The pros and cons
The number of cats owned as pets in the United Kingdom now exceeds the number of pet dogs and will continue to rise in years to come. Cat owners should consider surgical neutering as part of responsible pet ownership.
Cats become sexually active from five to six months of age. The reproductive cycle of the female is approximately three weeks long during which time she will come into season or come on call for two to four days. It is during this time that she will be attractive to male cats, will look to mate, and will very likely become pregnant. Cats are more sexually active in the spring and the autumn, but the three week cycle continues right through the year.
For behavioural and medical reasons, surgical neutering is recommended.
- Neutering not only stops cats from having kittens but also stops them coming into season. Female cats (queens) can come into season every three weeks in Spring and Autumn, each season lasting two to four days.
- A female in season / on call / on heat may show such behavioural changes as loss of appetite, crying or yowling, rolling, and general restlessness. A female in season looks to get outdoors to seek a mate, may spray urine on doorposts / furniture, and will attract tom cats from a wide area to come and visit.
- Neutering considerably reduces the tendency to develop mammary tumours (breast cancer).
- Neutering prevents a potentially life-threatening condition of the womb called pyometra. This usually occurs in older cats that have not had kittens. The cure is an emergency ovarohysterectomy operation with considerable anaesthetic risks.
Surgical Neutering involves a full ovariohysterectomy, where the whole reproductive tract is removed under general anaesthesia. This is usually performed through a small incision in the flank. Patients are usually allowed home the same day and have their stitches removed after about seven days. It is not recommended to neuter a cat during a season.
- Neutering stops male cats from fathering kittens
- Neutering reduces the tendency for male cats to roam, seeking out a female in season.
- Neutering reduces the tendency for male cats to fight with other males competing for the position of Top Cat in a territory or over females in season. This reduces the risk of bite abscesses and of spread of infections such as Feline Leukaemia Virus (FeLV) or Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV – Feline AIDS).
- Neutering reduces the tendency for Male cats to spray urine. This is a territory marking exercise, the smell is foul, and very difficult to remove. Males will tend to spray at times of stress or conflict – such as the arrival of a new cat in the territory, a female in season, or even arrival or departure of people in the house!
Surgical neutering of male cats involves removal of both testicles (Castration) under general anaesthesia. Patients are returned home the same day and are reviewed only as necessary.
Male and female cats
Neutering may increase the tendency for male and female cats to gain weight. However, in our opinion, this will only occur if the cat is overfed, under exercised, or more usually, both.
At BRAID VETERINARY HOSPITAL we are in favour of all male and female cats, unless intended for breeding, being surgically neutered.