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Home > Cats > Will Neutering My Cat Calm Him Down? (Vet Answer)

Will Neutering My Cat Calm Him Down? (Vet Answer)

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Dr. Iulia Mihai Photo

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Dr. Iulia Mihai

Veterinarian, DVM MSc

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Neutering has many benefits for male cats, including minimizing certain disease risks and helping address some behavioral issues, such as spraying urine, attempting to escape to mate, or fighting with other cats. Therefore, neutering your cat can help calm him down if his behavior issues are driven by his sex hormones.

Neutering also eliminates the risk of accidental mating and the uncontrolled increase of the cat population in case your cat goes or lives outside.

In this article, learn about the neutering procedure, the proper age to get it done, and its benefits.

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What Is Neutering?

In some parts of the world, the term neutering is used to describe the desexing of male pets. However, the term itself isn’t sex-specific. Neutering refers to the surgical removal of certain reproductive organs – the testicles in male pets and the uterus, ovaries, and both fallopian tubes in female pets. Sex specific terms for male animals are castration or orchiectomy. For female animals, the sex-specific term is spaying or ovariohysterectomy.

When a male cat is neutered, both of his testicles are removed. As a result, the male becomes infertile, unable to reproduce. The procedure is simpler and takes less time for males compared to females, as is the subsequent recovery.

Neutering a male cat is considered the gold standard to desexing them. Non surgical forms of sterilization do exist, but they’re often experimental and not practical on a long term basis. Considering the current state of the science and the complex regulatory and manufacturing hurdles between the laboratory and the market, it is unlikely to see a non-surgical contraceptives or sterilant available for legal, widespread use in cats any time soon.

 orange cat with veterinary cone on its head after surgery
Image Credit: Sophie McAulay, Shutterstock

What Is the Best Age for Neutering a Cat?

There is no general rule, as the right time to neuter your cat depends on several factors, mainly the individual stage of development and breed. Your veterinarian will know best what the right time for surgery is. That said, the standard period of neutering that’s accepted by most veterinarians is around the age of 5–6 months (before cats reach sexual maturity). But some cat breeds have early or late sexual maturity. Certain veterinarians may recommend neutering your cat before or after this age. Male cats can be neutered as early as 8 weeks old (typically those that live in shelters). There has been some controversy over this practice as it flies in the face of tradition but all research to date has shown no negative consequences to early neutering.

neutered cat sleeping
Image Credit: ozanuysal, Shutterstock

What Are the Benefits of Neutering?

When cats reach puberty, they will seek to mate and mark their territory, so they will mark in different places in the house — walls, clothes, furniture, etc. Your cat will show the same behavior if he lives outdoors, but this behavior is not as disturbing because you do not smell the pungent odor of urine.

The reproductive instinct is quite strong. Your cat will “activate” every time a female cat in the neighborhood goes into heat. He will also likely spend long periods away from home if he senses a female in heat. Male cats usually come back very weak, because they have a tendency to forgo eating when they’re keen on mating.

In addition, they may also come back injured. This can be for several reasons. They might be injured as a result of fighting with other male cats who are trying to reach the same female. They are also likely to be injured from a motor vehicle accident – they often gamble to reach females and aren’t as careful when it comes to crossing roads. A cat who’s escaped for the first time to seek a female might not be aware of the danger of motor vehicles and therefore is at an increased risk of experiencing such an unfortunate event. It’s also important to note that some of these injuries can be extremely extensive, requiring surgeries and long term rehabilitation. There’s also a risk of such incidents being fatal.

There are additional risks with your male cat escaping to find a female to mate with as well. Close contact with strange cats increases the risk of your cat contracting some diseases, including some incurable ailments, such as Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) – a disease that’s transmitted primarily by bite wounds from other cats.

Finally, it’s worth noting that anytime your cat escapes to mate with a female in heat, there’s a risk that he may end up lost, displaced, or stolen and may not return.

Not only does neutering your male cat help eliminate these risks (and more), it also offers several notable benefits.

The Benefits of Neutering Male Cats
  • It helps reduce the stray/feral cat population.
  • It can eliminate the risk of some cancers and reduce the risk of others.
  • Your cat will no longer want to leave home to mate, so the risk of him contracting illnesses or ending up injured, lost, or displaced are reduced.
  • Disgruntled female cat owners will likely no longer chase away or harm your cat.
  • Your cat may stop spraying urine to mark his territory.
  • Your cat will be less likely to fight with other cats.
happy cat, owner is stroking cat
Image Credit: Denis Val, Shutterstock

What Are the Possible Complications of the Neutering Procedure?

Any surgical procedure comes with risks, including neutering. Fortunately, this is statistically one of the most risk-free procedures out there. It is extremely short (especially for males), and almost all cats bounce back remarkably well.

Possible Complications & Risks of Neutering in Male Cats
  • Anesthesia — This is always associated with a certain degree of risk, so the veterinarian will examine your cat carefully before the procedure and do additional tests (such as blood tests). In this way, the vet ensures that your cat is a good candidate for general anesthesia. However, in some cases, even if the cats are good candidates for general anesthesia, complications can occur during surgery. However, these incidences are very rare with present-day anesthesia protocols.
  • Wound licking — Cats naturally feel the need to clean themselves, even after surgery. To keep this from happening, the vet will recommend that your cat wear a cone (Elizabethan collar) to prevent them from licking the incision site. If you remove the collar too soon, or if your cat manages to wriggle it off, they may obsessively lick their wound site, and it can become infected as a result.
  • Wound Infections – if you don’t follow the sanitation protocols explained by your veterinarian, your cat’s wound might become infected postoperatively. For example, if you’re not consistent with your litter box upkeep and cleaning, a dirty litter box might lead to an infection in your cat. Other cats may also curiously lick or bite at the wound site; this is why most vets recommend offering your cats some alone time while they recover from the procedure.

How to Take Care of Your Cat After Neutering

This type of surgery is much simpler in males than in female cats. The recovery and healing time is also much shorter. However, you must pay attention to any signs of infection or bleeding.

Clinical signs of an infection at the incision site include:

  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Area being warm/hot to the touch
  • Pus at the site of the incision
  • Unpleasant smell
  • Fever

Contact the vet as soon as possible if your cat shows these signs after the neutering procedure. As a rule, if the post-surgical instructions of the veterinarian are followed, there should be no risk of infection.

cat wearing cone
Image Credit: Pixabay

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Do Cats Gain Weight After Neutering?

After neutering, your cat will undergo hormonal changes, which will make him less active. Neutered cats (males and females) have slightly lower nutritional requirements when compared to their intact counterparts. Discuss your cat’s nutritional needs with your veterinarian to ensure that you don’t overfeed your pet cat and end up with an obese pet.


Will My Cat Give Up the Habit of Marking the Territory After Neutering?

Most likely, your cat will give up this habit once he is neutered. But you have to be patient for a while (up to 8 weeks) because hormonal regulation is done gradually, over time, and not immediately after the procedure. However, there is a small risk that this behavior will remain (albeit less pronounced) even after the procedure. In such an event, you might need the services of a cat trainer or behaviorist.


Does Early Neutering Increase the Potential for Urinary Tract Obstruction?

Studies show that this is actually a myth and that early neutered cats are no more likely to develop urinary tract obstructions than later neutered cats or intact cats. The cats used in the study were neutered cats (at 7 weeks and 7 months) and intact cats.

White Cat rubbing against male legs outdoor sunlight
Image By: Sergey Zaykov, Shutterstock

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Final Thoughts

Neutering is effective in stopping cats from reproducing, but this procedure has many more benefits. Since it affects the production of hormones, your cat’s desire to reproduce is eliminated, likely making him less territorial and aggressive towards other cats. Also, the chances that your cat will mark his territory after neutering are reduced. For more information about neutering your male cat, it’s strongly advised to discuss the procedure with your veterinarian. Each cat is different, and though the general procedure is the same, the intricacies of post-operative care, management, and behavior will be unique for your cat.


Featured Image Credit: Andrii Medvednikov, Shutterstock

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