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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Reader Comments

kim    Ojai, CA

4/1/2015 7:25:13 PM

I have three male cats that I got from different rescue groups, which REQUIRED them to be neutered before I could adopt them. The problem with that is they were all very young (7 weeks, 8 weeks, and 3 months old) and underwent "juvenile" neutering. Despite the fact that I feed homemade raw food, with required supplements added, all 3 of my boys have had problems with FUS (they get urinary blockage and can't pee which, if left untreated, can kill them in a day or two). The size of their urine clumps are quite small compared to my other male whom was neutered at around 6 months old ( his are HUGE!!!). I've done my research and discovered that there is a direct correlation as it relates to urine output and the time of neutering. Basically, if a male cat is allowed to reach sexual maturity (his testicles descend and the urine changes odor) his hormones have caused his urethra to expand, for the sole purpose of him being able to spray copious amounts of urine, and he is far less prone to having bouts of FUS (that can still happen if he's on a dry food diet and/or doesn't drink much water). Having said all that, my next cat will either be adopted from a private home, and be neutered when he reaches sexual maturity OR, if adopted from a rescue group, I'll see if he can have a vasectomy and then I'll have him neutered when he reaches maturity.

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

Jan,

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.

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