Desexing or Neutering your Cat
There are many reasons why all cats should be desexed. Desexing is for your cat’s well being and it is also good for our society and environment.
Neutering, or castration, offers a number of advantages, especially if performed at an early age (4-9 months). Following puberty, at approximately 8-9 months old, the male cat often develops a number of undesirable behavioural changes. He will become territorial and start to mark areas, even inside the house, by spraying urine, which will have a particularly strong and difficult to remove odour. He will start to enlarge his territory by straying ever farther from the house, particularly at night. It is for this reason that many cats hit by cars are non-neutered males. By increasing his territory he will come into contact with other cats and fight for dominance. Inflicted fight wounds can result in severe infections and abscesses. Since diseases such as FIV (less frequently FeLV), which can cause AIDS-like syndromes and cancers in cats, are spread through bites, these cats are most commonly affected by such incurable diseases. Finally, but not least, neutering prevents unwanted litters and the needless deaths of kittens and cats.
The longer a tomcat sprays and fights, the less likely neutering will stop it.
Neutering, or speying, in female cats also offers several advantages. Most obviously, it will prevent unplanned litters. Once a cat reaches puberty (usually around 7 months), she will regularly be on heat for extended periods for approximately one week every two to three weeks until she is mated. During “heat” she may display unsociable behaviour such as loud and persistent crying and frequent rubbing and rolling on the floor. Such behaviour and her scent will attract tomcats from miles around. This will be eliminated by speying. Finally, speying will remove the risk of uterine infection and cancer and may reduce the risk of breast cancer.
There is no medical reason for allowing your cat to have a litter before she is neutered.
When should I have my cat neutered?
It is best to operate before puberty. In most cases we will perform the surgery at 4 to 6 months of age but it can be done as young as 2 to 3 months of age without any negative effect on your cat. Cats can be safely neutered at any age however the older the cat the more likely behavioural problems will remain and this is particularly true for males.
What does the operation involve?
Both male and female cats will be given a general anaesthetic. You will need to withhold food overnight and keep your cat confined indoors prior to surgery. Your pet should have free access to water during the pre-operative fasting period. See our leaflet on preparing your pet for surgery.
In male cats, both of the testicles are removed through a small incision in the scrotum.
In female cats, the operation is performed through a small incision made in the midline of the abdomen. Both ovaries are removed along with the uterus. Normally, skin stitches are used that will be removed 10 days after the surgery, unless intra-dermal sutures have been used.
Are there any surgical complications?
Complications are extremely rare in our hands.
One potential danger arises from the cat not being fasted properly prior to anaesthesia. It is essential that all instructions be strictly followed.
In addition, any signs of illness should be reported to your veterinarian prior to an operation.
Anaesthetic complications are rare but, as in human medicine, they are possible.
Post-operative infection or wound reactions are rarely seen. If it does occur it is generally associated with the skin incision and is more likely to be seen if a cat chews at the sutures or is excessively active post-surgery.