While neutering male cats is considered a safe and common procedure that can provide many benefits for both the cat and their owner, some pet parents still have questions about getting their male cats neutered. Today our Davidson County vets explain what to expect before and after neutering your male cat, including behaviors and recovery.
Understanding Cat Neutering
Sooner or later all cat owners will be faced with the decision of whether or not to get their cat spayed (female cats) or neutered (male cats).
For many pet parents it's a difficult decision to make. If you have questions about the spay or neuter process it's always best to consult your vet. Your veterinary professional knows your cat well and can provide you with the detailed answers you need.
That said, many people ask our Davidson County veterinarians about the various ways they have heard that male cats can 'change' once they have been neutered, and voice concerns over the healing process. So today we are here to discuss some of the facts about neutering male cats.
Neutering Your Male Cat
Neutering is the process of removing a male cat's testicles, which produce most of their testosterone. Testosterone drives your male cat's sexual behavior, including behaviors such as roaming in search of females, aggression towards other males, and spraying (territory marking). By having your male cat neutered you are preventing or minimizing these behaviors as well as preventing the birth of unwanted kittens and a handful of serious health conditions.
Understanding The true Impact of Not Neutering Your Male Cat
It is estimated that approximately 3.2 million stray cats enter shelters across the US every year.
Many people who own male cats believe that it is only female cats that should be fixed in order to prevent the birth of unwanted kittens. But the fact remains that it takes two to tango, and owners of male cats are equally responsible when it comes to preventing the birth of unwanted kittens across the US.
But there are other factors to consider, beyond population control, when choosing whether or not to get your male cat neutered.
The Behavior of Male Cats
As mentioned above neutering your male cat may help to stop or limit a host of undesirable behaviors associated with testosterone (sexual behaviors). These changes can occur immediately or several weeks after their procedure. The age, breed, or environment of your kitty doesn't typically make any big effects on these changes.
By reducing or eliminating your cat's desire to roam the risk of them being in wandering-related accidents decreases. Their chances of being scratched or bitten by other cats (which can put your cat at risk of contracting illnesses) are also reduced because their aggression towards male cats is lowered.
Neutering doesn't completely stop your cat from spraying, because cats can also do this when they are nervous, not just to mark territory, although the smell of this urine is less intense in neutered cats. Having your kitten neutered while still young can help to curb this behavior before it even begins.
There are also many misconceptions going around regarding the behavioral effects neutering has on cats. Neutering will not make your cat lazy or fat as long as you provide your feline fur baby with a healthy diet and plenty of exercise. However, you may need to reduce the number of calories you are feeding them and provide them with extra playtime because they won't be burning calories through activities such as fighting, roaming, or mating as often.
Any behaviors that aren't related to hormonal influences will not be affected, including your cat's ability to hunt.
What To Expect From Male Cat Neutering Recovery
After being neutered it's normal for male cats to experience some mild side effects as a result of the anesthesia and the procedure itself such as lethargy, nausea, vomiting, and discomfort. This makes it important to follow your vet's post-operative care instructions carefully, so your cat can recover as safely and quickly as possible.
When you first bring your kitty home you should keep them in a dark, quiet, room because your cat's eyes may be sensitive as a result of the protective ointment your vet may place on your cat's eyes (so they don't dry out). Cat's can also sometimes be aggressive as the result of the discomfort they are feeling, so we also recommend keeping other people and pet's away from your furry friend during this time.
Other precautions you will need to implement to help your cat recover smoothly include:
- During the first 24 hours give your cat a small amount of water to sip on, and only a quarter or half portion of their food to limit vomiting
- Keep a clean litter box close to their resting area, so they don't need to walk far to relieve themselves
- Use shredded paper instead of kitty litter for the first week to prevent dust and dirt from getting stuck in the incision site
- Don't let your cat run, jump, climb stairs, or go outside for the first seven days after their procedure because it could slow their healing, we recommend keeping them in a crate or secure room during this time
It should take as little as 24 to 48 hours for your cat's nausea to clear up and for their appetite to fully return, but it will take roughly 7 days for your male cat to fully recover after being neutered.
If after 48 hours your cat is still vomiting, lethargic, having diarrhea or their appetite isn't returning call your vet immediately.
What To Watch for After Your Cat Has Been Neutered
As we said above it's normal for cats to experience side effects such as lethargy, lack of appetite, nausea, and vomiting after being neutered, and you should call your vet if these symptoms don't go away after 48 hours.
Your cat may also not be able to urinate or defecate normally for the first 24 to 48 hours following their procedure, if 72 hours have passed and they still haven't been able to relieve themselves normally you need to seek veterinary care.
You also need to carefully monitor your cat's incision site for bleeding. It's normal for there to be a little blood around the incision site during the first 24 hours following their procedure, but if you are still noticing blood after this time frame contact your vet.
As expected, neutered cats will feel uncomfortable and be in some pain for about 36 after being neutered, which is why your vet will provide your pet with long-lasting pain medications in the form of an injection, to help manage your kitty's pain. If at home you believe your cat requires more pain medication, call your vet. Do not give your cat pain medications designed for humans or any medications without consulting your vet first because many medications can be toxic to cats, cause serious health complications, and in serious situations even death.
You also need to call your vet immediately if you notice your cat exhibiting any of these signs after being neutered:
- The incision site has reopened
- Pus or discharge coming from the incision site
- Your cat hasn't urinated in 24 hours
- Refusing to eat
- Swelling or redness at the incision site
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.
Contact our Davidson County vets today to learn more having your male cat neutered, or to schedule an appointment.
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