If you've just gotten a kitten, you might be wondering if you should have it fixed. Our Rock Hill veterinarians explain why spaying or neutering your cat can help prevent unwanted litters while also reducing a variety of undesirable 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.
However, the advantages of spaying and neutering your pet goes beyond population control. Getting your kitten fixed may help to reduce the risk of your cat developing a variety 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
Before she is six months old, your tiny little kitten may be mature enough to have her kittens. You can help to reduce the number of unwanted cats in your neighborhood by spaying your female cat before she is old enough to have kittens.
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 her first heat cycle can help to lower her risk of pyometra (womb infection) and mammary tumors. It's also worth noting that infected female cats can pass serious illnesses on to their kittens, who can then spread the disease even further. Pregnancy and birth can be dangerous for young cats and expensive for their owners.
Cats are thought to kill between 1.4 billion and 3.7 billion birds in the United States each year. Keeping the number of homeless cats low can help to save the lives of many birds and other animals.
Deter Nuisance Behaviors
Female cats that haven't been spayed will go into heat throughout the year, attracting male cats from all over the neighborhood to your home and garden. Unneutered male cats prowling your property in search of your female can be a problem because they have a proclivity to spray, fight, and caterwaul. Male cats are less likely to enter your yard if your female cat is spayed.
Benefits of Neutering Your Male Cat
Male cats do not have kittens, but one unneutered male cat in your neighborhood can cause many female cats to become pregnant. When it comes to population control, neutering male cats is just as important as spaying female cats!
Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) and Feline leukemia virus (FeLV), which are often spread between cats during fights, can be slowed by neutering your male cat. Neutering cats can help reduce cat aggression and reduce fighting injuries. Neutered men also tend to stay closer to home, which reduces their chances of being hit by a car.
Deter Undesirable Behaviors
Unneutered male cats are more likely than neutered male cats to spray inside the house and might be aggressive toward their owners. Having your male kitten neutered while he is still a kitten can help prevent these behaviors from developing. Furthermore, unneutered male cats frequently roam large areas in search of unspayed females to mate with. Male cats spray to mark their territory and frequently fight with other male cats, which can be annoying, noisy, and smelly.
When Should You Get Your Cat Fixed?
Every pet is different, so ask your veterinarian when you should have your cat spayed or neutered. Kittens can usually be spayed or neutered around the age of four months. Adult cats can also be neutered or spayed.