Neutering Your Male Cat
Most pet owners elect to neuter, or castrate, their male cats. However, many people don’t know all the reasons why neutering is beneficial to their pet. In addition, some owners don’t have a good feel for the actual surgical procedure that will be performed on their cat when it is neutered. There is some confusion over the meaning of the terms “castration,” “spaying” and “neutering.” Technically, “neutering” is defined as the de-sexing of a male or a female animal, although it is usually used to describe the de-sexing of male animals. “Castration” refers to the removal or destruction of the gonads and is most commonly used to describe removal of a male’s testicles, which is medically referred to as “orchiectomy.” “Spaying,” also called ovariohysterectomy, is the surgical removal of the female uterus and ovaries.
Benefits of Neutering Male Cats
Male companion cats are castrated for a number of reasons. Intact male cats tend to get into fights with one another in order to defend their territory and maximize their opportunities to mate with females when they come into heat. Cat fights can lead to serious scratch and bite wounds, which often become infected and turn into nasty pus-filled abscesses. Castration is reportedly about 80 - 90% effective in reducing aggression and preventing fights among male cats. Neutered cats lose their strong territorial instincts, which reduces their marking behavior and makes them more loving, reliable pets. Unneutered cats tend to roam great distances in search of females to breed, returning home only to eat and sleep. Roaming increases a male cat’s chances of being hit by a car or fighting with other animals. Castration greatly reduces a cat’s risk of roaming. Neutering also helps prevent androgen-related diseases, such as perianal adenomas, perineal hernias and prostate cancer.
Neutering has benefits for reasons other than the cat’s health. Intact males mark their territory by spraying their strong-smelling urine on objects such as draperies, furniture, carpeting and walls. Apart from being unsanitary, the urine stains and odor are extremely difficult to remove from a home. Neutering a male cat almost always stops their spraying behavior. Intact males tend to be poor self-groomers, which causes them to develop hair mats and become rather scruffy-looking. On the other hand, neutered males generally pay more attention to their personal hygiene.
Neutering does not make male cats fat and lazy, nor does it change their personalities. Neutered cats don’t hunt or play any less than unneutered cats; they just don’t spray urine in the house or wander off in an endless search for females. Contrary to previously touted theories, castration is no longer thought to be a significant contributing factor in urinary tract problems in male cats, such as Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD). Male feline urinary tract problems seem to be caused by a combination of factors, which are still the subject of intensive medical research.
Finally, there are some very valid environmental and humane reasons for neutering male cats. Tomcats that are allowed to mate at will contribute to the existing and rapidly rising pet over-population situation in North America and elsewhere. Unwanted cats overburden humane societies and animal shelters, which may ultimately need to euthanize those animals if no good homes for them can be found. The actual process of castrating a male cat is fairly simple. There are several different ways to neuter a cat; your veterinarian is the best person to consult about the surgical options.