Cat Spaying or Neutering
How Spaying or Neutering Your Cat Can Contribute to Keeping Them Safe and Healthy
Spaying or neutering your cat is a common surgical procedure that ensures your cat will live a safe, comfortable life, while also lessening the aggression and territorial nature that can make them complicated pets at times. It also provides peace of mind that certain medical risks affecting the reproductive organs are not a factor for your cherished cat. At GeniusVets, we believe that pet care information should come from veterinarians and not from Dr. Google, especially with such a serious topic. That’s why we’ve taken cat spaying and neutering FAQs, sent these questions to renowned veterinarians across the U.S., and compiled their replies to get you useful information that you can trust.
While we've sourced all of the spay and neuter information and recommendations below directly from leading veterinarians across the country, please make sure to seek out the advice of your own veterinarian or find a trusted vet near you using the GeniusVets Directory.
Cat neutering is the surgical removal of a male cat’s testicles, preventing him from reproducing.
Cat spaying is the surgical removal of the ovaries and uterus of a female cat, preventing her from reproducing. Another term commonly used by veterinarians for spaying is ovariohysterectomy.
Spaying and neutering cats can sometimes help to improve their behavior, decreasing aggression and their territorial nature that often leads to aggression. In male cats particularly, those who are not neutered can exhibit distressing marking behaviors in the home, such as urinating to mark their territory. Spaying and neutering have also proven to reduce the high-risk behaviors associated with mating, including the transmission of disease between cats and roaming as they seek a partner. It’s an unfortunate reality that many cats are hit by cars, get lost, or find themselves in fights when they roam to find a mating partner.
We recommend that cats are neutered or spayed by six months of age before they begin developing secondary sex characteristics. By this age, they have grown to their full length and height and their bones have fused. While they’ve grown up, they’re just becoming sexually active at this age, and it’s ideal to spay or neuter before their first heat and the desire to mate. Also, male cats neutered before they start spraying will prevent them from re-marking.
What are the medical benefits of spaying and neutering cats, along with conditions that can be avoided?
For female cats, spaying reduces the likelihood of developing mammary tumors and experiencing other reproductive health issues as they age. Issues affecting the reproductive organs can include ovarian tumors and pyometra, a bacterial infection of the uterus. Removal of these organs eliminates those risk factors. In male cats, neutering means they are no longer at risk of testicular cancer and are far less likely to sustain injuries as the result of catfights. Both females and males avoid sexually transmitted diseases by being spayed or neutered.
There are many benefits to getting your pet spayed or neutered. A change in undesirable behavior is perhaps the most welcome result of spaying and neutering.
Some of the undesirable behaviors that spaying or neutering may help are:
- Male cats will no longer have the desire to mark your house
- Male cats will lose much of their desire to fight with other cats
- Female cats’ desire to leave the house to breed is eliminated since they are never experiencing a heat—a female cat in heat can be a very uncomfortable experience for them, causing a shift in behavior each time it happens
- Cats that are spayed and neutered at an optimal age are also less affected by other neighborhood cats that may come around, as they won’t be seen as a threat
A cat in good health will do extremely well with these common surgical procedures. Make sure they are fed a high-quality diet, always stay hydrated, and socialized by the age of six months. Prior to the procedure, your veterinarian will perform a physical examination, including bloodwork to ensure everything is okay.
The day prior to their surgery, food must be restricted after they’ve eaten in the evening, but they can have water the morning of the procedure. Pre-surgical and post-surgical pain medications will be administered to reduce discomfort, and your veterinarian will discuss the best post-surgical care with you to ensure their continued comfort at home. Unlike dogs, cats don’t always tolerate a cone to prevent them from licking, which is why it’s essential to restrict them. Cats undergoing a spay or neuter around six months of age will recover quickly, but it’s critical that they are kept calm and indoors until they are completely healed. Within 10 days, the sutures will come out and they can proceed with their usual playfulness.
The AVMA is also an excellent resource for spaying and neutering. If you have further questions about spaying or neutering your cat, reach out to your veterinarian. If you don't have one yet, we can help you find a local veterinarian!