The Basics of Neutering

Castration prevents mating and can help prevent unwanted behavior, such as spraying urine, in male cats.

By CatChannel Editors

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Neutering a male cat is called castration. Male cats are usually neutered between 7 and 9 months of age, before establishing undesirable habits, like spraying urine. Neutering involves the removal of the testicles, the source of sex hormones and sperm cells. The incisions are usually so small that sutures are unnecessary. Generally, the cat is sent home the same day.

Vasectomy is available but rarely used for male cats. "People do ask me about vasectomies in cats for their individual pets, and I always recommend against it for four reasons," says John Hamil, DVM. Vasectomized cats remain territorial and still fight, wander and spray urine, he says.

Vasectomy renders a male cat sterile but does not affect testosterone levels provided the spermatic artery remains intact. Simply put, a vasectomized cat can mate but cannot father kittens.

The procedure has implications for population control in feral cat colonies, says Thomas R. Kendall, DVM, who has done research in this area. The idea is that if dominant males fathering the kittens in a colony or neighborhood are identified and vasectomized, they can continue to mate with females in the colony but not reproduce. Dominant vasectomized males would prevent submissive, intact males from inseminating unspayed females.

"Vasectomy is still a topical issue for feral cat colonies," Kendall says.

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The Basics of Neutering

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Reader Comments

Jack    Huntington Beach, CA

4/21/2014 9:24:46 AM

Who does cat vasectomies in southern California? Where can I get that done for a feral cat?

sem    International

9/3/2013 4:26:29 AM


By that argument, we should have all his organs removed for fear that they might get cancer.

The cats with vasectomies have better lives than the neutered ones. Just like a vasectomized man has a better life than a eunuch. More yang and vitality still there which is a natural thing.

Pam    Columbia, SC

4/28/2013 1:14:27 PM

If vasectomized cats "remain territorial and still fight, wander and spray urine" how can this be preferable to castration, especially for ferals? Curbing fighting, wandering and spraying are arguments used to support TNR of ferals. So-called "Natural behaviors" often land cats in kill shelters. Far better to prevent them, especially where more than one cat lives in a home. And to Mary: I run a rescue and have had many, many cats live to their upper teens and even 20's without arthritis, not one suffering blindness, I certainly don't think they had a "substandard life" - quite the opposite, in fact, and they all developed quite normally despite all being spayed and neutered, most at a young age. I've only ever had three or four neutered sprayers, and they stopped when their group dynamic was changed.

Myriam    Mount Sinai, NY

7/25/2012 11:52:08 AM

I think most veterinarians are concerned about the money it would take away from them if they performed vasectomies and tubeligations. There would not be the need for more anesthetics, pain killers. In short recovery time is shorter and with less risks and complications. What they are not considering is that there are more people who would really want these less invasive procedures and learning these new methods would have an incredible impact on their clientele. They would probably have pet owners coming from miles away just to have their pet treated there. The cost should also be more reasonable considering it is shorter. I am also in favor of removing the females ovaries via arthroscopic surgery (also less invasive) The female (including humans) doesn't lose her urge just because they are removed.

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