According to Humane Canada, approximately 40% of the cats taken into shelters each year are strays. While many of these cats are eventually adopted, not all of them are so lucky.
So, if you’re wondering whether it's worthwhile to spay or neuter your cat, the answer is yes. Not only will spaying and neutering pets prevent unwanted pregnancies and limit the number of cats on the streets, but it also offers benefits beyond population control.
Sterilized cats are less prone to certain illnesses, lose undesirable behaviour traits, and live longer on average than unaltered cats. Don’t we all want a few more years with our best furry friends?
Here are some compelling reasons why you should spay or neuter your cat.
Spraying is how cats mark their territory, and, unfortunately, some don’t feel shy about doing so indoors. Both male and female cats may spray, but the act is most common among unaltered male cats. Spaying or neutering your cat will help reduce their tendency to leave these messages throughout your home. Neutering will also change the odour of a male cat’s urine, making it less pungent.
Reduces aggression toward other cats
Spaying or neutering your cat shouldn’t affect their personality, but it will reduce their urge to get into fights, especially between male cats. Aggression between cats is often related to territorial or sexual competition and is fueled by testosterone. Once neutered, a male cat’s testosterone levels will be lower, and he’ll be less compelled to compete for a mate or territory.
Less fighting means fewer injuries and infected wounds, and it reduces your cat’s risk of contracting diseases like feline leukemia and feline AIDS, commonly spread through bites from infected cats.
Limits your cat’s compulsion to roam
Much of a cat’s inclination to roam is rooted in the hormones that drive them to go out seeking a mate. Since spaying and neutering reduce the production of testosterone and other reproductive hormones, it will limit your cat’s tendency to roam. Staying closer to home will reduce your cat’s exposure to hazards like traffic, predators, and toxins, keeping them much safer.
Protects your cat from certain health issues
Spaying or neutering your cat will reduce or eliminate their likelihood of experiencing several different types of health problems.
In female cats, spaying eliminates the risk of mammary gland tumours as well as ovarian and uterine cancers because the ovaries and uterus will be removed. In male cats, removing their testicles eliminates the risk of testicular cancer.
Spayed/neutered pets live longer
A study by Banfield Pet Hospitals found that cats that have been spayed or neutered live significantly longer than those that remain unaltered. Spayed female cats were found to live an average of 39% longer than unaltered females, while neutered males lived 62% longer than unaltered males.
Sterilized cats are less likely to fight or roam long distances, significantly reducing their chances of injury. Combined with the fact that spaying and neutering eliminate the risk of certain cancers and it’s easy to see how this practice can substantially extend your pet’s life.
The Bottom Line
Spaying or neutering your cat is the best way to prevent unintended pregnancies and keep unwanted kittens out of the shelters and off the street. As a bonus, it can reduce some of your cat’s unwanted behaviours and add years to their life!
The exact effect a spay or neuter will have on your cat’s personality depends on the individual cat and the age at which they undergo the procedure. For instance, male cats neutered during adulthood may retain some tendencies (such as the urge to roam) because the habits are ingrained, whereas a kitten may lose these urges completely.
If you’re on the fence about whether to spay or neuter your cat, speak with your veterinarian for guidance. They’ll be able to answer any questions you have and help you determine the best time to move forward with the procedure.