After a Spay Operation?
In most cases the fur will grow back within 2 to 3 months, although it took one of my own cats over 6 months for her fur to come back completely! Cat owners who show their cats may choose a midline spay so that they can continue to show their cat after she has recovered from the operation. Sometimes the fur can grow back a slightly different colour, particularly in breeds such as Siamese and Burmese whose coat colours are determined by temperature.
Whichever type of spay or neuter your cat requires, recovery time is usually quick. A bland food should be slowly introduced on the evening of the operation as your cat may still feel a little bit sick or woozy. After a day or two your cat should be back to their usual self. Most vets will make you an appointment to check your cat over a week later to ensure that everything is healing well.
Why Should I Have my Kitten Spayed or Neutered?
The biggest reason for having your new kitten spayed or neutered is to avoid unwanted litters of kittens. There are already countless, unwanted cats and kittens in the world and by letting your non-pedigree or unregistered cat have just one litter you are contributing to a growing problem. Look at it this way: If 100 people decided to let their cat have just one litter of kittens, and each litter contained 4 or 5 kittens, that would be around 400 to 500 extra cats to find loving homes for.
And even if you know that you can find loving homes for your litter of kittens, consider the shelters that are already full to capacity with unwanted cats.
The Telegraph recently reported that ‘The UK is facing a mounting “cat crisis” as irresponsible owners allow their pets to breed unchecked producing thousands of unwanted kittens’. Remember that for every kitten that your cat gives birth to there are many more in shelters waiting for their new homes.
There are many other benefits to getting your cat spayed or neutered.
Benefits to your cat include:
- Your cat is more likely to live longer
- Your cat is more likely to be healthier and will never have to suffer from pyometra, uterine/ovarian or testicular cancer.
- Your cat will be less likely to get into fights with other neighbourhood cats
- Your cat will not have suffer the frustration resulting from the need to mate
- Your cat is more likely to be calmer and happier
Benefits to you include:
- Your cat will be far less likely to spray urine
- Your cat’s urine will not smell as pungent
- You will not have any unexpected vet’s bills resulting from complications during a cat’s pregnancy
- Your cat will be less likely to stray from home
When is the Best Time to Have my Kitten Spayed or Neutered?
Cats should be neutered before they reach sexual maturity, or between the ages of 4 and 6 months of age. Some breeds of cat are particularly precocious and may even be capable of becoming pregnant at 4 months of age. Neutering before a kitten reaches sexual maturity will ensure that they never produce an unwanted litter of kittens and will prevent them from developing any of the behavioural problems associated with unneutered cats.
Some breeders and veterinarians even advocate early neutering. Regarding early neutering, or neutering at around 14 weeks of age, the GCCF reports that ‘Despite some historical worries about the growth and development of kittens which are neutered early, studies have demonstrated that there are no adverse effects provided that a suitable anaesthetic is used’
Cats of any age can be neutered, even much older cats. Shelters will always ensure that any cats they re-home will be spayed or neutered before they go.
Commonly Asked Questions
Will my kitten’s personality change when he is neutered?
No. Neutering your kitten will not change his personality. Neutering him will make him a much better pet as he will not develop unsociable urine spraying habits. He is also less likely to stray from home and less likely to get into fights with other cats. Your kitten will be much happier if he does not have to worry about finding and fighting for females to mate with.
Will my kitten have to stay at the vets over night?
No. Most kittens will be home within a couple of hours after their operation and most good vets will give you a call to let you know that everything has gone well. Your kitten may be a little wobbly on the evening of their operation but by the next day they will be completely back to normal.
Will I be able to afford to neuter my kitten?
Most vets offer relatively low prices for having your kitten spayed or neutered. Ring around surgeries in your area to enquire about the price. If you really cannot afford to have your cat neutered charities such as ‘The Cats Protection’ may be able to contribute towards the cost of neutering your pet.
Shouldn’t all female cats have at least one litter before they are spayed?
This is an old wives tale that is just not true. Female cats can be spayed as young as 4 months of age and should not have a litter of kittens first. A litter of kittens would just contribute to the over population of cats and would only let your cat know what she is missing out on. She will be a perfectly happy pet and will never ‘wish’ that she could have had kittens.