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Neutering offers benefits to both you and your beloved companion. The benefit of neutering a cat? Fewer unwanted litters and fewer worries for you.
Neutering (or spaying) is the process by which your cat's veterinarian renders your cat sterile. When male cats are sterilised, the process is called neutering. When females receive the same treatment, it's called spaying (nonetheless, you can refer to either procedure as neutering).
The Benefits of Neutering & Spaying
Spaying your female cat before her first oestrous cycle (going into "heat" or being able to breed) greatly reduces risk of cervical cancer and eliminates the risk for ovarian cancer, because removing the ovaries reduces the levels of hormones that encourage the growth of cancerous tumours. Spaying reduces your cat's risk of mammary cancer as well.
Keep in mind that there are other diseases, resulting from natural cat behaviour when they mate. Feline leukaemia and feline AIDS are two diseases spread through infected cats biting other cats, according to the VCA Hospitals (these diseases are different from human AIDS and leukaemia, and cannot be transmitted from cats to people). By reducing your cat's urge to fight over mates and territory, you'll also reduce their chances of contracting these incurable diseases from other cats.
Unneutered male cats are driven by hormones to seek mates and defend their territory against intruders. So, two or more unneutered male cats in the same household can spell trouble. Fights tend to break out, especially if there's a female cat in heat nearby. By neutering your cats, you'll reduce their aggressive instincts.
Reduces Risk of Roaming
When female cats go into heat, both her hormones and instincts are urging her to find a mate. If she's your only cat, she'll try to escape every time you open the door so that she can find one. Remember that males are also driven by hormones and the mating instinct, and will try their best to escape for the same reason. Both males and females are at risk outdoors of being injured e.g. crossing roads. By neutering your cat, you'll reduce this wanderlust and find they're happy to stay put in the safe, comfy spot next to you on the couch.
Male cats spray their urine on vertical surfaces to mark their territory. The pungent odour of an unneutered cat's urine alerts other males that there's another guy nearby who has claimed the area as his turf and it tells females he's waiting for his opportunity to mate with her. An unneutered male cat in your house can be a messy business. Neutering a cat reduces or eliminates the urge to spray, and if they do, the scent should be much more mild.
Female cats also pass bodily fluids when they go into heat. These fluids also contain scents to alert males that a fertile female is nearby. By spaying your female cat, you'll eliminate the same problem.
When It Should Happen
Your vet will recommend the optimal age at which neutering should be done. In general, most vets prefer to neuter a cat around the age of sexual maturity.
What to Expect
The surgical neutering procedure is done in a vet's office under general anaesthesia. Your vet will explain it all to you and give you specific instructions for pre- and post-operative care. Expect to withhold food and water the night before surgery and to bring your cat to the veterinary office by a particular time.
During surgery, your cat will be given an anaesthetic so they won't feel or be aware of what's happening. For male cats, a small incision is made on the testicles, and the testicles are removed. The incision is closed with either dissolvable sutures or surgical glue. Male cats can usually come home with you the same day unless there are complications or special concerns. Female cats have a larger incision to remove the ovaries and/or the uterus. As this is a larger incision in the abdominal cavity, they are usually kept overnight for observation. Your cat can usually go home the next day.
Some vets will fit the cat with a cone or Elizabethan collar, a paper or plastic sleeve that fits around the neck like a funnel. This keeps your pet from scratching, biting, or licking at the surgical site while it's healing. Most cats do not need medication or special after care. If your vet wants to see your cat again after the surgery, be sure to bring them in on time.
Will My Cat Be Different?
Probably not. After neutering, your cat will return to their old, playful self very quickly. Rest assured they’ll still be the same cat you've always known and loved.
Feeding Cats Post-Neutering
Some cats gain weight more rapidly after neutering, so it's important to make sure your is kept active and fed right. Hill's VetEssentials NeuteredCat contains the right blend of nutrients and calories needed to help your cat maintain their optimal weight.
The benefits of neutering a cat far outweigh any drawbacks. Yes, it can be scary to bring your beloved pet in for surgery, but it is well worth it when you consider the higher risks of unwanted kittens, escaping outdoors and getting into trouble with other animals. If you haven't already done so, talk to your vet about having your cat neutered.
Jeanne Grunert is a book author, blogger and freelance writer from Virginia. She cares for six rescued cats and a rescued dog named Shadow on her 17 acre farm in Virginia.