Reasons to neuter a cat at a glance
- Prevents unwanted pregnancies
- Reduction or elimination of certain cancers
- Less risk of infectious disease
- Reduces roaming
- Less territorial fighting
- Reduces spraying behaviour
An entire male cat is known as a tomcat and unless the cat is a purebred who has been purchased specifically to breed with, he should be neutered (desexed) by the time he is six months old to prevent unwanted behaviours, unwanted litters and reduce the risk of disease and trauma.
Neutering involves the removal of the testicles within the scrotum so that he cannot sire kittens. The surgery is only minimally invasive and is performed under anesthetic. Each veterinarian has his or her preferences for what age they will perform a neuter, which can range from 8-10 weeks or 1 kg to 6 months.
A common reason for failure to neuter is that it is unfair to deprive a male of his manhood, but the benefits by far outweigh any reasons he should keep his testicles.
1. Prevents unwanted pregnancies
Almost all animal shelters are at capacity with unwanted cats and dogs, and anybody in animal welfare dreads the onset of kitten season as the weather warms up. Each year, 860,000 kittens and cats are euthanised in the United States, most of them have no underlying health or behavioural issues, there just aren’t enough homes for these animals. The onus is on every pet owner to do the right thing and spay or neuter their pet to prevent adding to the problem.
2. Reduced/eliminated risk of certain cancers
As we know, neutering removes the testicles, which completely eliminates the risk of testicular cancer and reduces the incidence of prostate cancer.
3. Less risk of infectious diseases
Neutering doesn’t completely eliminate the risk of FIV or FeLV but it does reduce the risks as neutered males are less likely to be involved in territorial fighting or mating. Feline immunodeficiency virus and feline leukemia virus. FIV is transmitted via deep bite wounds from an infected cat and FeLV is transmitted during mating, mutual grooming, bites and nasal secretions.
4. Stays closer to home
Roaming cats are at greater risk from cars, dogs and wild animal attacks. Entire males will roam over distances to find an entire female to mate with, which increases their risk of getting lost or injured. Even if the cat is indoors (most breeders keep their entire males in a stud house), he will do everything he can to escape and find a mate. Once he has been neutered, he will stay closer to home, if allowed outside and no longer be preoccupied finding a mate.
5. Less territorial fighting
Tomcats are extremely territorial over their perceived territory and over potential mates. Even neutered cats can fight, but it is much less common in the neutered cat than their entire counterparts.
Territorial fighting runs the risk of infectious disease (above) as well as bite wound abscess, which is an extremely painful condition caused by a deep bite from another cat which introduces bacteria under the skin. Over a few days, a pus-filled pocket develops under the skin which is extremely painful and usually requires surgery to drain and clean the abscess followed by a course of antibiotics.
6. Reduces spraying
Anybody who has lived with an intact male cat (known as a tomcat) will be familiar with the strong smell of tomcat spray. Entire males spray to identify their territory and attract females.
Spraying in cats is one of the most common reasons pet owners surrender their cats to shelters and involves spraying the pungent urine on a vertical surface such as a wall or a door. Any cat can spray, male, female, intact or desexed, however, the incidence is considerably lower in males who have been neutered, especially if it is carried out before the cat reaches sexual maturity.
Frequently asked questions
When should a male cat be neutered?
This depends on your veterinarian’s preference, most vets practise early spay and neuter which can be performed from 8-10 weeks, and unless medically contraindicated, all males should have been neutered by five months.
Does neutering change a cat’s personality?
It can, but typically for the better. An entire male is preoccupied with finding a mate, a neuter is much happier to spend time with his human family.
Do cats mate with their siblings?
Yes, sibling cats will mate and cats will also mate with their offspring/parents. Therefore even siblings should be desexed before they reach sexual maturity to prevent accidental litters. Inbreeding between cats has a higher incidence of serious genetic diseases.
What to expect after neutering a cat?
Most cats can come home the same day after their neuter surgery. The cat may be a little groggy at home, so keep him warm in a quiet room.
The cat will have fasted from the evening before but can be fed after his surgery. Some cats may be off their food for a day or so. Warming food slightly in the microwave or offering highly palatable foods such as cooked chicken breast or tuna can tempt most cats to eat.
An Elizabethan collar may be necessary to prevent the cat from licking the area.
Keep an eye on the surgery site for signs of swelling, redness or oozing and contact your veterinarian.
How long does it take a male to heal from neuter surgery?
It takes between 10-14 days for the area to completely heal after being neutered.
Do male cats get fat after they have been neutered?
Male cats are less active than entire cats because they are not roaming in search of a female, but by monitoring the amount of food the cat eats and initiating play, the male should not gain weight.
What does a male cat look like after being neutered?
Most male cats will look almost the same as they did before. The veterinarian removes the testicles from inside the scrotum but leaves the scrotum. This will shrink over time and is barely noticeable.
If the male was neutered at an older age, he may have developed stud (tomcat) jowls, which are enlarged cheeks that protect the vulnerable neck area from fights. These will shrink after the cat has been neutered.