Many of the kittens and cats that you see in a rescue centre or straying on the street are the result of unwanted litters. This is the main reason why you should seriously consider getting your cats neutered, both male and female. Plus there are health advantages for the animal itself. Of course some people may want to use their cats for breeding and others may be ethically against pregnancy control. In the end, the decision lies with you, but here are some of the facts to help you make up your mind:
Female cats reach sexual maturity at around six months. When they do and become ‘on heat’, they start to call for a mate. They do this by rolling around on the floor, often quite violently and making a series of loud cries. The RSPCA recommends that you neuter your cat as early as possible to avoid unwanted litters. Their research shows that some cats can become pregnant as early as five months. They therefore suggest that neutering takes place between four and five months.
If you want to neuter your female cat then you need to see your vet. They can carry out a procedure called spaying. This is an operation that involves the removal of the uterus and ovaries done under general anaesthetic. Your cat will therefore feel no pain at the time, but may experience a little discomfort afterwards.
As well as birth control, there are other advantages of spaying. Cats that haven’t been neutered can develop conditions such as pyometra – an infection that occurs in the womb – and mammary tumours. Pyometra can cause excessive drinking, vomiting, depression and a discharge from the vulva, while mammary tumours, although often benign, can spread to other parts of the body. If you don’t have your cat neutered and notice any of these signs then see your vet.
Some cat-owners prefer to do something called ‘control of the season’. You can talk to your vet about hormone injections, pills, sprays and lotions for your cat if you think this is the option for you. This is usually done for cats that are breeding, and works a little bit like birth control pills for humans. Some of these treatments only work to make a female cat less attractive to a male, so will not prevent her from being on heat. The risk or opportunity of pregnancy is therefore still there.
The neutering process for tomcats is also carried out by a vet, under a general anaesthetic and involves the removal of the testicles. As male cats also become sexually active at around six months, the operation can be done at this time or older.
Obviously, a male cat doesn’t have the risk of falling pregnant, but they can still cause havoc in the neighbourhood! When they are on heat, they also mark their territory by spraying urine all over the house, and have an increased desire to wander and fight. None of these are greatly appealing to a pet-owner, especially if you don’t have much outside space for your cat to roam. Neutering can help suppress these urges and make your male cat more cordial to live with.
Churchill Pet Insurance will not provide cover for any preventative or non essential treatment, tests or diagnostic procedures, prescribed general health supplements or routine examinations and treatment including but not limited to routine vaccinations, grooming, treatment of infestations or parasites, spaying or castration, or for any treatment in connection with pregnancy or giving birth, or any event arising out of these procedures.