7 Excellent Reasons To Spay or Neuter Your Cat

Two friendly cats on spring

More Than the Birds and the Bees

Every cat owner has heard the advice to spay or neuter their pet. There are both benefits and risks to consider when deciding to perform the procedure. The benefits outweigh the risks.

If you’re not convinced about spaying or neutering your cat yet, read on to find out more. There are many things to think about — including the "unthinkable" potential risks to a cat that is "looking for love in all the wrong places."

1. Fixing Your Cat Prevents Future Health Problems

While the primary purpose for spaying and neutering your pet is to avoid unwanted litters, there are also health benefits for your cat. Veterinary oncologist Dr. Wesley Campbell in Charlotte, North Carolina, says there are several benefits to spaying and neutering your pet.

"The procedure reduces aggression, lessens territorial behavior, cuts back on the desire to roam and the chance of being hit by a vehicle and — if your animal goes outside or gets loose — prevents it from producing unwanted puppies or kittens," Campbell says. "Spaying can also reduce the risk of some cancers."

Some of the most common health problems the procedure prevents include mammary, ovarian, and uterine cancer in females and testicular cancer and prostate disease in males. Some research indicates it may also reduce females' risk of aplastic anemia, a blood disorder triggered by excessive levels of estrogen.

It is best to spay or neuter your cat when they are four or five months old — before they experience their first heat cycle or become sexually aware. If you don't have a chance to do so, you can still make a difference by fixing your pet before they reach the age of 12 to 18 months and complete their growth cycle. 

2. The Procedure is Completely Safe

It is important for your peace of mind to know that the operation is safe and very straightforward. Both female and male cats experience minimal bleeding compared to other species. Recovery takes only a few days.

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You may need to protect the incision area by using an Elizabethan collar or fitting your cat with a surgical recovery suit to prevent bleeding or other complications. Other than that, young cats are known for their rapid recovery after being spayed or neutered. 

3. Fixing Male Cats Reduces Aggression and Spraying

Males are known for marking their territory, especially when they scent a female in heat in the same neighborhood. In their minds, they are competing with another male even if they don’t go outside. 

When a male cat has romance on their mind, their behavior is somewhat unpredictable. They may be aggressive towards other animals and people. 

Neutering reduces both of these unwanted behaviors.

4. It Costs Less Than Caring For and Placing Kittens

You might not know how complicated finding good homes for unexpected additions is if you have never tried to convince people to adopt kittens. Many individuals choose not to care for a pet, regardless of how much they might want to, due to economic or personal medical reasons. 

Fixing your cat before they become pregnant prevents this hassle and the stress you might experience during your pet’s pregnancy and delivery. Think about it. If your cat gives birth and it takes some time for you to place the kittens, you are feeding five or more animals instead of just one. Some cats give birth to as many as eight kittens in a litter. Some breeds, like Siamese, can gift you with 12 "grandkits." 

Disgruntled mother cat feeding her kittens outside

5. Your Pet Has a Lower Chance of Wandering Off

The influx of hormones in both male and female cats during their mating season is so powerful that it changes how they look at the world around them. They’re more interested in mating than anything else. They must find a partner at all costs. An intact cat goes to great efforts to escape their living environment and enter the wild just on the off chance of finding a partner to mate with.

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Some cats are microchipped, and you may even fit your pet with an I.D. tag, but they can still get lost — or worse. Spaying or neutering your cat prevents this by removing the driving force behind this risky behavior. 

6. It Reduces Cat Overpopulation

As noted, cats typically deliver between four and eight kittens at a time. A female cat goes into heat several times per year. One queen can have 20 to 24 kittens in a year. 

If your unneutered male cat goes outdoors, you don't have the responsibility of finding homes for his offspring, but you are contributing to the rise of stray cats in your area.

This seems like a pretty good reason to fix your pet, right?

7. It Reduces Disease Spreading 

Indoor cats typically don’t spread parasites or infectious diseases to other animals unless their owners act like vectors. However, cats that live indoors and outdoors come in contact with plenty of other cats and other species. There’s a range of bacteria, viruses, parasites, and fungi circulating in this outdoor population at all times. 

A spayed or neutered cat is less interested in exploring the wonders of the great outdoors, especially if they don’t need to mate anymore. They’re healthier and have a lower risk of transmitting any disease to other cats, but they also have a lower chance of giving you a potentially dangerous pathogen. 

A 2023 article by the American Veterinary Medical Association highlights that cat-transmitted sporotrichosis emerged as an epidemic in Brazil, with the potential to spread to the U.S. This fungus is called a "zoonosis," meaning it can be transmitted from animals to humans. Cats can transmit many other zoonoses to humans.

Are There Any Risks?

Like any other operation your cat may need during their life, the procedure is not 100 percent safe. Animals react differently to various types of anesthesia. Ask your vet to explain the risks to you and then sign a document attesting that you understand them. 

Besides local inflammation and the possibility of the incision reopening if not properly attended, a young and healthy cat has nothing to worry about in this routine operation.

That said, there are some long-term risks, including: 

  • Increased likelihood of bladder stones in male cats due to a smaller urethral diameter

  • Higher tendency to put on weight, which increases the risk of obesity and diabetes in senior animals

  • Delay in growth for animals spayed or neutered at just eight weeks of age 

While very early spaying and neutering is not common across the globe, it is used in some countries. It's most common for cats and dogs not to be fixed until they are at least five or six months old. 

A rustic picture of kittens feeding on mother while one stares at camera

Make an Appointment Today

Hopefully, these reasons convinced you not to think twice about spaying or neutering your cat. The cost of the procedure depends on your location, but there are budget clinics that charge as little as $100 for the operation. On average, expect to pay between $300 and $500 for female cats and $200 to $300 for male cats. 

Contact your veterinarian and schedule an appointment as early as possible. Some vets avoid spaying cats when they’re in heat. If that’s the case for your pet, you may have to wait until their cycle ends. 

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