Most pet owners are aware that pets should be neutered, but only some know all the reasons why neutering is beneficial, particularly in male cats. There is some confusion with the terms castration, spaying and neutering. Castration is the surgical removal of the testicles, while spaying is the surgical removal of the uterus and ovaries. The term neutering can refer to either sex.
Male cats are castrated for many reasons. Intact male cats tend to fight one another in order to defend their territory and to secure the opportunity to mate with a female in heat. Fighting can lead to scratch and bite wounds which often become infected, leading to abscesses. Castration is 85 per cent effective in reducing or stopping fighting.
Neutered cats do not have strong territorial instincts and thus make better pets. Conversely, unneutered male cats tend to roam great distances, coming home only to eat and sleep. This roaming increases the chances of being hit by a car or getting into fights. Castration is 90 per cent effective in reducing roaming.
Neutering is beneficial for reasons other than health. Intact male cats mark their territory by spraying a strong-smelling urine on objects such as drapes, furniture and carpeting. Besides being unsanitary, the urine odour and stains are extremely difficult to remove. Castration is 90 per cent effective in stopping urine spraying and also reduces the strong, unpleasant odour of male cat urine.
Intact male cats tend to be poor groomers, causing them to become matted and scruffy-looking. On the other hand, neutered male cats tend to pay more attention to themselves and keep themselves clean.
Neutering does not make cats fat and lazy, or change their personality, and they do not hunt or play any less than unneutered males. Contrary to previously held theories, castration is also not a significant contributing factor in the development of urinary tract problems in cats, particularly one called “Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease” (FLUTD). Many factors seem to contribute to these urinary tract problems rather than a single one.
Finally, there are some very solid environmental and humane reasons for neutering male cats. Allowing a tomcat to mate at will contributes to the existing pet population problems and overburdens humane societies which must ultimately euthanise those animals for which no homes can be found.
For further discussion on the pros and cons of neutering your pet, consult your veterinarian.