If you just got a kitten, you might wonder if you should fix it. Our Seattle vets say spaying or neutering prevents unwanted litters and reduces bad behaviors.
Should you get your cat fixed?
About 3.2 million cats enter US shelters yearly, says the ASPCA. Spaying or neutering is the top way to lower unwanted cats in North Seattle shelters.
Spaying and neutering offer more than population control. It can reduce bad behaviors and lower health risks for your cat.
What is the difference between spaying and neutering?
When we talk about getting a companion animal 'fixed', we use a blanket term that covers both the spaying of female animals and the neutering of male animals.
Spaying Female Cats
When a cat is spayed, the uterus and ovaries, or sometimes just the ovaries, of the female cat are surgically removed.
After your cat has been spayed, she cannot have kittens.
Neutering Male Cats
Neutering, or castration as it is sometimes called, involves the removal of the male cat's testes.
Having your male cat neutered will prevent him from fathering kittens.
Benefits of Spaying Your Female Cat
Your tiny little kitten may be mature enough to have her own kittens 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 reduce her risk of pyometra (infection of the womb) and 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 birth can be risky for young cats and costly to their owners.
Cats in the USA are estimated to kill between 1.4 billion and 3.7 billion birds yearly. Keeping the number 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 regarding population control!
Neutering your male cat may help slow the spread of serious cat diseases such as the Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) and Feline leukemia virus (FeLV), 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 toward 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.
Con's of Neutering Cats
Neutering will result in the sterilization of your cat, and she will no longer have the ability to become pregnant. If you wish to breed your cat, spaying should not be done. As well, some cats may gain weight after being neutered Unspayed animals typically have a strong mating desire and can expend a lot of energy seeking a mate and reproducing. Without this energy burden, your cat may eat the same amount but not burn off as many calories.
When Should You Get Your Cat Fixed?
Each pet is different, so ask your vet when to spay or neuter your cat. Usually, kittens can be fixed at four months old. Adult cats can be fixed too.