If you have recently acquired a kitten, you may be wondering when it is best to get them fixed - or if you should have your cat spayed or neutered at all! Today our Apple Valley vets explain why spaying or neutering your cat not only prevents unwanted litters but can also help to curb many unwanted behaviors.
Should you get your cat fixed?
Approximately 3.2 million cats enter US animal shelters every year according to the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals).
The absolute best way to help reduce the number of unwanted cats in Memphis area shelters is by spaying or neutering your cat.
But the benefits of spaying and neutering your pet doesn't stop at population control. Getting your kitten fixed could help to curb many undesirable cat behaviors and help to reduce the risk of your cat developing a number of serious health conditions.
What is the difference between spaying and neutering
When we talk about getting a companion animal 'fixed' we are using a blanket term that covers both the spaying of female animals and the neutering of male animals.
Spaying Female Cats
When a cat is spayed, the uterus and ovaries, or sometimes just the ovaries, of the female cat are surgically removed.
After your cat has been spayed, she will not be able to have kittens.
Neutering Male Cats
Neutering, or castration as it is sometimes called, involves the removal of the male cat's testes.
Having your male cat neutered will prevent him from fathering kittens.
Benefits of Spaying Your Female Cat
Your tiny little kitten may actually be mature enough to have kittens of her own before she is even six months old. By spaying your female cat before she is mature enough to have kittens, you help to reduce the population of unwanted cats in your neighborhood.
Not only that, female cats can have as many as four litters a year. When we consider that the average litter can range in size from two kittens (from a young mother) to as many as ten kittens, that is a staggering number of unwanted cats.
Spaying your kitten before she has her first heat can help to reduce her risk of pyometra (infection of the womb) as well as mammary tumors. It's also important to note that female cats carrying infectious diseases can pass serious conditions on to their kittens who go on to spread the disease even further. Pregnancy and the birth process can be risky for young cats, and costly to their owners.
It is estimated that cats in the USA kill between 1.4 billion and 3.7 billion birds each year. Keeping the numbers of homeless cats to a minimum can help to save the lives of countless birds and other wildlife.
Deter Nuisance Behaviors
Female cats who are not spayed will go into heat frequently throughout the year, attracting male cats from across the neighborhood to your home and garden. Unneutered male cats prowling around your property, looking for your female, can be problematic since these males have a tendency to spray, fight and caterwaul. Spaying your female cat can help to keep male cats out of your backyard.
Benefits of Neutering Your Male Cat
While male cats don't actually have kittens themselves, one unneutered male cat in your neighborhood can make many female cats pregnant. That's why neutering male cats is as important as spaying females when it comes to population control!
Neutering your male cat may help slow the spread of serious cat diseases such as Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) and Feline leukemia virus (FeLV) that are often spread between cats during fights. Neutering can help to reduce cat aggression and may mean fewer injuries from fighting. Neutered males also tend to stay closer to home which helps to reduce their risk of being injured by vehicles.
Deter Undesirable Behaviors
Unneutered male cats typically spray inside the home more than neutered males and may be aggressive towards their owners. Having your male kitten neutered while young can help to prevent these behaviors from starting. Also, male cats who are not neutered, frequently roam over large areas in search of unspayed females to mate with. These males will spray to mark their territory and often fight with other male cats which can be bothersome, noisy, and smelly.
How Old Your Cat Should Be When They Get Fixed
Every pet is unique and your vet will be able to advise you on when you should get your cat spayed or neutered. However, typically kittens can be spayed or neutered at about four months old. Adult cats can be also be spayed or neutered.