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Information on Neutering Cats

Updated on May 21, 2014

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A gray tabby and an orange tabby snuggle in a sunny window.
A gray tabby and an orange tabby snuggle in a sunny window. | Source

What IS Cat Neutering?

Cat neutering is a surgical procedure.

It is the removal of a cat’s reproductive organs— called spaying for females, and called castration for males.

Details of Spaying:

The procedure can be completed in 15 to 20 minutes. After the cat is anesthetized, the surgeon makes an incision through the skin and abdominal wall, to get to the two ovaries. They are tied off from their blood supply and cut loose connecting tissues. The blood supply to the uterus is then tied off, and the uterus and ovaries are removed. The incision is then closed with sutures.

Details of castration:

This surgery is quicker and less complicated. The cat’s scrotum is shaved and scrubbed. Then,an incision is made over each testicle, and each is removed. The spermatic cord is then tied off, and the incisions are closed.

Reasons to Neuter Your Pet Cat

Unless you are planning to breed your cat, the incidence of feline overpopulation suggests that there are no good reasons not to have it neutered. Aside from the world cat overpopulation and overcrowded animal shelters, there are individual considerations for your cat and your family.

This list of risks comes from the excellent Feline Health Center at Cornell University:

"Moreover, says Andrea Looney, DVM, a lecturer in anesthesiology at the Cornell University Hospital for Animals, neutering at an early age is likely to spare a cat from several lethal health problems later on in its life. As Dr. Looney points out, spaying a female kitten when she is three to six months old—when her reproductive organs are nearing maturity but before her breast tissue develops—will virtually eliminate her risk for mammary cancer later in life. Also, since spaying entails the removal of a female’s uterus, Dr. Looney notes, the procedure rules out the possibility of pyometra, a potentially fatal collection of pus in that reproductive organ.

"Other conditions that are prevented by removal of the female reproductive organs include vaginal hyperplasia, a gross swelling of the vaginal wall that occurs during the normal heat cycle; uterine prolapse, the bulging of the uterus into the vagina; and a variety of infections, cysts, and cancers of the uterus and ovaries.

"As for males, surgical removal of the testes will prevent the potential development of testicular cancer and is almost sure to prevent the occurrence of an enlarged prostate gland and possibly prostatic cancer as well. In addition, neutering eliminates the production of hormones that cause an uncastrated male to roam, be aggressive to other cats, and spray urine for marking territory outside and inside the owner’s home."

Support Neutering!

E & S Pets Car Magnet, Save Lives, Spay and Neuter
E & S Pets Car Magnet, Save Lives, Spay and Neuter

You can promote neutering with this car magnet.


When to Neuter Your Cat

First of all, you cannot have your cat undergo surgery until she or he can handle anesthesia. Since veterinary medicine has progressed as has all other medicne, veterinarians recommend neutering before puberty to prevent unwanted pregnancies in females as well as certain behavioral problems like increased aggression in males and physical problems (like mammary cancer).

This can be around the ages of 5 to 7 months because it has been believed that this is the earliest that the cat can handle anesthesia for required length of time. However, some veterinarians are performing neutering earlier with no ill effects. My cats' vet has sated that she like to remove the sex organs on a male before he starts spraying urine. The behavior could possibly become a habit which remains after the testicles are gone. Scary! Anyone who has smelled the changed odor of a maturing cat’s urine would agree that it will not be selected as the next Yankee Candle Fragrance of the Month.

Costs of Neutering Your Cat

This surgery can run from under $100 to many hundreds, depending where one lives.

For my first cat, I agreed to pre-surgical blood tests a week before the surgery and then an overnight stay for his recovery. This decision was because i love him dearly and he was a cat we rescued from starvation at the hands of his first human family. Since I did not know all of his health history, but what did I DID know was sad, I wanted him highly protected. In southeastern PA, this cost around $200.

My second cat wil not have the blood tests. Also, we do not plan to have him stay overnight. however, we know his entire health history from birth and he is a healthy little rascal! I love him equally, but this castration will cost about $70.

If you wish to find all your low-cost options, local humane societies and local volunteer-run organizations sometimes provide low-cost spay-neuter services. If they don’t provide low-cost spay/neuter services, they can direct you to a program in your area. Also, check with your regular veterinarian. Some participate but don’t advertise their involvement.

Another resource is the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Visit their Web site at and type in your zip code. The database will give you the names of low-cost sterilization programs in your area.

Possible Dangers and Side Effects of Neutering

As with humans, any surgery has risks. Infection is possible but low in incidence and the cat must recover from the anesthesia. Post-operative pain medications may be prescribed, but aspirin, ibuprofen, Tylenol® or other over-the-counter medications should never be used without a veterinarian’s approval since these products may be toxic to cats.

happily, within two weeks or so following either a spay or castration procedure, says Dr. Looney, the neutered female or male cat is likely to be exactly the same as it was prior to the operation, minus its reproductive organs.

I hope this summary is helpful.

Photo and text copyright 2012 Maren Morgan.


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    • Maren Morgan M-T profile image

      Maren Elizabeth Morgan 5 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Peggy W, thanks. I wrote this hoping that cat owners can kn ow in advance all the whats and hows of the procedure. I hope it helps owners who may be hesitant - or help them in finding low-cost options.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      I am a big believer in spaying and neutering. There are far too many animals who do not end up with good home and suffer needless suffering or deaths because their owners are not responsible in caring for them. Thanks for spreading the word! Up, useful and sharing!