Cat owners may be put off having their felines neutered because of persistent myths about the procedure, despite a wealth of evidence proving its benefits.
In an attempt to reassure owners that neutering is safe, simple - and actually makes cats healthier - Cats Protection has compiled a list of neutering facts.
It follows a recent survey by Cats Protection and Dogs Trust which showed that only nine per cent of adults questioned realised that neutering was good for an animal’s health.
The myths include:
Myth 1: Female cats should be allowed to have ‘just one litter’ before they are spayed
FACT: There is absolutely no evidence to support this theory. Many owners think it is cruel to deny cats the chance to reproduce, but actually cats have no concept of ‘broodiness’ or have any emotional need to be a parent. On the contrary, female cats who are allowed to become pregnant do so very young - sometimes as young as six months - and before they are physically mature. This can result in complications which may endanger the life of the cat and/or the kittens.
Myth 2: It is cruel to neuter a cat
FACT: Neutering is a straight-forward procedure that is carried out under general anaesthetic by a veterinary surgeon. Although there is a risk with any operation, neutering carries a very small risk and most cats recover very quickly from this surgery.
Myth 3: Neutering is unhealthy
FACT: Evidence shows that neutered cats lead happier, healthier and safer lives. In female cats, if they are spayed before they have their first season, it reduces the chances of mammary tumours by 97%. It also takes away the risks involved in pregnancy and giving birth, particularly in small or physically immature cats.
In male cats, neutering significantly decreases their tendency to wander off in search of a mate, lowering the potential to get lost or involved in a road accident. Neutered cats are less likely to fight with other males, which can cause painful wounds and abscesses or transmit diseases such as FIV or feline leukaemia. Neutering will diminish the risk of testicular cancer in male cats and womb infections in females. The unpleasant habit of spraying is also more common in unneutered cats - who produce a much more pungent urine.
Myth 4: Neutering makes cats fat
FACT: Whilst it is true that neutering causes a hormonal change which may make the cat more susceptible to put on weight, there is no reason why a cat which is fed a well-balanced diet should be fat.
Myth 5: Neutering is expensive
FACT: Considering the life-long benefits for your cat of neutering, the procedure is relatively cheap. Owners should expect to pay between £45 - £60 for a female cat and £25 - £40 for a male. Cats Protection offer financial assistance with the cost of neutering for anyone on a limited income. For more information, contact Cats Protection’s Helpline on 08702 099 099.
Myth 6: Neutering changes a catís character
FACT: Neutering only changes behaviour related to reproduction - habits which are often unpleasant or inconvenient for the owner. In males, this includes fighting, spraying urine or wandering off. Neutering will stop female cats from ‘calling’ when they are in heat, which can be very noisy, particularly in oriental breeds such as the Siamese.
Maggie Smith, Head of Veterinary Services for Cats Protection, said: ‘Neutering is essential in controlling the feline population.
Every year, Cats Protection rehomes 60,000 unwanted or abandoned cats but with every cat we rehome, there are two others waiting to come into our care. Cats are prolific breeders and, with one unneutered female capable of being responsible for 20,000 descendants in five years, it’s easy to see how the problem can escalate.’
To find out more about neutering and general cat care, please contact Cats Protection’s Helpline on 08702 099 099.