People's Animal Welfare Society
Eastern Province

Spaying or Neutering Your Cat

When you spay or neuter your cat you are not only saving the lives of other cats, you may be saving the life of your own cat.

You may wonder how spaying or neutering is saving the lives of others; the answer is simple. For every kitten that your cat (male or female) does not produce, one kitten that has already been born may have a chance at a home and family.

You may argue that you can find homes for all of your cat’s offspring. Yes, this may be true, initially; but, there is no way you can guarantee that it will be a responsible or lasting home. The statistics prove that far too many cats end up abandoned or in shelters. Of these abandoned cats most are not spayed or neutered which perpetuates the cycle of breeding leading to more overpopulation. One un-spayed female cat and her offspring can produce 420,000 cats in seven years. There will never be enough homes.

So how does spaying or neutering help your own your own cat?

Spaying (Ovariohysterectomy)

An ovariohysterectomy (OHE) is what we call spaying. Which simply put means the surgical removal of the ovaries, oviducts, uterine horns and the uterus. This surgical procedure removes the organs that produce estrogen and progesterone. While you may know that these hormones control the female heat cycle (estrus) and play a role in pregnancy, there are some things you might not know that could potentially harm your cat physically and psychologically.

Cats, unlike dogs, are spontaneous ovulators, which means that your cat will ovulate, or release the eggs from her ovaries, only if she is mated. If your female is in heat (which lasts for 3 to 16 days) and is not mated, she will come back into heat every 14 to 21 days until she is mated. If confined where mating is impossible it causes great anxiety and frustration on her physically and mentally. This stress will not only affect her, it will affect the whole household.

Risks & Rewards

RISK: Hormonal stress can be both physical and psychological. Your female will be driven by her hormones to actively seek a male. This can lead to incessant yowling, an influx of males around your house, household damages (such as torn draperies or scratched up window sills or doors, urine covered carpet or furniture), or even your cat getting out and being hit by a car, lost or attacked by another cat.

REWARD: When you have your cat spayed this will prevent this stress on her body and mind and she will not be driven to these behaviors.

RISK: Spraying does happen with female cats. When in heat she may begin to spray urine. Once this behavior has started it may be hard to control or eliminate.

REWARD: Spaying at a young age may prevent this from ever occurring. If your cat has already begun this behavior spaying will curb or eliminate it altogether.

RISK: Mammary Cancer is the 3rd most common form of cancer found in female cats. Female reproductive hormones are one of the primary causes of mammary cancer in cats.

REWARD: When you have your cat spayed she will have a 40-60% lower risk of developing mammary cancer than those who have not been spayed. The earlier she is spayed the lower the risk.

RISK: Tumors of the uterus and ovaries are not commonly seen cancers in cats but do occur.

REWARD: Having your cat spayed will prevent this 100%.

RISK: Pyometra is an infection of the reproductive tract which occurs after a heat cycle. Pyometra is when bacteria enter the uterus and it becomes infected and filled with pus. Left untreated this condition is fatal. The usual course of treatment is a very difficult and risky ovariohysterectomy (OHE). Even wi th this treatment your cat can be left with a lifetime of heart and kidney problems which can also prove fatal.

REWARD: Having your cat spayed will prevent Pyometra 100%.

RISK: You will be at a higher risk to give up your un-spayed cat because she is not as friendly or loving as you would like her to be.

REWARD: Spayed cats are much calmer and more affectionate which makes them a much better family member.

Neutering (Orchidectomy or Orchiectomy)

An orchidectomy is what we call neutering. Which simply put means the surgical removal of the testicles.

Other than the issue of not contributing to the overpopulation problem there are a variety of other reasons to neuter your cat.

Whether they are medical or behavioral issues both can be attributed to the male hormone testosterone. This is why vasectomies are not usually performed on animals. While a vasectomy would prevent reproduction it would not affect the unwanted characteristics or conditions that are caused by testosterone, which is produced within the testicle.

Risks & Rewards

RISK: Aggression to others. Testosterone greatly contributes to a male cat’s aggression level. This aggression can be towards other cats or even people if challenged while they are in a heightened state of agitation.

REWARD: By neutering your male cat it prevents the production and distribution of testosterone in your cat’s body. By halting this production and distribution it curbs the aggression in your male cat.

RISK: Spraying is considered by people the most offensive of cat behavior. This is a normal behavior of intact male cats. Although it can occur in spayed or un-spayed females or neutered males this is typically related to the un-neutered male cat.

REWARD: By neutering your cat you will decrease or eliminate the possibilities of spaying.

RISK: Roaming is typical tomcat behavior. Male cats can sense females in heat by the pheromones that they produce. These pheromones travel great distances through the air which lead your male cat in search of the female. This search can end in your cat being lost, stolen or hit by a car.

REWARD: Neutering your cat will make him much less likely to react when he senses a female in heat. Male cats neutered at an early age generally do not sense or react to pheromones, which makes roaming less likely if they are outdoor cats.

RISK: Fighting in un-neutered males is a serious health concern. They will fight to defend their territory or to acquire the female in heat. These fights can lead to very serious injuries. Too many un-neutered cats have scars or missing ears or eyes from these hormone-induced fights.

REWARD: Neutered males are much more likely to stay home and not get into fights with other males over territory or females.

RISK: Testicular cancer.

REWARD: Neutering is 100% prevention.

RISK: Prostate cancer while not commonly seen in cats does occur.

REWARD: Neutering greatly reduces the chances of your cat developing any type of prostate problems.

RISK: Perineal hernias tend to occur later in life. This condition occurs from straining due to an enlarged prostate which weakens the pelvic diaphragm. The most probable cause is prostate enlargement due to the animal not being neutered.

REWARD: Neutering greatly reduces the chances of your cat suffering from an enlarged prostate which in turn reduces the chances of ever suffering from a perineal hernia.

RISK: Un-neutered male cats are more likely to contract contagious diseases such as feline leukemia and feline AIDS due to their roaming and fighting.

REWARD: You neutered cat will be at a lower risk since he will be apt to stay closer to home.

RISK: You will be at a higher risk to give up your un-neutered cat because he is not as friendly or loving as you would like him to be.

REWARD: Neutered cats are much calmer and more affectionate which makes them a much better family member.

Spaying or neutering can be done at any age from 4 months onwards. For the best time to spay or neuter your cat please consult with your veterinarian.

As you can see, spaying and neutering have numerous benefits in addition to population control. Spaying or neutering can add years to your cat’s life or even save it.

Isn’t your cat worth it?