The Altered Cat

Learn what you can and cannot expect from spaying or neutering your cat.

By Koren Wetmore | Posted: Tue Sep 28 00:00:00 PDT 2004

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kittenDiana Lawton's 6-month-old mixed shorthair cat, Luke, kept her and her roommate awake most nights. The rambunctious ball of orange fur scampered around the house, bumping into walls and dipping his paw into the water glass on the nightstand, spilling its contents.

Luke's nightly excursions ceased, however, after Lawton had him neutered. "He got the surgery and it was like a different cat came home," she said. "He got really quiet and docile. He's not an unhappy cat; he's just not as energetic."

In many cases, spaying or neutering a cat can resolve problems such as spraying, roaming, fighting or restlessness. But experts caution, the surgical procedure is not a cure for all unwanted cat behavior. In fact, 10 percent of male cats and 5 percent of female cats continue to spray urine after having the operation. Twelve percent of males continue to fight, even in the absence of hormones.

The reason? Not all feline behavior is hormonally driven.

When Hormones Rule
Under the influence of male and female hormones, cats mature and develop behaviors related to mate selection, mating and kitten rearing. This includes undesirable activities such as yowling and urine spraying in females, and fighting, spraying and roaming in males.

"Males are extremely restless. They will spray to announce their existence or to mark their territory," said Pamela Reid, Ph.D., vice president of behavioral sciences for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in New York. "I had a client whose female cat would be up all night spraying and, of course, yowling. The cat even sprayed in her face."

Because hormones in the cat's body mainly drive these behaviors, surgery to remove the hormone-producing organs can reduce or completely stop the behavior, Reid said.

In females, this requires removal of the cat's uterus and ovaries in a procedure called spaying. Neutering is the surgical removal of the testicles from male cats. An altered cat is one that has had the surgery. An intact cat is one that has not.

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Reader Comments

Ned    Breinigsville, PA

10/17/2010 1:16:41 PM

Thanks for a short and simple explanation of what is an altered cat. You would be surprised of how many websites I had to visit until I found an CatChannel and learned about spaying, neutering and alter.

ann    dansville, NY

9/27/2010 1:59:11 PM

all of these articles are so informing

sk    nh, CT

6/22/2010 2:44:02 PM

thanks good info

gg    sb, CA

10/30/2009 1:59:24 PM

great info

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