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Everything you need to know about neutering a male cat

black and white cat at the vet advice
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Your cat will reach his sexual maturity at around six months old. Here’s everything you need to know about neutering a male cat.

By Nick Whittle

Leave your cat unneutered and there will be trouble ahead. Cats that haven’t been castrated make kittens… lots of them. To avoid unplanned pregnancies (and a soured relationship with your neighbours) you should give some serious consideration to having your cat neutered.

It isn’t just the prospect of a growing kindle of kittens that should warm you to the idea of neutering. Neutering a male cat can prevent him from contracting nasty illnesses as well.

What is neutering?

A ‘tom’ cat is a cat that has not been neutered. A cat that has been neutered is sometimes called a ‘gib-cat’. Some owners may see the neutering of their tom, as de-masculinising; somehow making him less than a cat. Such views are neither useful nor founded in any reason. After all, to neuter your cat is not only proven to benefit humans but also to prolong the life of your cat.

In any case the neutering of a tom is far simpler than it is for a queen: spaying the female cat involves an invasive operation to remove both the ovaries and the uterus (although these days the size of the incision required is far smaller than it used to be).

For tom cats the procedure includes the removal of the testicles.

You are usually given the option of a local or general anaesthetic for your cat. However, it is recommended that large and aggressive cats are given the latter to alleviate any unnecessary difficulties of control. An incision is made at the root of the penis closest to the scrotum and the testes are removed through this opening. The cut is then sutured, glued or stapled shut.

Post-operative recovery from neutering

A castration is easy for a cat to recover from. 20 minutes after the operation a feline patient will usually be awake and well enough to walk unaided.

A vet will recommend a course of anti-inflammatory medicines to ease the pain, and they will probably have given your cat a dose of pain-killers as soon as the operation was over.

Why should I neuter my cat?

Neutering a cat has multiple benefits for your pet. For example, your cat will be less likely to contract certain diseases as well as avoid unwanted pregnancies. Other advantages of neutering or spaying a cat include:

Behavioural control. You can often tell an unneutered tom cat; he strays far and wide, marks his territory little and often and with very smelly urine, and he is more vocal than he ought to be.

Overall health. Tom cats get into more fights than gib-cats. Fights between rival toms often result in injury and infection. So too can viral diseases be spread from cat to cat.

Trouble indoors. Tom cats cause a nuisance outdoors but are even more troublesome indoors: they will often urinate on furniture and floors, be aggressive with their owners and come and go as they please.

Population control. To control populations of vermin is a priority of most communities, but so too is the control of cat populations. Areas that are beset by stray cats and fighting cats become undesirable.

When should you neuter your cat?

Both male and female cats become sexually mature at around six months old but you may want to begin discussions with your vet about neutering from when the cat reaches four months.

The age at which a car reaches sexual maturity varies considerably. However, you will be aware of the cat’s transition to sexual maturity because both toms and queens are very vocal and toms tend to forcibly spray urine around their ‘territory’.

Arranging neutering with your vet

To have your cat neutered is not a complicated process. You should first book a consultation with your vet and after this you will be instructed to bring your cat back to the vet closer to the date of the operation for a pre-anaesthetic health check.

On the eve of the operation you will be asked not to feed your cat, but you can water him. In the morning you should not give him food or water. If there are no complications the castration operation takes very little time; it is sometimes completed within two minutes. You will be able to pick up your cat at the end of the day.

How much does it cost to get a cat neutered?

The cost of the neutering operation is determined by the vet’s practice you choose to perform it. In the UK the average cost of tom cat neutering is between £40 and £80. The average cost of neutering a queen is between £50 and £100.

Male cats benefit greatly from being neutered. Castration obviously eliminates the risk of testicular cancer but also prevents a number of behaviours that can make owning a male cat difficult. Neutering also reduced the cat’s urge to defend its territory. There will be no more urine spraying, his urine will not smell as strong and the cat will be more docile and less keen to fight with other cats.

Occasionally, owners have noticed that their cat gains weight following his neutering. This is not a result of either the operation or the lack of testosterone. Your cat will be more docile and easier to handle after neutering; he will not be as keen to roam as he once was and his want to find mates and fight for them will wane. If you ensure your cat receives regular exercise you can stem his weight gain.

Be vigilant of your cat’s health in the days following his op but importantly monitor his health for any major changes in the weeks and months that follow.

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