What you need to know about castration in cats
Castration is the specific term to describe ‘neutering’ of a male animal.
Castration is a relatively simple procedure that removes the testicles. This takes away the reproductive ability of the cat and also a lot of the hormonal ‘maleness’.
What are the advantages?
- Removal of sexual urges makes your pet less inclined to ‘roam’ in search of females ‘on heat’
- It can reduce or prevent certain forms of aggressiveness
- Prevents testicular cancer
- Reduces the risk of prostatic disease in later life
- It can help to control hormone diseases such as tumours
- Castrated animals are often more gentle whilst retaining their spirit and intelligence.
- No risk of unwanted pregnancy if a multi sex multi-pet household
- Can often help control ‘dominance’ behaviours
What are the disadvantages?
- Once castrated your pet cannot ‘father’ any future offspring
- Probably the biggest disadvantage/concern is that castration requires an anaesthetic and surgery. Although a routine procedure, there is obviously a risk with any surgery or anaesthetic. In most cases, the balance of benefit to risk means this shouldn’t be over-interpreted
Many reasons quoted as disadvantages for castration are untrue or misleading:
- Animals do not ‘become fat’ because they have been neutered. Their metabolic needs are slightly reduced so the amount of food they need is slightly reduced. Providing you adjust your dog’s diet, there is no reason them to become fat as a result of neutering
- Animals do not become ‘characterless’, dull, unintelligent etc
I want my cat to have a litter
Most ‘stud’ animals have a proven ‘excellence’. Although everyone loves their own cat and thinks they are perfect, it is important to carefully think through why you want to breed from your cat specifically. You need to weigh up the pros and cons carefully.
Don’t forget for example; you may want a ‘replacement’ for your car but you will potentially have 6 or 7 ‘replacements’ to raise and rehome.
If things don’t go to plan, medical care can be expensive and ‘breeding’ of animals is an area not covered under most insurance policies. Will you be able to afford if this goes wrong?
When should I get my cat castrated?
Sexual behaviour usually develops during maturity and so neutering before this offers the most benefit from that perspective. Once learned, these behaviours are much more difficult (but not impossible) to control.
Surgery is much simpler and therefore safer when your pet hasn’t fully developed sexually and so we usually recommend surgery while your pet is still maturing.
The exact age your pet ‘matures’ will vary depending on species and breed so it is important to speak to your vet relatively early on to ensure you don’t overshoot the ideal window.
I have an older cat that I want to castrate, am I too late?
It is never too late! Although some of the advantages from ‘early castration’ are no longer applicable there are still many benefits to castrating your cat later in life.
Is there any alternative to surgical castration?
‘Chemical’ castration involving the use of oral or injectable drugs is available but does not have the permanent effects that follow surgical castration. The use of such drugs is often accompanied by side effects and so should be discussed with your vet.