If you just brought home your first kitten or cat, it is common and recommended to spay or neuter your feline friend. Kittens should be spayed or neutered when they reach sexual maturity, which is usually between four and six months of age. However a cat can be safely spayed or neutered at any age, so even older adopted cats should have this procedure.
What is involved in neutering or spaying your cat?
Neutering a male cat is a fairly simple procedure performed by a professional veterinarian. The cat is placed under general anesthesia, and the testes are removed through an incision in the scrotum. The incision is very small and stitches are usually not even necessary.
Spaying a female cat is a more involved and invasive procedure, and as such is often more expensive. The ovaries, fallopian tubes and uterus are removed after the cat is immobilized with general anesthesia. The abdominal area is shaved and the surgical wound usually only requires a few stitches.
Some rescue organizations participate in a program where homeless cats are captured, neutered or spayed and released. This is considered more humane than euthanizing strays. The cats that are sterilized have part of one ear clipped. If you adopt a cat with a clipped ear, he or she has almost certainly been already spayed or neutered as a result of this effort.
There are many benefits to spaying or neutering your cat:
1. Stray and feral cat overpopulation is a massive problem. The life of a homeless cat can be miserable and harsh. Feral cats also contribute to the destruction of other indigenous wildlife, especially birds.
2. Un-spayed female cats may be restless and noisy and exhibit other behavior problems.
3. Males who are not neutered have many behavior problems, including a tendency to roam if allowed outside and a habit of spraying strong smelling urine inside the house to mark their territory.
4. Spayed and neutered cats generally have fewer health problems and a longer life expectancy.
There really is no downside to sterilizing your cat. Sometimes neutered males require slightly less food after the procedure so they don't gain weight. But most cats are healthier, happier and calmer if they've been spayed or neutered.
In fact, most animal shelters and rescue groups require cats to be spayed or neutered before they will allow them to be adopted. The new owner should anticipate picking up the cost for this procedure.
The procedure usually takes less than a day and you and your new cat will be all the better for it.
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