Neutering a male cat is a good way to help your young male feline become a loving, well-adapted household animal companion. The main reason to neuter a male cat is to reduce the objectionable behaviors like spraying, mounting objects and as reduce the likelihood of roaming in search of a mate.
Neutering involves removing the testicles, ending the male cat’s ability to reproduce and his production of the male-associated hormone testosterone (and the hormone-driven behaviors that accompany this).
Roaming: More than 90 percent of cats have reduced behavior with neutering. Approximately 60 percent reduce this behavior right away.
Fighting: More than 90 percent will reduce this behavior with neutering Approximately 60 percent reduce this behavior right away.
Urine marking: More than 90 percent will reduce this behavior with neutering. Approximately 80 percent reduce this behavior right away.
Other benefits of neutering include a huge reduction in cat urine odor, reduced incidence of feline asthma and of gingivitis (gum inflammation). The reduction in fighting and roaming helps an outdoor male cat reduce his risk of FIV infection, bite wounds and associated abscesses not to mention other things that happen when male cats roam: automobile-related trauma, dog/coyote-related injury and all the other outdoor hazards that result from traveling away from home.
A common shelter practice has been to neuter cats at a very young age prior to adoption or to adopt out a young male kitten with his new owner paying a neuter deposit, which is then refunded when the kitten is neutered at the traditional age of five to six months.
Given that studies have found that approximately 70 percent of feline litters are unplanned and there is presently an enormous feline overpopulation problem, the importance of neutering cannot be overemphasized.
Early neutering allows for kittens to be neutered prior to adoption thus preventing these kittens from contributing to the unplanned overpopulation problem. There has been some controversy over this practice as it flies in the face of tradition and there have been questions about any negative health consequences from this practice.
What Is Early Neutering?
Some concerns that have been explored have included:
Behavioral problems with regard to shyness or socialization issues in kittens neutered early.
This has not proven accurate: Early neutered kittens share the behavioral benefits listed above and temperament problems have not been documented.
Kittens neutered early may be stunted or small.
Actually, early neutering delays closure of the bone growth plates making for a slightly taller cat.
Early neutered kittens will have a narrowed urethra that will predispose them to urinary blockage.
This has not been confirmed from any evidence-based medicine. Urethral dimensions in male cats do not vary based on the age at neutering.
Early neuter predisposes to capital physis fracture or slipping.
There is actually some truth to this one so let us explain this orthopedic problem. Physis is the medical term for a bone growth plate; that plate is the area on an immature bone where the bone is actively growing in length. The bone in this area is softer and the two pieces can slip apart creating a problem for the growing bone. The “capital physis” is the growth plate of the head of the femur (one of the hip bones). If it slips, then surgery (a femoral head and neck osteotomy) is needed to restore function.
Early neuter is one of several factors correlated to slipping a capital physis, the other risk factors being male gender, and being overweight. The problem seems to be a combination of being overweight and having delayed closure of the growth plates (as occurs with neuter before age six months). This injury is not common among early neutered kittens but early neutered kittens are overrepresented among cats with this injury.
A 2002 study out of Cornell University that followed 1600 cats for 11 years found no diseases, injuries or other issues common in kittens neutered between ages 3.5 months and six months versus those neutered after age six months. Ask your veterinarian about early neutering; some prefer that kittens weigh at least 3 pounds so that the tissues are not too difficult to manipulate.
What is Done Exactly
The feline neuter is one of the simplest surgical procedures your veterinarian will ever need to perform. The cat is fasted overnight so that anesthesia is given on an empty stomach. The scrotum is opened with a small incision and the testicles are brought out. The cords are either pulled free and tied to each other or a small suture is used to tie the cords and the testicle is cut free. The skin incision on the scrotum is small enough so as not to require stitches of any kind.
There is minimal recovery with this procedure. Some clinics discharge kittens the same day as surgery. There should be no bleeding or swelling. It is a good idea not to bathe the kitten until the incisions have healed for 10 to 14 days from the time of surgery.