From around the age of 4 months, kittens reach sexual maturity and are therefore capable of breeding and producing kittens themselves.
Most people do not have the time or desire to breed from their cat and do not wish to add to the overwhelming number of unwanted cats and kittens already looking for homes. Neutering a cat – castration in the male (removal of the testes), and spaying the female (removal of the ovaries and uterus) not only prevents unwanted pregnancies occurring, but also curbs unwanted behavioural patterns associated with sexual maturity and reduces the risk of injury and diseases.
Reasons for neutering female cats
- Population control. It is important to spay a female cat before she can have kittens herself. This happens very quickly depending on breed, time of year born and individual development. The first season usually occurs around six months but can be earlier. Queens can have up to three litters in a year.
- Control of nuisance. Female cats will ‘call’ (come into season and be receptive to the male cat) regularly, about every three weeks during sexually active times of the year if they do not get pregnant. Having female cats in an area will attract males from afar with the associated problems of spraying, fighting and caterwauling.
- Welfare issues. Unwanted kittens may not be cared for and are likely to suffer from various infectious diseases such as cat ‘flu or worse. There are not enough good homes available for them.
- Health issues. Female cats which are not spayed are more likely to suffer from pyometra (infection of the womb) later in life and with mammary tumours. Queens with infectious diseases such as feline aids (FIV) are very likely to pass these on to their kittens.
- Wildlife issues. Cats with kittens will hunt more actively and if they are not being fed will need to catch more wildlife to feed their kittens.
Reasons for neutering male cats
- Control of nuisance. Unneutered male cats are likely to stray over a large area, they get lost, will mark their territory with a very pungent spray and are much more likely to fight and be a nuisance.
- Health issues. Fighting males are much more likely to spread diseases such as FIV and FeLV to other cats. They are also likely to suffer from fight injuries such as abscesses, and because they wander over a large area they are at greater risk of suffering road traffic accidents.
- Pet issues. Unneutered male cats will wander from home and may not return. They may also spray inside the home and may be aggressive to their owners. Therefore it is desirable to neuter kittens early enough to ensure that the above problems are prevented. Most people do not want to live with an unneutered male cat.
Neutering female and male acts is a relatively quick operation with the cats recovering fast. They maybe a little drowsy and tired post operation so if possible it’s good to keep them in the evening following the operation.
You will find as the hormones die down the cat will become a lot more friendly, homely and content, good for the cat and good for you.
Age for neutering
For social, health and population control reasons, Cat Call recommends spaying and neutering takes place at around 17 weeks of age.