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The neutering of your female or male cat is a relatively simple and safe operation with positive results. It is usually recommended by your veterinarian unless you intend to breed your cat. Sometimes the operation disturbs the cat owner psychologically or emotionally, far more than the cat who quickly recovers and becomes an even better pet.

Female Cat:

The female cat matures more rapidly than the male cat, usually coming into breeding age at about 7 months old. She may reach breeding age as early as five months old.

She is able to produce dozens of kittens in her lifetime. Unless you are breeding your cat purposely with known sales in advance, you will have the responsibility of finding homes for these kittens. If you do not want that responsibility, you should seriously consider having your female cat spayed.

Unless your female cat is spayed or mated, she will be in recurring heat, not just a few times a year, but every three or four weeks, exhausting and distressing herself in her natural desire to mate. The most common symptoms that your cat is in heat are restlessness, nervousness, and tenseness. She may roll on the floor quite a bit and appear to be more affectionate than usual. Her voice changes and becomes more piercing and demanding.

Although the female cat has many heat periods during the year, she usually only has a few peak periods called "estrus" in which pregnancy can occur. Usually there are two, but sometimes three times occur. These usually occur in late fall or early winter and one as late winter or early spring. Each normally lasts 15 to 21 days. It is possible for a female cat to come into heat ten days after bearing a litter.

Spaying:

Many veterinarians feel that the ideal age for spaying is at about six to eight months old, before the female cat has had her first seasonal period. If you would like your cat to have a litter or two before having her spaying, you can still have the operation performed safely at a later age. It is usually not recommended for a female to be mated until she is one year old.

In a healthy cat, the operation of spaying involves an anesthetic, an abdominal incision, and hospitalization. After going home and until the stitches are removed, activity should be restricted and care taken to see that she does not break open the incision. The younger female usually heals faster than the older cat.

Spaying will not usually alter your cat's disposition or personality except to make her less nervous, less noisy, more relaxed, playful, and affectionate. She possibly may put on weight and increase in size, but proper diet control and exercise will keep her energetic, sleek, and muscular.

In addition, spaying will probably lengthen the life of your cat since she will have fewer health problems. For instance, the spayed cat does not develop pyometritis, a uterine infection not uncommon in unspayed, middle-aged or older female cats which may require surgical treatment when the cat is quite ill. The spayed cat is also less likely to develop breast tumors which often occur as the female cat gets older, especially if she has raised a litter of kittens.

Male Cat:

A mature, unaltered male cat (tom) has an almost uncontrollable desire to roam and fight, and his litter box will always have a strong odor. If you have an unaltered tom and keep him inside, he usually develops bad habits such as spraying your walls and furniture with a forceful stream of urine. The spray can ruin home furnishings. The odor is obnoxious to humans and difficult if not impossible to deodorize. Some psychologists say this spraying by a male is his way of marking his territory. Males usually spray while standing, but may assume a praying position as well.

Neutering or Castration:

Neutering or castrating a male cat that is usually performed by the veterinarian after the cat is eight or nine months old. Although simple, this operation requires anesthesia and perhaps overnight hospitalization.

After the surgery, the male cat will be an even better het. He will be more playful than hostile. He will not become anxious and there will be less stress. Howling related to mating activities will cease. He will stay at home more with less desire to roam.

If neutering is done when the cat is young, he may not acquire spraying habits. If he has already established this habit, it may remain after neutering. The strong, offensive odor will no longer be present, however.

After the operation, the male cat may have a more even disposition. He will be more playful and will not become fat or sluggish. He will not lose his charm or intelligence and will be easier to get along with and more pleasant in general.