Cat neutering: what you need to know
Neutering is the surgical process of preventing your pet from being able to reproduce. Male cats are castrated, female cats are spayed. If you’re sure you don’t want your cat to reproduce, neutering is highly effective.
The benefits of cat neutering
Aside from preventing pregnancy, neutering your cat can have the following benefits:
- It’s been found to decrease the risk of certain illnesses like FIV and feline leukaemia, this is due to a decrease in behaviour that can spread these diseases, such as fighting
- For female cats, spaying will eliminate any pregnancy or birth-related risks
- Castrated male cats are less likely to roam – and therefore less likely to get hurt, go missing, or become injured in a fight
- It helps to reduce the number of stray cats in the UK each year
When a male cat is castrated, the vet removes both testicles to stop production of the male hormone testosterone. When a female cat is spayed, the vet removes the ovaries and uterus so she can’t get pregnant.
Is it safe?
Like most surgery, neutering involves some discomfort but your cat will be given drugs to control the pain. Most are up and about soon after they’ve had their operation.
Cat neutering is a straightforward procedure and is regularly carried out by your local vet. Both cat castrations and spays are carried out under general anaesthetic. They’re routine procedures and modern techniques are very safe. Your cat will be given drugs to manage any pain, and recovery is usually fast and straightforward.
Your vet can advise the best ways to prepare them for the operation, along with making their recovery as quick and painless as possible.
Some people believe it’s beneficial for female cats to have one litter of kittens before they’re spayed. This is a myth – the risks involved, including the work of looking after a litter of kittens, often outweighs any potential health benefits.
Female cats can be spayed from around 4 months (16 weeks) of age, once they’ve had their first set of vaccinations - although neutering at a very young age is controversial. Female cats reach sexual maturity at about six months of age, so leaving the operation any later can result in an unplanned pregnancy.
Your vet will advise you on the best time to carry out the operation depending on your pet, their age and your circumstances.
And my male cat?
Male cats can also be neutered from around 4-6 months’ old – but again, speak to your vet for advice. Castration is best carried out while your cat is younger rather than as a mature adult because unwanted behaviour is less likely to develop.
Your cat might be at risk of weight gain after being neutered, so it’s a good idea to monitor their diet accordingly after the procedure – there are special diets available for neutered cats.
If they’re less interested in mating, your cat might be less keen to roam, but clearly this is an advantage as mentioned above.
Neutering involves a general anaesthetic, which carries some degree of risk – although, with modern techniques and technology, this risk is very low.
On the whole, most vets believe that the pros of neutering greatly outweigh the cons. If you’re worried about potential side effects, speak to your vet.
The cost of cat castration or cat spaying varies according to a number of factors, including the type of cat you have and the technique involved. Your vet will be happy to advise you and provide an estimate.
Need more advice on cat neutering?
For expert advice on cat castration and cat spaying, contact your local vet. To find your nearest recommended vet or pet clinic, use our Find a Vet page.