Neutering for male and female cats

Neutering for male and female cats

Neutering (also known as spaying for female cats and castration for male cats) not only prevents unwanted litters, but also has many advantages.

When do cats become sexually mature?

It is important to note that there is no general rule here. The onset of sexual maturity and thus the ability to produce offspring depends on several factors. Firstly, there are differences between male and female cats: In females, sexual maturity is reached slightly earlier – on average at the age of six to nine months. Males, on the other hand, are not sexually mature until they are eight to ten months old. In addition, there are also differences between the breeds: Abyssinian, Siamese and Birman cats are known to mature early and can reach sexual maturity at the age of five months. In long-haired cats, the process often takes much longer, sometimes up to a year.

How can I tell when a cat has reached sexual maturity?

Sexual maturity is noticeable in cats through changes in behaviour. For example, they start to mark their territory. Both female cats and male cats release urine in various places. Female cats show that they are ready to mate by meowing and wailing loudly. Female cats are referred to as being “on heat “. Rolling on the floor and vigorously rubbing themselves up against furniture or people are other signs. If the cat assumes the mating posture – by laying its head flat on the floor and raising its hindquarters – the readiness to mate is at its peak. If you have indoor cats, you must make sure your doors and windows are closed or secured. With cats that are allowed outside, it is not uncommon for them to spend a long time out on the prowl and to return home with scratches caused by fighting over their territory. It is also not uncommon for cats to suddenly lose their appetite and appear restless.

Should cats be neutered?

If you do not wish to breed and you have a cat that is allowed outside, you should have it neutered. In some districts, this is even required by law in order to prevent cats from breeding excessively. Make sure that you get information about the regulations where you live. Even when it is not a legal requirement, neutering – in consultation with your vet – is always advisable as it has many benefits. For example, neutered cats have a significantly higher life expectancy. Thanks to the reduced risk of infections contracted during fights and mating, neutered cats tend to live twice as long those that have not been neutered. In addition, there is the risk of contracting the feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), leukaemia, or feline panleukopenia (often known as feline distemper). Also, the risk of accidents is much higher for unneutered cats, as they roam for longer periods of time and sometimes blindly follow a scent.

 

Neutering has advantages not only for the cats, but also for the owner. Although a litter of kittens is lovely, animal shelters tend to be full and kittens should only be bred if there are enough potential new owners. Especially for cats that are allowed outdoors, neutering should always be considered, as otherwise kittens will probably be born twice a year.

When is the right time for neutering?

As soon as you start to notice any obvious behavioural changes in your young cat, it is time to visit the vet. It is now very likely that your cat is starting to reach sexual maturity. The appointment should, however, be arranged individually with the vet, because there is no such thing as the perfect moment.

Neutering or sterilisation

Interestingly, the rumour still persists that female cats are sterilised and male cats neutered. This is, however, incorrect. These are two different surgical procedures – irrespective of gender. Sterilisation merely involves disconnecting the fallopian tubes or the sperm ducts. There is no change in the cycle and behaviour of the animals. They are simply no longer fertile.
 

In veterinary practices, neutering is usually carried out by removing the ovaries or testes. Although this operation is more complex, it is standard practice. The clear advantage of neutering as opposed to sterilisation is that female cats no longer go into heat – with all the related side effects – and male cats stop marking.

What should you bear in mind after neutering?

Neutering is carried out under general anaesthetic. Ask your vet when you can pick up your cat and what you need to bear in mind when you get home. In the first few hours after the operation, it is important that your cat gets plenty of rest. It may be advisable for your pet to wear a protective collar/cone or bodysuit. As a rule, the vet will want to check the wound two to three days after the operation. After 10 days, the wound will have healed and the stitches will have dissolved or been removed.

Nutrition after neutering

After neutering, male and female cats develop a bigger appetite. Unfortunately, their energy requirements also decrease after the operation as their hormonal balance changes. After neutering, no more sex hormones are produced, so male cats no longer go out looking for a mate, and female cats become calmer. This is why you should check your cat’s weight after neutering and measure out the exact amount of food it is given. If your cat continues to eat the same amount as before, it may put on weight.  

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