Cat NeuteringCat Care > Cat Neutering
As mentioned earlier, the vast majority of pet cats in Britain are 'mongrels' and there is a considerable problem posed by a large number of unwanted, stray or feral animals. It is a part of responsible ownership, therefore, to have a cat neutered (castration in the male and spaying in the female), since it is very difficult to prevent mating and breeding. Some people feel un-easy about having a pet neutered and subjecting it to an operation, so it is worthwhile to outline the advantages, to the cat as well as to its owner.
An intact male cat, or torn, will roam widely in search of females with which to mate and will fight with rival males for the privilege of doing so. A torn cat can receive nasty injuries in fights, as bites and wounds easily become infected and abscesses can develop. It is not unusual for a torn cat to be absent from home for days on end and to return home thin, bedraggled, hurt and hungry, having caused a great deal of worry for his owners.
Also, since a torn roams widely, it is much more likely to be killed or injured in a traffic accident. The lifestyle of a torn cat is stressful to the animal, and studies have shown that life expectancy is reduced compared to that of a castrated male. From an owner's point of view, a torn cat makes a much less agreeable pet, tending to be more aggressive, less affectionate and becoming associated with an unpleasant odor. The latter is related to the other major antisocial habit of a torn cat, that of spraying pungent urine to mark its territory, which includes the interior of the home.
Neutering is usually carried out before a kitten reaches puberty (around the age of seven to nine months) but after the testicles have entered the scrotum. It is normally a simple, untraumatic operation in the male, carried out under a general anaesthetic, and the cat quickly returns to normal within the space of a few hours. Castration usually prevents the development of the antisocial habits of a torn cat, particularly urine spraying and roaming. It is also highly effective in reducing this behavior in older adult cats, although it may persist with individuals in whom sexual behavior has become ingrained.
A female cat reaches puberty around the age of six or seven months, marked by the first period of oestrus, or calling, when .he animal is sexually receptive and willing to mate. Marked behavioral changes occur, the most significant one being that the cat develops a raucous loud 'call' to summon male cats in the neighborhood. The cat is often restless and determined to get outside in order to be mated. Usually, neighboring torn cats will gather in the garden or even on the doorstep of a home containing a calling female. Oestrus periods vary in length and are difficult to predict with any degree of accuracy.
It is therefore very difficult to prevent a mating with an intact female cat. Even if their cat is normally kept indoors, owners have to be extremely vigilant in making sure that their pet does not slip outside unnoticed, and this is difficult to achieve. In order to ensure that a female cat will not become pregnant at all, she should be neutered or spayed before the age of six months. This is a straightforward abdominal operation carried out under a general anaesthetic and poses a minimal risk to the health of the cat.
Caring for the cat after the operation is very straightforward, and most animals are more or less back to normal by the following day. The female cat usually has a few stitches, which are removed seven to ten days later by the veterinary surgeon. Once again, it is worth remembering that producing endless litters of kittens, which is the fate that awaits most unneutered females, is stressful and takes its toll upon the health of the cat. Studies show that, on average, spayed female cats outlive those that habitually produce litters of kittens by two to three years.