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Neutering in Cats

Unless you plan to breed from your cat, vets, behaviourists, and animal welfare organisations are all strongly recommend that you have your cat neutered.

The Advantages

There are very sound health reasons for neutering. Cats move around freely, so both queens and tom cats, but especially toms, tend to get into fights. This puts them at risk of picking up nasty or even fatal infections. They also are more likely to be hit by a car. Of the road traffic accident cases we see in our practice, we see about ten cats for every dog. Also, toms tend to start spraying indoors to mark their territory if they are not neutered. That is a pungent smell that does not go away. Neutering a tom once he has started spraying will not always correct this behaviour. We recommend neutering tom cats (castration) at six months of age.

For a female kitten there are similar and some extra concerns. First, there is the problem of unplanned kittens. A queen can come into season as early as 5 months, so we usually recommend neutering female cats (spaying) at 5 and ½ months of age, occasionally earlier if a male and a female are being kept together. Of course giving birth is not without complications. Some can be serious, and there will be the worry and expense of an emergency midnight rush to the vet. Some owners find themselves with a queen that cannot feed its kittens, and then they have to find the time to hand-rear the kittens, which is very hard work indeed. There are no health benefits in allowing a cat to have kittens. Spaying also removes the risk of uterine infections (which may be serious) and may significantly reduce the risk of breast cancer. All of these problems can be reduced or removed by timely neutering.

The Risks

Any anaesthetic or surgical operation does involve a small element of risk, but complications from castration (neutering males) are very rare and almost always minor. Spaying (neutering females) is a bigger operation, and technically more difficult. Complications here are also very rare, but can be more serious. Most vets are very experienced in performing these procedures.

It is our view that the benefits of neutering far outweigh the risks, but we recommend that you discuss all these issues in detail with us to set your mind at rest and help you make the right choice for you and your pet.