Many adoption centers require animals to be spayed or neutered before going to their forever home. Did you know, however, that the benefits of neutering a pet extend to the human and the animal? In the world of felines, neutering supports fewer unwanted litters of kittens, but it also provides a space for fewer worries for the owner.
When a cat is neutered or spayed (also known as being fixed), the veterinarian renders the animal sterile. The sterilization process for male cats is called neutering. When females experience the same process, it is called spaying. However, both methods are widely accepted to be referred to as neutering or fixing collectively.
The hard truth is that there simply are not enough homes for the number of cats currently needing to be adopted. One statistic from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (or ASPCA) says that 3.4 million or more cats are taken to shelters each year. When cats are neutered, the overpopulation of felines starts to decrease. Even better, spaying or neutering your pet can help it live a healthier and even longer life. Additionally, there are multiple benefits to spaying or neutering your pet.
Why Should a Cat Be Neutered?
The first reason is that it can prevent diseases. A female cat that is spayed before her first estrous cycle (otherwise known as going into "heat" or being able to conceive for the first time) is significantly less likely to experience cervical cancer. It also completely eliminates her risk for ovarian cancer. Removing the ovaries leads to a reduction of the hormones that can often exacerbate the growth of cancerous tumors. Spaying can also lessen a cat's likelihood of contracting mammary cancer.
Other diseases can occur when cats mate. From feline leukemia to feline AIDS, bites from one infected cat to another can cause diseases. Although these diseases differ from their human versions and cannot be passed from animal to human, it is still a situation that would hope to be avoided. Spaying a cat can reduce their urge to fight over both mates and territories. Consequently, the chances of contracting an incurable disease from another cat lessen.
Another reason to neuter your cat is because it can help reduce feline fights. Like humans, hormones can significantly impact a feline's attitude and actions. Unneutered males are often driven by their hormones to defend their territory and seek out a mate. When two or more unneutered male cats reside in the same household, trouble can quickly rise. Fights become increasingly likely, particularly if there is a female cat in heat nearby. When cats are neutered, their aggressive instincts tend to lower.
The third reason to consider fixing your feline is to reduce their risk of roaming. Female cats in heat often wander to satisfy the hormonal and instinctual longing to find a mate. If she is the only cat in a home, she might try to escape each time that a door is opened. Males, too, are driven by hormones and a mating instinct and will also try to escape. Males and females alike are at risk when outside due to injury potential or contact with other animals. When cats are neutered, they are more likely to remain happy and content in the safety of their home.
One more reason for cats to be spayed or neutered is to maintain the cleanliness of a home. When male cats want to mark or claim their territory, they will spray their urine upon vertical surfaces. Unneutered male cats' urine has a pungent odor that alerts other males to their presence. They do this to claim the territory and let females know that they would like to mate with them. It can be quite literally a messy business when you have an unneutered cat in your household. Neutering a male cat dramatically reduces its urge to spray. If they do spray, it is also a much milder scent. When female cats are in heat, they also pass bodily fluids. Spaying female cats eliminate the same problems.
When Should a Cat Be Neutered?
Although veterinarians will recommend different optimal ages for neutering your cat, most prefer to do so around the feline's age of sexual maturity. Before the surgery, the cat won't feel anything or be aware of what is happening due to anesthetic administration. Male ats receive a small incision on the testicles that are then removed. The incision is closed up using dissolvable sutures or surgical glue. The male cats can usually go home within 24 hours of their surgery, providing there aren't any complications or special concerns.
Female cats have a more involved process. They will receive a larger incision to remove their ovaries and/or their uterus. The larger incision resides in the abdominal cavity, so most veterinarians suggest monitoring the cat at the hospital overnight before going home the next day.
Some felines are fitted with a cone or a paper or plastic sleeve around their neck to keep them from biting or scratching or licking their surgical area while it has time to heal. Although most cats do not need any special medication or aftercare, the veterinarian may want to see them a few days or weeks after the surgery. The majority of cats do not act any differently once they have recovered from surgery. Some may gain weight quicker than before, but that can be monitored with activity and correct nutrition.
In all, the benefits of spaying or neutering your cat are significantly higher than any drawbacks. Although bringing your cat in for surgery can be scary, the benefits are immense and well worth the effort. Considering the increased risks if a cat escapes to the outdoors, fights with other cats or additional animals, and the possibility of unwanted kitten litter, it is wise to talk to your veterinarian about having your cat neutered.