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Spaying and neutering guide for cats

Spaying and neutering guide for cats

Neutering your cat can prevent unexpected litters, while also providing health benefits for your feline companion.   

The British Veterinary Association (BVA) and leading UK animal charities also recommend spaying and neutering to help reduce the number of stray and abandoned cats without a home. 

Tom Harrison
Content writer
minute read
posted 27 SEPTEMBER 2019

What is neutering in cats?

Neutering is a routine surgical procedure to remove a cat’s reproductive organs. The operation is performed under general anaesthetic.

When a male cat is castrated, his testicles are removed. The operation usually takes about 10 minutes, followed by 2-3 days recovery time at home.

When a female cat is spayed, her ovaries and uterus are removed. The operation usually takes about an hour, followed by 10 days recovery time indoors at home.

Your cat might have to wear a cone-shaped collar to prevent it interfering with the stitches. You may find you need to go back to your vet to get the stiches removed, or they may be dissolvable. Your vet will advise you what is needed.

Why should I get my cat neutered?

Neutering your cat saves you from having to deal with an unexpected litter of kittens. Female cats have an enormous capacity for reproducing and can become pregnant all year long. Research suggests 85% of litters are unplanned.

If you have cats at home that are related, they should be neutered. Un-neutered cats can reproduce with each other, even if they're brothers and sisters or parents and offspring.

What are the benefits of neutering my cat?

Neutering can have health and behavioural benefits. 

Spaying benefits for female cats include:

  • Prevention of womb, ovarian and mammary cancers
  • Prevention of pyometra - a life-threatening womb infection
  • A reduced risk of fighting or attracting un-castrated ‘tom’ cats
  • It will stop your cat coming into heat, which can cause stress and hormonal mood changes.

Castration benefits for male cats include:

  • Prevention of FIV, the feline version of HIV, spread through bites from other cats, often males fighting over a female
  • Prevention of testicular cancer and greatly reduced risk of prostate cancer
  • It’s less likely your cat will roam and risk being hit by a car
  • Your cat is less likely to be caught up in fights with other males
  • It can reduce unpleasant ‘tom’ cat behaviour, such as aggression, urine spraying and wailing
  • Your cat’s urine won’t smell as strong as that of an un-neutered ‘tom’ cat

If you want to know if neutering is right for your cat or you need more information about the pros and cons, then your vet should be able to answer any questions you have.

Are there disadvantages to neutering my cat?

Neutering can increase the chances of your cat becoming overweight in later life. This can be controlled with a healthy diet and ensuring your cat has plenty of opportunity to spend time outdoors, climbing trees, or playing indoors.

When should I get my cat neutered?

The British Veterinary Association recommends that cats should be neutered at 16 weeks old. In some cases, such as rescue kittens, it may be necessary to neuter them earlier - from 8 to 12 weeks.

How much will it cost to get my cat neutered?

The average cost for spaying a female cat depends on where you live, but ranges from around £50 to £100. The average cost for castrating a male cat can be around £40 to £80. Your vet should give you a quote before the operation and it can be worth phoning a few vets to compare prices.

Cats Protection is a charity that offers a means-tested neutering scheme to help eligible owners with the cost of neutering their cats. To find out if you qualify for the scheme, you can call Cats Protection neutering helpline on 03000 12 12 12.

Does pet insurance cover neutering?

Pet insurance won’t cover the cost of routine neutering. However, it could help to protect you against the cost of vet fees and treatments if your cat is injured or becomes ill.  

You can get pet insurance whether your cat has been neutered or not. Compare pet insurance for your cat and see if you can save.

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