Cat Spaying and Neutering – the Facts

Then reading the research, came more bad news, half of these cats and dogs are put to sleep in the shelters because of a lack of good homes. Then I had a change of heart, being put to sleep in a shelter surrounded by loving caring staff is a lot better than being left to die on the streets with no food or medical care You may think that if there’s millions of cats in shelters, then there cannot possibly be any left on the streets suffering terrible conditions, think again. Where do these pets come from? I would guess that they come from homes where dogs and cats are allowed to breed indiscriminately. Are we responsible for their breeding? I would say that as pet owners it is our responsibility not to stop them from doing what comes naturally but to try and reduce the amount of cats that suffer terrible ends. There is a simple solution to this, we need to spay / neuter our cats and urge all lovers of cats to do the same.

What are Spaying and Neutering?

As a cat lover, I don’t profess to know much about spaying and neutering, but I hope that by researching this subject I can let myself become more knowledgeable, and by writing about it I can spread the word. Spaying and Neutering cats are probably the most common procedures in veterinary clinics throughout the UK. The cats feel no pain as both are done under a general anesthetic. Neutering a male cat involves making small incisions in the scrotum and removing the testes. No sutures are made and the scrotal sacs are usually covered with antibiotics and left to heal. Spaying a female cat is an abdominal surgery, which requires the removal of the cat’s uterus and ovaries.

The Benefits of Spaying a Female

Spaying your female cat will prevent unwanted litters. That is the fundamental issue, because if your cat gives birth, you are the one faced with the task of finding new homes for the kittens. However, there are other benefits to having your cat spayed, the removal of the ovaries and the uterus will obviously prevent infections or tumors of these parts. Spaying a cat before she goes into her first heat is probably the best time, as this will also greatly decrease the risk of mammary cancer. Even If you receive an unspayed older cat as a pet, having her spayed will still decrease the risk of mammary cancer. If your cat is in heat, she will be doing her best to attract lots of male cats, I wouldn’t advise waiting for the heat cycle to end because if your cat doesn’t mate, she will keep going into heat every few weeks.

The Benefits of Neutering a Male

I think I will not be ‘shot down in flames’ if I state the ‘fairly obvious’ here, the benefits of spaying a male are so significant, that I can confidently say that that an unaltered male cat will not make a good house pet. If you want to keep a male cat as a pet you simply must neuter him. Not only to help reduce the overpopulation of cats but also for the benefit of the cleanliness of your property. An unaltered male is usually called a Tomcat; they have a tendency to spray foul-smelling urine around their territory and neutering a male cat before he reaches sexual maturity, will virtually prevent this behavior. If a tomcat has already started marking out his territory, neutering him is still likely to reduce the habit, if not totally stop it happening at all.

The urine of a neutered cat does not smell as much if it still happens. Tomcats are notorious travelers, as they go in search of female cats they tend to roam away from home for long periods of time. Losing a cat for any length of time is not something you want to experience, but setting aside our hurt and upset, the tomcat could be in terrible danger, stories of being hit by a car, hurt by people and dogs and being poisoned spring to mind. Tomcats also tend to fight over females and their territory, even the strongest cats are prone to get injured, risking the likelihood of an infection. Reading between the lines, I think that I can safely say that it is virtually impossible to keep two or more male cats together.

Now that we have covered some of the advantages of spraying and neutering, I am sure that you are thinking of some questions that you need answering in your head. I don’t profess to be a mind reader. I thought of eight questions that I would want answered myself and found myself researching the answers.

What is the best age for my cat to be spayed/neutered?
The best time seems to be before your cat reaches sexual maturity. There is some evidence to support early spay and neuter between 8 – 16 weeks, but as long as the cat is no older than 5 – 6 months then you should be okay. I would advise consulting a vet to help making a decision.

Will my cat get fat and lazy?
The simple answer is YES – if they eat too much and don’t get enough exercise, I cannot find a connection between spaying and neutering causing weight gain in cats. Your cat is not likely to become lazier or sleepier because of sterilization; a cat’s personality is determined by its genetic make up and external stimulation, not by its hormones.

I want to have a large cat – Will spaying/neutering stop my kitten’s growth?
No, and, actually some studies have indicated that spaying/neutering a cat early actually makes the cats larger, not fat but taller and stronger, apparently.

Will my cat be deprived of manliness/the experience of motherhood?
We sometimes forget that cats don’t think like humans, I would say that our social outlook on gender and gender-specific experiences does not bother them. Are there any risks involved? With any operation, there is an element of risk; even the simplest of procedures can become complicated. However the medical and behavioral advantages of spaying and neutering cats far outweigh the ‘risk factor’. You will be improving the quality of his or her life as well as probably extending the lifespan of the cat. If you’re still having doubts please consult your vet, and please bear in mind that these operations are the most common performed by veterinarians.

How much does it cost?
A good question. I am afraid I cannot give you a set price as I have found the cost varying depending on where you live and which veterinary clinic you go to. All I can say is that vets do recognize the importance of these operations, and many vets do offer significant financial discounts on these operations if financial difficulties are evident or if you’re treating several cats (your own or stray cats). Remember that spaying and neutering cats is a lot cheaper, in the long run, than caring for generations of kittens.

I really love kittens and I’m sure I’ll find good homes for all of them – why can’t I let my cat breed?
Thousands of cats are put to sleep each year in the UK alone and in many countries stray and feral cats are simply poisoned by local authorities. You may love your kittens dearly but the fact is that there are simply not enough good homes in ratio to the number of cats born each year. Finding a good home for a kitten is not as easy as it seems. I wouldn’t classify giving them away from a cardboard box at the back of a supermarket car park as finding a suitable home. You need to make sure that the new owners are willing to make a commitment to care and love a cat for what could be twenty years. It’s a pyramid system, what if people who give their kittens to people who don’t spay / neuter these kittens and these kittens grow up and have kittens / father kittens and so on and so on. This will start to spiral even more out of control. There are thousands of loveable cats and kittens waiting to be adopted in shelters all over the country. If you know anyone who is looking for a cat – point him or her in the right direction rather than the classifieds of your local newspaper.

But I want to breed Cats; Surely I can breed cats and find good homes for the kittens?
Breeding cats can be very complicated and requires professional knowledge about the breed and its genetics. If you are seriously interested in breeding cats, I would advise reading on the subject, visiting cat shows, speaking to other breeders and finding out any technicalities and problems that may occur. If you want to breed cats, surely knowledge and expertise is an important foundation. Some purebred cats are not suitable for breeding programs, do your background information first.

I hope that you find this information of use. Please think about things before you worry about the cost of spaying / neutering, or want to breed kittens. I have certainly enjoyed researching for this, the more you learn, the more you realize that these loveable cute little creatures depend on us for so much, and it’s down to us to give our cats as much attention, love and care as possible.