Unless you have a plan outlined to breed from your cat when they grow old enough and have made this decision for the right reasons, having your cat neutered is one of your first duties as a responsible cat owner.
Whilst this is more obvious to the owners of female cats who will be left with an unwanted litter if they do ultimately reproduce, it is just as important for male cats too, and the owners of male cats should not neglect neutering simply because they will not have to deal with a surprise litter!
Knowing the appropriate age to neuter a male cat can be challenging; traditionally, males were generally neutered at six to eight months old at the earliest, and many pet owners still assume that there are issues or problems involved in neutering earlier, as can be the case for dogs.
However, today, the neutering of male cats is commonly performed as early as four months of age, and this adds some confusion for the owners of male cats who want to do the right thing!
In this article, we will look at the importance of neutering male cats, and the optimum time to have the procedure performed. Read on to learn more about the age at which a male cat should be neutered.
While neutering female cats to keep them from having a litter might seem to be a more highly loaded decision than neutering a male cat, it is equally important to neuter male cats too!
Whilst you won’t be the one that ends up with a litter as the owner of a male if your cat does mate, that hypothetical litter will still exist due to a decision not to neuter, and will still impact on the number of unwanted kittens in the country nonetheless.
Additionally, unneutered male cats that are sexually mature are apt to roam much further from home than neutered cats, and are more likely to get into hot water when seeking out or trying to tempt a mate! Unneutered male cats are also much more likely to get into fights with other cats, which can lead to both obvious injuries, and the transmission of several potentially fatal feline diseases.
Finally, neutering your male cat will help to protect them against several future health problems related to the reproductive system, including testicular cancer.
Male cats are neutered by means of castration, which means that the testes themselves are removed. While this obviously is a fairly big change, the surgery and implications for the cat are much lesser in male neutering than female spaying, and the operation itself usually takes well under ten minutes from start to finish.
Once the cat has come around from their anaesthetic, they are usually not even aware of the change, and will return to normal pretty much the same day, to the point that many male cat owners find themselves faced with the challenge of trying to curtail their cat’s jumping and energy levels for a few days afterwards, as their cats are so unphased!
Traditionally, male cats were neutered between the ages of six to eight months old, and it was not considered appropriate for them to be neutered before this time, due to concerns that they were potentially too small, or not fully developed.
However, the six month of age figure for neutering did not come about for any particular reason, as unlike dogs, male cats do not need to reach this age in order to begin the necessary hormone production to enable growth and development.
As soon as your cat’s testes have both descended and are palpable, usually around the size of two peas, male cats can be neutered, and today, the vast majority of veterinary clinics will perform neutering on male cats from the age of four months old, or to put it another way, within a couple of weeks of the cat having had the second of their two-stage initial vaccinations.
This has proven to be a good thing in particular for kittens in rehoming shelters, as it means that the shelter can guarantee that the kitten is neutered without having to rely upon the new owners doing this later on, and that the kittens can go to their new homes already neutered whilst still at the small, cute stage of development!
Male cats can of course be castrated as adults, assuming that they are in good health and that there are no problems, and if you own or adopt an unneutered adult male cat, there is no time that is generally considered too late to have them castrated.
However, learned behaviours such as roaming and urine marking may still occur in cats that are castrated when older, and so ideally, your male cat should be neutered as soon as your vet agrees that this is appropriate, usually between four and six months of age.