Sterilization of cats – a tough moral choice for their owners, often long and painfully weighing the cat neutering pros and cons, while the animal is tormented by unrealized sexual instincts, shielded from the world by “caring owners”. In fact, in the civilized world, the answer to this question has long been found, and veterinarians’ position is almost unambiguous, so Hamlet “to be or not to be” is entirely inappropriate here.
- Brief description and purpose of the procedure
- Does your cat really need it?
- Required age
- Sterilization process
- Cat care after surgery
- Cat neutering: what is next?
- Cat neutering at home
Brief description and purpose of the procedure
What is neutering
Veterinarians and felinologists call sterilization a surgical operation due to which the animal’s reproductive organs are removed, and then it becomes unable to produce offspring.
In addition to the primary, purely physiological function, the operation leads to certain (also desirable for humans) changes in the emotional state of the animal: it becomes calmer, loses active interest in the opposite sex and, accordingly, all the behavioral features that are associated with it and follow from it.
The term “sterilization”, in principle, is correctly applied to animals of both sexes, but it is often used when it comes to cats. For cats, there is a unique, not very sounding for our ears word “castration”.
If we go deeper into the problem, sterilization and castration are still a few different operations applied to animals of both sexes (in other words, both cat and cat can be sterilized and neutered). In the case of a cat, the difference between these two procedures is that only the animal’s ovaries are removed in the first case. In the second case, the uterus is completely removed.
Currently, veterinary practice is based on the preference of the second option, arguing that it makes no sense to leave in the body of an animal a completely healthy, lively, blood-supplied organ, which, however, does not perform any functional load but is quite susceptible to various serious diseases, including cancer.
From this point of view, doctors assume that “no organ, no problem”. However, from an ethical point of view, this position is arguable. Once again, when making the final decision, consult a good veterinarian, weigh everything pro et contra, and make your choice consciously.
As for the cat, sterilization involves only the physical deprivation of the animal’s ability to become a father by tying the seed fluid moves’ ropes. At the same time, castration is the complete removal of the testicles through a unique incision.
In this case, if with cats there may still be a dilemma as to which method is more humane, then with cats, the question is not so, because the sterilized (not neutered) cat retains absolutely all the behavioral features of an ordinary animal (including anxiety, the habit of marking the territory, fights with competitors, etc.), except the ability to fertilize a female. Therefore, it is almost always neutered, not sterilized.
Does your cat really need it?
In most developed countries, neutering cats is considered ordinary and necessary (along with regular vaccination) for any pet, except for those used in professional breeding and regularly receive their sexual needs under the control of their owners.
This procedure is also carried out for stray animals, which, on the one hand, allows limiting the indiscriminate increase in their population, and on the other hand, minimizes the aggression of such animals against humans.
There is often a biased attitude to sterilization, including those pet owners who are clearly not ready to engage in breeding, ductile, caring for kittens, and the arrangement of their future lives.
Surprisingly, but thoughtlessly, to feed an unhappy animal with hormonal drugs that suppress sexual desire, or indifferently listen to its nauseating screams such people do not consider inhumane.
Discussing the unnaturalness of sterilization, we often forget that a pet kept in a closed apartment is isolated from its congeners and unable to “arrange its own life” and provide for it on its own is unnatural in itself.
The intake of hormones to suppress sexual function and unrealized sexuality is very harmful not only for the psyche but also for the cat’s physiological state. In particular, a significant increase in the risk of cancer of the mammary glands, ovaries, and uterus, not to mention various purulent inflammation of such organs, has been proven. As for cats, for them, abstinence of physiological danger does not bring only psychological discomfort.
Also, unrealized sexual function in cats can lead to more and more leaks. The “armor-piercing” injection, as a result of which the cat does not leak for six months, is relatively safe in a single version, but given that with reasonable care, domestic cats live for twenty years or more – think for yourself whether such injections are humane and, most importantly, the “natural” solution to the problem.
Before we finally formulate the advantages and disadvantages of the operation, let us focus on the three most common myths voiced by its opponents.
Sterilization is unnatural, and anything abnormal is harmful to health.
In fact, this problem has more to do with philosophy than with medicine. What should be considered the norm? When people from caves moved to cities, was it natural, that is, natural? We can only guess how cats live in the wild because we have deprived the animals of their natural conditions. But something is still apparent.
Did you know? In the wild, a cat’s life expectancy is, on average, not more than six years, and a street stray cat can consider itself longevity at this age. Pets live three times longer.
A stray cat usually gives birth to five or more kittens, with no more than half of them survive. In professional breeding of pedigree animals, the loss of even one kitten is an unpleasant exception.
Thus, strictly speaking, living in natural conditions for cats is much more “harmful” than in domestic conditions. What is more realistic – well-groomed and eaten sterilized cat or hungry scabby kitten, which squeaks in a dumpster in twenty-degree frost – everyone decides for himself.
For the health of a cat, you need to give birth at least once.
This is just a myth. In fact, births are not necessary for the health of a cat. It’s nothing more than the instinct of nature, essential to ensure that the delivery does not die out. Moreover, it is even useful not to give birth to an animal (if it is sterilized, rather than suffering from unrealized calls).
Important: According to the data obtained from many years of observation by veterinarians, the average life expectancy of sterilized cats is two years longer than that of non-operated cats.
The touching care that a mother cat shows for her cubs, known to many cats owners, and the anxiety experienced by animals when children are excommunicated, have nothing to do with the joy of motherhood and longing for separation. This is just the implementation of a natural program: for the cubs to survive, they need third-party care and mothers’ milk for some time. The joys of sex, most likely, animals are also unknown.
Did you know? Scientists have been fighting for many years in search of an answer to the question of whether such a concept as orgasm is known to anyone on the planet, except humans. And we must admit that this mystery has not yet been solved. American psychologists William Lemmon and Mel Allen have noticed signs of sexual arousal in monkeys. After years of studying birds, the British Tim Beerhead was able to note something similar to orgasm only in the red-billed weaver. In short, there is a suspicion that the vast majority of animals do not experience orgasm when mating, which means that sterilization does not deprive the cat of natural pleasure.
An unfortunate animal becomes not a result of sterilization, but in the absence of realization of instincts. Remove your instincts – and your household will find peace and harmony with yourself!
And another purely physiological argument against single motherhood before sterilization. Sexual hormones, which are accompanied by a change in cat behavior, are initially produced in the ovaries and nowhere else.
However, after delivery, the cat’s body begins to produce the appropriate estrogens with various internal secretion organs. In this case, sterilization, which concerns only the ovaries and uterus, can preserve specific “residual” manifestations of sexual activity, sometimes for a very long time.
Therefore, although possible, sterilization of a born cat is sometimes less effective in terms of the complete elimination of “sexual anxiety” in an animal. With cats, by the way, the situation is entirely similar.
Are the sterilized cats thick and lazy? There is a certain amount of truth in this, although the risk group has more cats than cats. But this problem is much easier to solve and requires less effort than endless empty leaks or hormonal injections.
- The animal does not suffer several times a year on its own and does not harass its owners with endless, unceasing shouts
- It is unnecessary to buy “light” drops or “heavy” injections every time and give them to the kitty.
- The risk of malignant neoplasms and purulent infections of reproductive organs is minimized (such troubles threaten birth cats, but even more so animals that have been weaned from the opposite sex and not sterilized).
- There is no risk that your girl will “bring in the hem”, and you will have to feverishly solve the problem of finding a home for numerous offspring, or worse, as it was done by our ancestors, far from prejudices – to drown poor babies in a bucket of water.
Another advantage of sterilization is the improved character of the animal. In idea, it should become calmer and more gentle. However, we still take this point out of the general list, as there can be no guarantees.
The same caveat should be made for neutered cats: contrary to expectations, the operation does not guarantee that the cat will not tag and restlessly look outside as March approaches. But the scale of the problem still has to decrease.
- No matter how standard the sterilization procedure is, it is nevertheless a dangerous surgical procedure both in itself and because of anesthesia, which is inevitable.
- Rehabilitation in an animal (especially for a female) may take several days, and all this time, you may experience severe psychological difficulties seeing your pet suffer “through your fault”.
- Do not forget also that there are many cat diseases that can complicate recovery after surgery
But any consequences after the operation (provided that it was done by a professional) still pass quickly, the animal recovers and “forgives” your injury. Nevertheless, you can enjoy each other for many years and not feel discomfort from your pet’s “African passions”.
So, for those who are not going to be engaged in professional kitten breeding at home, and a fluffy animal is planning to start, the question of neutering cats should arise only in terms of when it is better to do the operation, and not to do it at all.
At what age is the best time to sterilize a cat is not by any means idle. Most veterinarians strongly recommend doing this at the moment when the cat is almost finished puberty, but still before the first leak.
Usually, it is about half a year old or a little older. It is believed that this age is optimal to minimize the risks of breast cancer.
Important! Statistically speaking, breast cancer in old age occurs in cats sterilized before the first leak only in one out of a hundred. If you perform the operation after the first leak, the risk increases seven times, and even later – twenty-five times!
Thus, the statement that a cat must give birth at least once before being sterilized has nothing to do with reality. However, this does not mean that this operation is associated with some increased risks for a born animal.
If you have decided to stop giving birth to your pet for one reason or another, you can easily arrange an appropriate operation for her, and everything will go no worse than a six-month-old kitten. Still, there is an upper age limit when you can sterilize the cat: animals over seven years of age are advised not to perform this operation without a particular need, it can be dangerous.
Important: cats do not have menopause, so the decision to perform the surgery should be made in time, so as not to put the animal at unnecessary risk and to save him and himself from possible problems.
It is also often a question of how many months it is possible to sterilize the cat, at least, in other words, whether the operation is allowed for a kitten. Here, the opinion is mixed. Many professional breeders practice early sterilization, literally from the age of one and a half to two months, and even among veterinarians, there are adherents of this approach.
It is motivated by the fact that kittens can tolerate the operation and other arguments are given. Opponents of early sterilization do not unreasonably believe that in this case, the whole process of animal formation is disturbed, which can lead to unpredictable disorders both from the mental and physiological point of view.
For the sake of justice, there is no official confirmation of such negative consequences of sterilization of unformed kittens to date. Still, the research conducted in this area can not be considered sufficient.
Some vets recommend that owners wait for the cat’s first leak to make sure that the animal is fully formed and only then come to the procedure. Therefore, it is better to wait for the leak.
In this regard, it is necessary to answer an equally frequent question: whether a cat can be sterilized during a leak. Contrary to common misconceptions, there is no immediate ban on such a procedure, just a weakened and stressed animal is worse able to tolerate anesthesia and subsequent rehabilitation.
Therefore, it is a common rule to perform sterilization when at least two weeks have passed since the leak.
Exceptions are made only when, as a result of a hormonal failure or other problems, the cat is flowing almost continuously, and two weeks is really impossible to endure. In such a situation, sterilization during a leak is definitely less evil.
Another question that often arises is whether a pregnant cat can be sterilized. Again, strange as it may seem, the answer is yes! Another thing is that such an operation is usually performed when the animal’s life is in real danger.
If the cat is healthy and has already got pregnant, allow it to give birth and feed it usually, and only then, when the mammary glands of the animal are entirely normal, sterilize it. Otherwise, (not to mention the moral side of the issue) removal of the pregnant uterus is associated with the risk of high blood loss and challenging rehabilitation.
When deciding on an operation, it is vital to know, at least in general terms, what is waiting for your pet and how to make it as discreet as possible.
The procedure does not require any special preparation, but you still have to do some things. The first point is vaccination. The mandatory vaccination to the animal should be done well in advance, mainly if you will perform the clinic’s operation, not at home.
The inevitable contact of the weakened after surgery and anesthesia with other animals visiting the clinic (usually due to specific problems, some of which are easily spread by airborne droplets) is an additional risk.
Important: Run the vaccination so that at least two months pass between it and sterilization. Keep in mind that the globulin injection offered by some veterinarians during sterilization, which supposedly provides short-term protection to the animal from the primary pathogens, is much less effective than the usual standard, timely vaccination!
As for the operation itself, it is important to perform it on an empty stomach. Otherwise, under the influence of anesthesia, the animal may vomit, very dangerous when the cat consciousness is stupefied with anesthesia. Thus, when inhaling the vomiting masses, pneumonia, called aspiration pneumonia, occurs.
Forced fasting should last at least half a day before the operation. This, in fact, is the whole preparation.
Laparoscopy is a modern and high-tech surgery method, when, indeed, through small punctures can be removed all the organs of interest to the surgeon. Not every clinic has the necessary equipment at its disposal, and not all cat owners can afford such luxury.
It is worth noting that it is the last thing to advise the surgeon on how best to perform the operation. If you consider yourself a specialist and have clearly defined which method is best suited to your favorite – look for a clinic specializing in it. The operation’s main success is still the hands of the surgeon, not high technology, let alone the patient’s opinion.
Cat care after surgery
After the operation, the cat definitely needs care and increased attention. Plan your time so that you can watch your pet at least for a couple of days after you come back from the clinic. Do not disturb the animal with noise and active games.
Important! The first time after the operation, the animal will look very weak and completely broken. It is also possible to show a certain “resentment” to the owner, who suddenly made a cripple out of a healthy animal. Do not worry and be patient. This condition will last only a few days.
Also, in the first hours after the operation, a cat may see the eyes’ cornea dry up (the fact is that, unlike humans, cats are under anesthesia with open eyes).
Therefore, it is worth saving your pet from bright light and, if necessary, to touch its eyes with the so-called “artificial tear” (sold in pharmacy or optics and used, in particular, for wearing contact lenses). By the way, ask the doctor if the cat will wet its eyes during the operation to make it easier after leaving anesthesia.
However, special attention should certainly be paid to the seams. First of all, you should not let the cat lick the cut’s place because, with its rough tongue, it will cut the wound to blood. Purchase it from the clinic or veterinary pharmacy or make your own special bandage to protect the suture from contact with the cat’s tongue and infection.
To avoid rotting the sutures, you should regularly treat with hydrogen peroxide, “Chlorhexidine,” or other similar preparations. But if you see that the cut’s place is dry and clean, leave the animal alone and do not expose him to unnecessary stress!
Important! Slight swelling around the suture is a normal reaction of the body; everything will pass by itself in a couple of days!
For preventive purposes, after the operation, the animal is injected with antibiotics. During the first two days, the protection will be provided by a mandatory injection made in the clinic; ask for a second injection to be given to you (it can be delivered right in the syringe). If you have never had a shot, you will get a master class from a doctor, because it is merely not constructive to bring a specially operated animal to the clinic for a single injection.
Cat neutering: what is next?
The surgical intervention, as such, takes no more than a quarter of an hour, and the rehabilitation period – a few days. And then what?
If you did everything on time and correctly, you will not notice any negative changes in your pet’s condition or behavior. They say that sterilized cats become fat and lazy, but “after” does not mean “result”.
If you brought in a three-month-old kitten who showed clear signs of hyperactivity and became more mature towards the age of one year, rest assured that neutering has nothing to do with it, just that your pet has matured.
In this regard, a lot depends on your pet’s breed, personality, and living conditions. For example, a sterilized Abyssinian or Bengali cat, all things being equal, will be more active than a Persian cat that has not undergone such surgery.
A cat living in a house full of children and other animals is less likely to be lazy and fat even after sterilization than a lone cat, which is closed from morning to evening in the house of eternally missing owners and screaming from unrealized sexual activity.
So if you don’t want to have a silent pillow instead of a cat, choose a suitable breed and pay attention to your pet instead of refusing to have it sterilized.
Also, today’s pet stores can easily pick up specially designed cat food for sterilized animals. You can easily adjust the possible unwanted weight gain of your ear if this happens.
Another proven method is not to overfeed your cat. Calculate the portion of food not based on “how much the cat will eat”, but on real needs.
Changes in behavior in sterilized cats are still not fully understood. If you are assured in the veterinary clinic that a less aggressive girl after the sterilization will be a tender and purring lump, and the cat will stop marking all the apartment corners, do not take it seriously. Here – fifty on fifty. But still, the probability that the animal will become more balanced is relatively high.
Cat neutering at home
How safe is it?
Another dilemma that often occurs is where to perform the procedure. Indeed, today many veterinary clinics and individual specialists offer the service of home visits, including for surgical intervention.
Both options have their advantages and disadvantages, so the choice is yours.
Sterilization in the clinic is definitely safer, mainly since it is associated with general anesthesia, which can be dangerous for animals. From this point of view, in case of any complications, it will be easier to provide qualified care in a clinic where there are support staff, narrow specialists (the same anesthesiologist), necessary equipment, and medicines.
In addition, only a professional clinic can provide perfect sterility. It is much harder to achieve this effect at home.
A special plus is postoperative care, which is provided by professionals. Some clinics have their own hospital, where an animal can undergo rehabilitation under adequate supervision.
How convenient is it?
It is even better if the clinic provides the service of a postoperative inpatient clinic. Then your pet will be under the care of specialists during the whole crisis period. Of course, emergency measures are not always required.
- It is much more convenient to call a doctor at home
- everything will go away before your eyes, and you will not have to wait for a long time for the animal to come out of anesthesia (or come for it a second time at the end of the day as it is often practiced).
- If your cat has not been vaccinated, her forced contact with the street and other animals is theoretically fraught with infection (on the other hand, timely vaccination is the duty of a conscientious host)
- for an animal, a trip to the clinic is additional stress, while at home, as they say, “and the walls help”: the cock will probably not even realize that something happened to it until it recovers after the operation. Even now, she will realize herself in a familiar environment, which is the best medicine.
So the choice is yours, but if you decide to do the procedure at home, ensure the following conditions are met:
- The doctor who will come to see you must have adequate experience (preferable references from your acquaintances) and everything necessary to perform a quality operation.
- make sure that the doctor has an agreement with the clinic, which will be ready to accept him together with the animal at any time if an emergency situation arises. It is good to have such a clinic nearby.
- Do not let go of a specialist until you are sure that the animal has regained consciousness and is feeling satisfactory
- check with the doctor all the rules of animal care and find a person among the household who can provide such care (if everyone is working – do the surgery on the eve of the weekend, when at least two days you will be near).
Having studied all the arguments, we hope you will make the right decision and provide yourself with many years of positive emotions from communicating with the most mysterious and graceful creature ever domesticated – a cat.
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