The most normal procedure is to castrate the male and sterilised the female. There can be various reasons behind sterilisation and castration of cats. It is convenient to not have to have a cat in maturity, and you don't have to remember to give the cat the birth control pill. Last, but not least, you don't have to deal with the side effects that comes with the pill and the increased incidence mammary gland cancer.
Why it is important
- Health reasons: it reduces hormones that can protect your female cat from diseases, such as womb infections and cancer. An uncastrated male cat have a high risk of serious infectious diseases such as feline immunodeficiency virus (feline 'AIDS') and feline leukemia virus.
- Unwanted pregnancy: cats can produce 12 kittens within a year. The year after these 14 cats could produce 84 kittens. Within 10 years this could end in over 89 million cats. Of course, this doesn't happen in reality, but it illustrates what a tremendous procreative power that cats have. Sterilisation will reduce and prevent the number of homeless cats. This is especially important when it comes to street cats and street dogs, because this could become a huge problem. They will not be cared for and will most likely suffer from diseases like cat flu and aggressive viruses.
- Control of nuisance: if the cat is not going to be used in breeding, there may be good reasons to neuter because the cat won't be spraying urine and “moaning” after the opposite sex, which can be quite unpleasant. A neutered male does not often fight, doesn't roam, doesn't go far away from their home and releases the stress levels that come with marking their territory and dominance.
How is it done?
The cat will be put under general anesthesia and the operation area will be shaved, and then washed and disinfected. Area of operations are covered sterile to avoid infections. For the female cat, the sterilisation is done by a cut in their belly where the ovaries and uterus (womb) are being removed. For the male cat they cut into the scrotum to take out the testicles. The cat will be able to return to home the same day as surgery is performed. The cat should not be left alone at home after the day of surgery, but can normally eat when it comes home. The skin sutures will normally be removed after 7-10 days. If the cat starts licking the skin sutures, it should wear a collar or a body to prevent this so your cat doesn't make any damage to the wound.
When should it be done?
Cats normally get sterilised when they are about 6 months old, but it could be done as early as 4 months of age. For female cats it's recommended that she is spayed before she reaches sexual maturity. Earlier it was said that the cat should have at least one litter of kittens, but this is unnecessary.
What are the risks?
The disadvantage of neutering is that the cats metabolism will be lower, and they tend to put on weight. An overweight cat has again a greater risk of developing diabetes, urinary tract infections and crystals in the urine, as well as other diseases associated with being overweight. Therefore, it is important to start feeding the cat with a lining especially for castrated cats after the procedure, containing lower calories than usual food and maintain the urinary tract. There are several different food of this type on the market. It is also important to keep the cat in activity daily if it is a little lazy.
In countries like Turkey, Greece and Romania there are several volunteer organisations who is working for giving street cats a better life by taking them to the veterinary for spaying and castration. After the neutering is done the cats either go to a shelter for rest, or they are being released back to the street and their surroundings. The risk for street cats after an operation is to be put back to the street, most often without any protection of the wound, and this can cause infection. To be able do to this work, they are counting on donations from local people or people around the world.