To castrate or neuter a male cat (a tom cat) is to surgically remove the testicles, also known as the testes, of the cat. This is a minor yet irreversible procedure, thus preventing the cat from ever producing any litters of kittens. Generally, tom cats are able to be castrated at any time following the age of six months depending on the breed. Owners usually castrate their cats in order to prevent unwanted litters of kittens, reduce certain undesirable behaviours, or prevent particular diseases.
At what age should a male cat be castrated?
After six months, the age of a cat when it is being castrated creates little or no difference on the surgical procedure. Preferably, the tom cat should be castrated before unwanted behaviour such as spraying occurs. There is always a small risk with operations such as castrations, due to the anaesthetic used, and this will be brought into consideration when operating on older cats. However, the risk is minimal and should not deter owners from having their pet neutered.
The cat is sedated before the operation can commence with an anaesthetic given intravenously following an injected pre-anaesthetic. The cat is laid on the surgical table and the surgical site scrubbed with disinfectant soap since hygiene is an important aspect of every operation. The anaesthetic used is general which means the cat will be unconscious during the operation though, due to the short length of time this takes, there is little or no danger to the cat as a result.
A small incision is made by the veterinary surgeon in front of the scrotum and through the fibrous tissue, in order to access the testicles. The blood vessels attaching the testicles are ligated and the testicles are removed one at a time. The incision is so small that sutures are rarely necessary and the cat may be returned home the same day.
Post op care
For two weeks after the operation, the castrated cat must remain indoors and prevented from any contact with other male cats in the area. Since cats are territorial, fights with other cats are common so these precautions will allow the wound to heal. Hygiene is especially crucial and a clean litter box must be available at all times. Licking the wound should be averted and so collars are available at the veterinary practice. The cat must also have the ability to access food and water at any time but if the cat has little or no appetite the day following the operation, a veterinary surgeon should be called for advice. This is also true if any redness or swelling is visible on the affected area. Care must be taken when lifting the cat and the wound should left alone and not touched.
Is there another way to sterilise my tomcat?
Another method of sterilising a tomcat, other than castrating, is called a vasectomy. This only prevents the cat from fathering kittens though it will still be able to involve itself in sexual intercourse. Territorial behaviour such as wandering, spraying and fighting will continue despite the vasectomy because this procedure does not lower the quantity of testosterone within the animal. Thus, most domestic cats are sterilised by castration and not by a vasectomy.
The castration of a male tom cat results in it “losing its personality”-
Following castration, male cats no longer feel they must fight for their territory. Without the stress of fighting, owners occasionally find that their male cats are friendlier. Overall, there is no real change in character due to the operation though if any, it is only ever positive.
The castration of a male tom cat will mean it will put on weight
Castrated male cats do not put on weight directly as a result of the operation. Due to a lack of territorial behaviour, the decreased anxiety levels can result in a possible increase in appetite. As long as the cat is fed a balanced diet and can exercise then, other than overfeeding, no weight gain should occur. Most responsible owners will be aware of this and will take it into account when feeding their castrated cats.
The cat will become depressed and anxious if it cannot have sex
Sex, for most animals including cats, is only an instinctual behaviour and is driven by hormones. With these hormones reduced or removed after the operation, the need for sexual activity will be eliminated. Thus, stress and anxiety levels will actually be lessened since the cat will not need to search for a mate. The castrate usually has a sweeter disposition while in this more relaxed state.
The operation is too expensive
For male cats, the fee for the operation is usually relatively low. However, if the owner cannot afford the price of castration, there are many animal charities and shelters offering to help out with the cost of neutering the pet. Veterinary practices are aware of the charities and can give out the information to any owners requesting their help.