Have you recently brought home a kitten? You might be wondering if you should get your kitten fixed. Our Baltimore vets explain the benefits of spaying or neutering your cat, including preventing unwanted litters and curbing many unwanted behaviors.
Should you get your cat fixed?
About 3.2 million cats arrive at US animal shelters annually, according to the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals).
Spaying or neutering your cat is the absolute best way to help reduce the number of unwanted cats in the Baltimore area.
That said, the benefits of spaying and neutering your pet don't stop at controlling the population. Having your kitten fixed can help to curb many undesirable cat behaviors and help to reduce the risk of your cat developing numerous serious health issues.
What is the difference between spaying and neutering?
When we discuss getting a companion animal 'fixed', we are using a blanket term that refers to both the spaying of femal animals and the neutering of male animals.
Spaying Female Cats
When we spay a cat, the uterus and ovaries, or occasionally just the ovaries, of the female cat are surgically removed.
After the spaying procedure has been done, she will not be able to have kittens.
Neutering Male Cats
Neutering (castration) involves removing the male cat's testicles.
When your male cat is neutered, he will be unable to father kittens.
Benefits of Spaying Your Female Cat
Your tiny little kitten may actually be mature enough to have kittens of her own before she is even six months old. By spaying your female cat before she is mature enough to have kittens, you help to reduce the population of unwanted cats in your neighborhood.
Not only that, female cats can have as many as four litters a year. When we consider that the average litter can range in size from two kittens (from a young mother) to as many as ten kittens, that is a staggering number of unwanted cats.
Spaying your kitten before she has her first heat can help to reduce her risk of pyometra (infection of the womb) as well as mammary tumors. It's also important to note that female cats carrying infectious diseases can pass serious conditions on to their kittens who go on to spread the disease even further. Pregnancy and the birth process can be risky for young cats, and costly to their owners.
It is estimated that cats in the USA kill between 1.4 billion and 3.7 billion birds each year. Keeping the numbers of homeless cats to a minimum can help to save the lives of countless birds and other wildlife.
Deter Nuisance Behaviors
Female cats who are not spayed will go into heat frequently throughout the year, attracting male cats from across the neighborhood to your home and garden. Unneutered male cats prowling around your property, looking for your female, can be problematic since these males have a tendency to spray, fight and caterwaul. Spaying your female cat can help to keep male cats out of your backyard.
Benefits of Neutering Your Male Cat
While male cats don't actually have kittens themselves, one unneutered male cat in your neighborhood can make many female cats pregnant. That's why neutering male cats is as important as spaying females when it comes to population control!
Neutering your male cat may help slow the spread of serious cat diseases such as Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) and Feline leukemia virus (FeLV) that are often spread between cats during fights. Neutering can help to reduce cat aggression and may mean fewer injuries from fighting. Neutered males also tend to stay closer to home which helps to reduce their risk of being injured by vehicles.
Deter Undesirable Behaviors
Unneutered male cats typically spray inside the home more than neutered males and may be aggressive towards their owners. Having your male kitten neutered while young can help to prevent these behaviors from starting. Also, male cats who are not neutered, frequently roam over large areas in search of unspayed females to mate with. These males will spray to mark their territory and often fight with other male cats which can be bothersome, noisy, and smelly.
What are the health effects of spaying or neutering a cat?
Of course, while spaying or neutering procedures are routine and considered safe, risk cannot be totally eliminated from every surgical or medical procedure. For example, cats who have been spayed or neutered do tend to gain weight if their diets are not adjusted accordingly. Neutered male cats are also at increased risk for developing urinary blockages.
The benefits of neutering or spaying almost always outweigh the risks. However, you should always ask your vet which choices are best for your pet.
When should you have your cat fixed?
Each pet is unique and your vet will be able to offer advice on when you should have your cat spayed or neutered. However, we typically recommend spaying or neutering kittens at around five to six months old. Adult cats can also be spayed or neutered.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.