Jacqueline Coombe is a freelance writer specialising in business development, marketing, and career development content.
Desexing cats is a standard procedure that’s often recommended by vets. If you’re considering getting a cat, you might be weighing up whether or not to have your feline family member desexed. Ultimately, whether you have your cat desexed or not comes down to personal choice. One of the most obvious reasons to desex is to prevent unwanted pregnancies.
However, desexing can come with other benefits for your cat, you, and the wider community. Let’s consider some of the advantages of desexing and review what the procedure involves. We’ll also offer insights on when you should desex your cat.
The benefits of desexing your cat
Desexing your cat can be good for their health, support their longevity, and make them easier to live with at home. It can also prevent negative impacts for the wider community and local wildlife.
Benefits for your cat and you
If you desex your cat, he/she will likely live longer and be better protected from illnesses and diseases, including certain cancers and the feline immunodeficiency virus. They’re less likely to roam around looking for a mate, which ensures they’re off the roads and safer. Research suggests spaying (female) and neutering (male) could boost cat lifespans by as much as 39% and 62%, respectively.
Desexed cats can be more affectionate, calmer, and happier. They’re less stressed and less likely to spray and mark territory. Un-desexed female cats will exhibit behavioural changes that can be irritating and difficult to manage.
When they’re in season, they can wail and howl loudly, sometimes in the middle of the night. Indoor cats will scratch and ask to be let out so they can find a mate.
Male cats left un-desexed can be territorial and aggressive about fighting other males to claim the right to mate with females. The fighting can involve violent behaviour and infections and injuries that warrant trips to the vets.
Excessive vocalisation is also a potential issue with un-desexed male cats, as they can also growl and hiss around the house as a symptom of aggression.
Desexed cats will have their instinct to roam subdued, which can minimise the risk of getting run over and attacked by other animals.. A desexed cat means you won’t have to microchip and vaccinate litters of kittens, in addition to finding homes for them.
Finally, your local council might charge less for registering a desexed cat, so that’s an additional cost-saving to consider.
Social and environmental benefits
Within seven years, a single pair of mating cats can result in hundreds of thousands of kittens if their kittens are also left un-desexed. Desexing cats can prevent stray and feral cats, usually unwanted cats and their offspring who can’t find homes. Also, it can eliminate the tragedy of putting down unwanted kittens and cats. Finally, stray cats feed on local wildlife, which threatens endangered species.
Common myths about desexing your cat
One common myth about desexing cats is that they're likely to become overweight. Desexed cats may gain a bit of weight as they’re less likely to roam and tend to eat more, and their metabolism slows down slightly. However, if you follow your vet’s advice, let your cat exercise regularly, and feed him/her a nutritious diet, they should not experience significant weight gain.
One common myth is that their personality will change completely. It’s true your cat will become less aggressive but he/she will still be likely to be loving and affectionate as before. Another prevalent myth is that female cats must go into heat before they’re desexed. This is incorrect as female cats can and should be desexed before they start breeding.
What’s the best time to desex your cat?
Spaying and neutering are best carried out from as early as two weeks up to five months before they reach sexual maturity. However, note some female cats will go into heat before they’re five months old. For this reason, it’s widely recommended you have your cat desexed before they’re four months old.
It’s perfectly safe for kittens, who tend to recover from the surgery very quickly. However, if you have an older cat who hasn’t been desexed, you can definitely still get him/her desexed.
The surgical procedure
Spaying applies to female cats whilst neutering is the term for desexing male cats. Male have their testicles removed and females have their ovaries and usually, the uterus removed. While you as a cat owner might be concerned about your furry friend going under general anaesthetic, it’s a low-risk procedure and your cat will usually be ready to bring home on the same day or the next day.
For males, it involves making relatively small incisions and so is fairly straightforward. Females need a longer recovery time as the procedure is slightly more involved. In terms of cost, you might be paying around $200 to $500, though this will vary depending on the vet. Note spaying typically costs more than neutering.
Aftercare for your cat
Your cat will fast before the surgery, and your vet will provide you with appropriate pain medication to alleviate your cat’s post-surgery discomfort. Male cats might take just a couple of days while female cats may require a few days or more to recover. Your cat will need to wear a collar to stop them from licking the surgical site, and you’ll probably be asked to keep him/her indoors until complete recovery. Surgical sutures might be removed by your vet after around 10 days.
Desexing your cat is a completely normal and common procedure that can lead to significant benefits for your cat, you, and the wider community. In addition to reducing the number of stray and wild cats that can’t find a home, it can have positive outcomes for the local wildlife.
Your cat will likely be a happier, calmer pet who’s easy to live with. For owners who are concerned about putting their cat under general anaesthetic, keep in mind the surgery is commonly performed and associated with low risk. Your feline companion will likely be back at home on the same day and fully recovered within a matter of days.
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