Neutering your cat
Why is neutering important?
Neutering or spaying your cat is the best way to help reduce the number of stray cats, many of whom find themselves in shelters.
This routine procedure is the only way to stop your female cat from becoming pregnant unexpectedly with an unwanted litter. It also reduces the risk of them contracting a disease from a male cat while mating as well as preventing infection of the womb, known as pyometra. It is important to know that there is no biological benefit to your cat in having a litter, so we advocate for neutering.
For male cats, neutering can reduce them roaming. This is incredibly important for their safety as cats can find themselves in road traffic accidents and getting into fights while roaming. Reducing this behaviour can also limit the spread of diseases such as Feline Immunodeficiency Virus or Leukaemia Virus. Even for indoor cats, neutering has its benefits. It can reduce the chances of spraying to mark territory, which can leave an extremely strong smell once they are sexually mature.
When should my cat be neutered?
If your cat has come from a rescue centre, they will normally be neutered already as this can be done from a few weeks old. Private breeders or pet parents can neuter from 4 months old or once they weigh 2kg, although some vets neuter earlier. We consider waiting until the cat is this weight as it makes a particular pain killer safer to use. However, it is best to neuter your kitten before they hit puberty as there is less chance of them becoming pregnant and leads to an easier procedure as kittens have less body fat, but you can chat about this with your vet.
Check out this graphic from Cats Protection with some more benefits to neutering your cat. Females could have even more than 18 kittens a year if they have the opportunity!
Female cat spaying vs male cat neutering
When your cat is ready to be neutered or spayed at the vet, they will need to go under general anaesthesia. Once the procedure is complete, you may be able to take your cat home the same day. Do not be alarmed if they need to wear a cone around their head or a body suit to stop them from irritating the wound and stitches, and your vet may advise you to keep your cat indoors while they are recovering, but it will only be required for a brief time.
During the procedure of neutering your male cat, a small cut is made in the scrotum over each testicle. They are tied off and removed, usually without the need for any stitches. Recovery for male cats is usually quick due to the small cuts.
For your female cat, a small cut is made in the lower abdomen so the vet can tie off and remove the uterus and ovaries. They will be operated on the flank, the side or underneath the midline. They are then stitched up, one layer at a time, so you may see some stitches on the skin or just under.
Female cats may need to be checked by the vet a couple of times after the procedure to make sure they are healing properly, whereas male cats may only need a single check. If you have any concerns, talk to your vet.
Addressing your concerns about cat neutering
There is a misconception that neutering can make cats gain weight. While this is not true, neutering an animal will change some of their hormone levels, and therefore they may need less food. This is normal but discuss it with your vet if you are concerned.
According to the PSDA PAW report 2019, 92% of owned cats are neutered. It is a common routine procedure and should be considered by all cat owners.
Where can you get more help?
If you have further questions about neutering your cat, speak to your vet. Some charities are also able to finance the procedure. You can find out more from Cats Protection.