Neutering your cat – advantages and disadvantages
It is very common for cats to be neutered in the UK. When castrating male cats, the testicles are removed. When neutering female cats, the uterus, ovaries and fallopian tubes are removed (ovariohysterectomy). Here you can read more about the advantages and disadvantages of a castration, and the important things to know pre and post-op.
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Benefits of neutering
There are many benefits to having your cat neutered. The biggest advantage is that you avoid unwanted kittens. The females no longer show troublesome calling behaviour, whilst males are less likely to scent mark and cry for females. Neutered male cats are less likely to get into fights or roam away from home to the same extent as unneutered males. Castration can also make them feel more relaxed in their home environment as it reduces the stress that results from territory marking and dominance.
Disadvantages of neutering
One of the disadvantages of neutering is that the metabolism can decrease. This may lead to cats becoming overweight more easily. Obesity, in turn, can cause several other problems, such as urinary tract problems, diabetes and osteoarthritis. As a result, after neutering, the amount of food a cat eats should be reduced, or changed to a specially adapted food for neutered or indoor cats.
How does neutering work?
Female cats are often neutered through an incision on the left flank, or, more traditionally, on the midline of the abdomen. Secure ligatures are placed around the blood vessels of the ovaries and cervix, and the uterus is removed. The peritoneum and muscle layers are closed using sutures, which are the strength layers. The final skin layer is often closed with internal sutures or medical glue, as there is nothing for the cat to scratch. The post-op check up is less stressful when there are no sutures or staples to remove, which are alternatives to glue.
Male cats are usually neutered through a very small incision in the skin over each testicle. The cord is tied off and the testicles are removed. The incisions are left to heal by themselves, and usually heal very quickly.
The post-op period
The cat is usually allowed to go home a few hours after being neutered. Female cats often wear a collar or bodysuit so that they do not lick the surgical site. The collar or bodysuit should be used, even if there are no visible stitches, until the incision has fully healed. Visible stitches are removed after 10-14 days.
Male cats rarely need a collar as they are not usually worried by the surgical site on the scrotum. If your cat does start licking itself, then a collar should be worn until the incisions are fully healed.
Cats are given injectable painkillers before the operation. Painkillers are dispensed to take home with your cat, and are given by mouth for a few days.
We recommend keeping your cat indoors and restricting exercise, if possible, for the first 2 weeks after neutering. You can let the cat out once your vet has given you the go ahead, the incisions have healed and any sutures have been removed.
Age for castration
Cats can be neutered from 4 months of age. Traditionally cats used to be neutered around 5-6 months of age before being allowed outside. Further guidance can be found on the International Cat Care website.
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