Mar Vista Animal Medical Center

3850 Grand View Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90066

(310)391-6741

marvistavet.com

NEUTERING THE MALE CAT

 

WHY NEUTERING IS A GOOD IDEA

Neutering a male cat is an excellent step to help your young man grow into a loving, well adapted household citizen. The main reason to neuter a male cat is to reduce the incidence of objectionable behaviors that are normal in the feline world but unacceptable in the human world. A neutered male cat has had his testicles removed, not only ending his ability to reproduce but also removing his source of testosterone and his interest in hormone-driven behaviors.

ROAMING

More than 90% will reduce this behavior with neutering.
Approximately 60% reduce this behavior right away.

FIGHTING

More than 90% will reduce this behavior with neutering.
Approximately 60% reduce this behavior right away.

URINE MARKING

More than 90% will reduce this behavior with neutering.
Approximately 80% reduce this behavior right away.

Other benefits of neutering include a drastic reduction in cat urine odor, reduced incidence of feline asthma and of gingivitis (gum inflammation). The reduction in fighting and roaming helps an outdoor male cat reduce his risk of FIV infection, bite wounds and associated abscesses, automobile-related trauma, dog/coyote-related injury, and other outdoor lifestyle situations that result from traveling away from home.

Cosmetic reasons to neuter a male cat has to do with the physical appearance. The mature tomcat is built for battle with a muscular body and facial thickenings (called shields) for protection against the bites of his combat opponents. Tomcats neutered after puberty will eventually lose these characteristics and male cats neutered before puberty never develop them.

feline neuter 1

Male cat neutered prior to puberty

feline neuter 2

Male cat neutered after reaching puberty

(original graphics by marvistavet.com)

 

WHAT IS "EARLY" NEUTERING?

A common animal shelter practice has been to adopt out a young male kitten with his new owner paying a neuter deposit which is refunded when the kitten is neutered at the traditional age of six months. The problem has been that new owners do not return and young cats go unneutered. Given that studies have found that approximately 70% of feline litters are unplanned and there is presently an enormous feline overpopulation problem, the importance of neutering cannot be overemphasized.

Early neutering allows for kittens to be neutered prior to adoption thus preventing these kittens from contributing to the unplanned litter problem. There has been some controversy over this practice as it flies in the face of tradition and there have been questions about any negative health consequences from this practice.

Some concerns that have been explored have included:

Behavioral problems with regard to shyness or socialization issues in kittens neutered early.
This has not borne out. Early neutered kittens share the behavioral benefits listed above and temperament problems have not been documented.

Kittens neutered early may be stunted or small.
Actually, early neutering delays closure of the bone growth plates making for a slightly taller cat.

Early neutered kittens will have a narrowed urethra which will predispose them to urinary blockage.
This has not borne out, either. Urethral dimensions in male cats do not vary based on the age at neutering.

Early neuter predisposes to capital physis fracture or slipping.
There is actually some truth to this one so let us explain this orthopedic problem. "Physis" is the medical term for a bone growth plate. A bone growth plate is the area on an immature bone where the bone is actively growing in length. The bone in this area is softer and the two pieces can slip apart creating a problem for the growing bone. The "capital physis" is the growth plate of the head of the femur (one of the hip bones). If it slips, then surgery (a femoral head and neck osteotomy) is needed to restore function. Early neuter is one of several factors correlated to slipping a capital physis, the other risk factors being male gender, and being overweight. The problem seems to be a combination of being overweight and having delayed closure of the growth plates (as occurs with neuter before age 6 months). This injury is not common among early neutered kittens but early neutered kittens are overrepresented among cats with this injury.

A 2002 study out of Cornell University which followed 1600 cats for 11 years found no diseases, injuries or other issues common in kittens neutered between ages 3.5 months and 6 months versus those neutered after age 6 months. Our hospital supports early neutering but prefers that kittens presented for neutering weigh at least 3 lbs so that the tissues are not too difficult to manipulate.


Growth plates are shown in green, except
capital physes which are shown in red.
(original graphic by marvistavet.com)

WHAT IS DONE EXACTLY

The feline neuter is one of the simplest surgical procedures performed in all of veterinary medicine. The cat is fasted overnight so that anesthesia is performed on an empty stomach. The scrotum is opened with a small incision and the testicles are brought out. The cords are either pulled free and tied to each other or a small suture is used to tie the cords and the testicle is cut free. The skin incision on the scrotum is small enough so as not to require stitches of any kind.

RECOVERY

There is minimal recovery with this procedure. Most hospitals, like ours, discharge kittens the same day as surgery. There should be no bleeding or swelling. It is a good idea not to bathe the kitten until the incisions have healed 10-14 days from the time of surgery.

 

STILL CURIOUS ABOUT THE FELINE NEUTER?

Shadow Fernandez neuter 01

(original graphics by marvistavet.com)

We have put together a slide show to walk you through an actual feline neuter. These are actual surgical photographs. We invite you into the surgery suite to see how it's done. Click here to view the Feline Neuter Slide Show.

 

Page last updated: 7/25/2018