When Is the Best Time to Neuter a Cat?
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To neuter a cat means to perform a surgical procedure that ensures that it cannot reproduce from that moment on. Neutering directly affects the so-called gonadal steroid hormones, eliminating the main source of testosterone in male cats and estrogen and progesterone in female cats. Neutering a cat prevents unwanted pregnancies, but also influences the cat's behavior by preventing the occurrence of unpleasant behaviors associated with sexual activity. In addition, neutering minimizes the risk of certain diseases.
The following AnimalWised article explains the importance of neutering a cat and the right time to do it, among other important information.
What is the best time to neuter a male cat?
The moment the male cat comes home, regardless of age, the question often arises as to when it should be neutered. The most common procedure in male cats is castration. Castration of a male cat consists in removal of both testicles (orchidectomy). In this way estrus does not take place and consequently the animal cannot reproduce.
It is a routine procedure, but it requires general anesthesia. The cat to be neutered must remain fasting the night before the procedure to minimize the risk of complications during the procedure. Usually, the cat can go home the same day after neutering, because the incision made by the veterinarian in the cat's skin is so small that it does not even need stitches.
Many veterinarians recommend neutering our male cat if it is aggressive or dominant or marks the territory with urine, since not secreting hormones alters their behavior and often calms them down. It also prevents them from being so territorial or escaping to find a sexual partner.
The current recommendation is to perform this procedure before the first heat, which often happens around 5 or 6 months of age. However, there is no exact date when all cats become sexually mature, because the beginning of this fertility period depends on factors such as sunlight exposure. Thus, heat may begin earlier in seasons with more daylight than in periods with shorter days.
Besides age, there are other factors that must be taken into account, such as the cat's environment and habits: does it live with other cats, does it have access to the outdoors? If so, we have to be extremely careful, because when un-neutered female cats are around, they tend to compete with other male cats.
Some veterinarians recommend early neutering (at 2-3 months of age), which does not seem to have any negative effects. However, the procedure is most commonly performed between 4 and 6 months of age.
If our cat is already an adult, you can have him neutered at any time as long as he is healthy.
It is important to know that sexually mature cats can remain fertile for several weeks after surgery. So you need to be careful when living with unsterile cats.
Continue reading here to learn more about the most common side effects, prices, benefits, drawbacks, and procedural steps associated with neutering male cats.
What is the best time to neuter a female cat?
In females, the most common procedure is spaying, in which the ovaries and uterus are removed, although sometimes only the ovaries are removed. This is usually done through a small incision on the left side, but can also be done longitudinally from below. It is advisable to consult with the veterinarian about the procedure.
Spaying is mostly recommended for females with a strong or dominant character, since the estrogens secreted by their genital organs make them more docile and affable.
The best age to spay a female cat is slightly later than a male. Generally between the 7th and 8th month of life. However, this decision varies depending on the country and the veterinarian's preferences, as in some cases females are spayed as early as 3 months of age.
In any case, the procedure should be done as soon as the cat reaches sexual maturity, and some studies suggest that it should be done before the first heat. By having female cats spayed or neutered, we can avoid health problems that may occur in the future. Spaying prevents infections and tumors of the uterus, mammary and ovaries in females.
Also, the female cat must mate with several cats during heat. Otherwise, she could develop behavioral problems and even anorexia nervosa, decay or vomiting. Remember that a female cat can have an average of 12 heat periods per year.
For female cats that have just become mothers, it is also recommended to wait until the kittens are 8 weeks old before spaying them, as this is when weaning occurs. Choosing the right time to neuter our cat is crucial for a good postoperative period.
Neutering a cat can prevent many infectious diseases, facilitate the animal's behavior and prolong its life expectancy. Continue reading this other article if you want to know all the benefits of neutering a cat.
Caring for a cat after the procedure
Once we have determined the ideal age for neutering a cat, it is important to know that the postoperative period is simple for both male and female cats. Usually, the cat can go home the same day of surgery as soon as it wakes up from the anesthesia. At home, we may need to administer antibiotics and pain medication for a few days and, most importantly, make sure the incision heals without incident by cleaning it as recommended by the veterinarian.
If during the cat's recovery after neutering we notice general discomfort, pain in the area, inflammation, redness or suppuration, we should contact the veterinarian immediately.
Continue reading this other article if you'd like to learn more about how to provide your cat with a healing environment after being spayed or neutered.
Does neutering a cat change its character?
There are many popular myths about this procedure in cats. Some people claim that neutering a cat changes their character.
The truth is that neutering only affects the hormones of the reproductive cycle. So, an active and hunting cat will not change their behavior from one day to another. Also, it is important to remember that at the age of six months, when cats change from kittens to adults, their playing hours naturally decrease, which would be the case even without neutering.
Neutering is sometimes associated with weight gain. Although the surgery is not entirely responsible for the cats' weight gain, it can prevent them from wandering in search of a mate. This means they move around less, and they may gain a couple of pounds. To avoid this, it is essential to switch to food that is more suitable for this new stage of life and to provide the cat with an enriched environment in which to exercise.
After neutering, your pet is more prone to urinary tract problems. If you notice any changes in your cat's urinary habits, such as more frequent urination, squatting without urinating, or blood when urinating, talk to your veterinarian.
If your neutered cat is spraying all over the place, it is normal to feel very confused because neutering is supposed to prevent cats from spraying. If this is the case for you, continue reading this other article, where we explore the reasons neutered cats spray and how you can stop or redirect this behavior.
This article is purely informative. AnimalWised does not have the authority to prescribe any veterinary treatment or create a diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian if they are suffering from any condition or pain.
If you want to read similar articles to When Is the Best Time to Neuter a Cat?, we recommend you visit our Prevention category.
- Official College of Veterinarians of Malaga. (2017). Sterilization: From Myth to Reality . Malaga Vetsumit.