We strongly advise that all cats not intended for breeding are neutered. It can prevent serious health problems in later life and unwanted litters.
The life of the mature Tom cat is completely dominated by his search for females and the defence of his territory. When sexually mature he will begin to roam over a large area in his quest for females. This will greatly increase his risk of being involved in a road traffic accident. He will also become more aggressive to other cats resulting in frequent fights and often horrific bite injuries, damaged eyes and abscesses. The frequent fighting greatly increases his chances of contracting infections like F.I.V and Feline Leukaemia. Tom cats mark their territory by spraying urine which has a very strong odour. This spraying is often done in the house, particularly if there is more than one cat in the household.
Castration of the male cat is a very simple, inexpensive operation. The testicles are removed via two small incisions over the scrotum, there are no stitches and ‘lamp-shade’ collars are rarely required. It is carried out under general anaesthesia and is extremely low risk. The surgical incisions only go through the skin so post operative discomfort is minimal and most owners report that their cat acts like ‘nothing has happened’ the following day. Post-operative complications are extremely rare.
The ideal age to castrate cats is 4 months of age. We advise male kittens are confined to the house until after their operation.
Female cats typically reach sexual maturity at around six months of age and can have three litters a year. There is no benefit to the animal in allowing her to have a litter before neutering and there are already large numbers of unwanted cats and kittens looking for homes. A female cat will typically come into season or ‘call’ every three weeks. As the name implies this is often a very noisy affair and can be an unpleasant surprise for unsuspecting owners. The ideal time to neuter female cats is four months of age.
The neutering operation or ‘spaying’ of the female cat is a very routine, low risk procedure which is carried out under general anaesthesia. The uterus and ovaries are removed via a small incision about 1 cm long on the flank. At Longmead Vets we frequently use tissue adhesive instead of skin sutures in female cats because it reduces post operative irritation.
Skin temperature is important in determining hair colour in some breeds of cats (e.g Siamese and other ‘colour points’). This means that when a patch of hair is shaved (e.g for the spay operation) the new hair may grow back a darker colour. However, this is only temporary and as further hair growth occurs, the dark hairs are replaced by normal lighter coloured hairs. We will frequently neuter colour point breeds via an incision in the abdominal mid-line so this darker hair is less obvious during its growth phase.
Perceived disadvantages of neutering cats
The lack of oestrogen and testosterone in neutered cats does affect appetite and the daily calorific requirements of the animal post-operation can change. To maintain the optimum body weight a reduction in food is often required. Royal Canin produce excellent foods designed specifically to meet the nutritional needs of neutered cats.