Routine preventive care for your cat or kitten includes more than just parasite protection or vaccinations. It also includes sterilization. Our vets in Wake Forest talk about what to expect from your male cats before and after neutering and the signs of complications to watch for.
Why should you have your male cat neutered?
Each year there are roughly 3.2 million cats that enter US animal shelters according to the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals). While many of these cats are homeless or stray, you can help decrease the homeless cat population by neutering your male cats to prevent them from fathering unwanted babies.
Along with removing your cat's ability to reproduce, you could help to curb many undesirable cat behaviors as well as help to reduce the risk of your cat developing a number of serious health conditions.
What are some of the benefits of having your male cat neutered?
You may be unsure if having your cat fixed is the right decision for you. If your cat is not allowed outside then you may be even more unsure. Nonetheless, there are some very good reasons why your cat should be sterilized regardless of whether they spend their time indoors or outdoors:
- May Protect Against Disease: Fixing male cats eliminate the chances of testicular cancer and lower the risk of prostate problems. Generally, sterilized cats live healthier, longer, and happier lives.
- Often Curbs Undesirable Behaviors: Sterilized cats will be less likely to roam, yowl, wail, bite, display aggressive behavior, or spray or mark their territory. Intact males often escape to find females, putting them at risk of injury or fights with other males. Roaming can also expose your cat to dangerous diseases, including feline leukemia and feline immunodeficiency virus.
- Fight Overpopulation: There are an estimated 60 and 100 million homeless cats living in the U.S. - getting your male cat neutered can help control the cat overpopulation crisis.
- Can Be More Cost-Effective: Treating cancers of the reproductive system, caring for newborn kittens, and veterinary care for injuries sustained through cat fights can be costly. Neutering can help to reduce these costs.
- A More Contented Cat: It is believed that fixed cats live longer because they are less likely to wander away from home, become involved in road accidents and fight with other male cats.
What can you expect following your cat's neutering surgery?
You are bound to feel anxious leading up to and following your cat's surgery, but knowing how to provide your cat with the care and attention they need will help your kitty get back to their regular self as quickly as possible.
After your cat's surgery, your veterinarian will provide you with detailed instructions about how to care for your kitty and recover at home. You must follow these instructions carefully. If there are any steps you are unsure about, be sure to follow up with your vet for clarification. If you return home and realize you've forgotten some aspect of your cat's aftercare, don't hesitate to call and clarify.
What are the side effects of general anesthesia in cats?
We use general anesthetics during our surgical procedures in order to render your cat unconscious and to prevent them from feeling any pain during the operation. However, it can take some time for the effects to wear off after the procedure is completed.
Effects of general anesthetic may include temporary sleepiness or shakiness on their feet. These after-effects are quite normal and should fade with rest. A temporary lack of appetite is also quite common in cats who are recovering from the effects of general anesthesia.
What will your cat require during their recovery?
Typically when a male cat is neutered the testicles are removed in order to prevent the production of sperm. This means that they will no longer be able to father kittens.
Following these surgeries, your pet will need a little extra love and attention to ensure that they recover well.
Proper Care of the Incision Site
It is very important to prevent your cat from licking or chewing at their incision site. Your vet may recommend an e-collar or recovery suit (surgical onesie) to block your cat from being able to reach the area.
The incision site on male cats will consist of two small incisions on either side of the scrotum.
It is important to check your cat's incision site daily. There should be no sign of redness or oozing, and swelling should be minimal. In some cases, males may appear as if they still have testicles. This swelling is normal and should gradually reduce throughout the recovery period.
If you are concerned that your cat may be showing various signs of complications then you should contact your vet as soon as possible.
Removal or Monitoring of the Sutures
Your cat will most likely have internal sutures that are absorbable, with the outer layer of skin held together with water-soluble surgical glue. Do not wash the area, or apply any ointments. Follow the post-op instructions provided by your vet.
If your cat happens to have external sutures or staples they will need to be removed at the end of the recovery period. It's a good idea to book your pet's follow-up appointment when you pick them up on surgery day.
Restricted Activity Following Surgery
Every cat is different and some are more energetic than others, nonetheless, as challenging as it may be it's important to limit your cat's activity for about 14 days following their surgery.
Stretching and strenuous activity could cause the wound to open, disrupting the healing process and possibly leading to infection. This means that you should keep your cat indoors throughout recovery and you should not allow them to run, jump or play.
Baths are also not allowed during this 14-day recovery period.
Adjusting Feedings For Smaller Portions
Your animal will be given general anesthesia as part of the surgical process. When your cat first comes out of surgery the after-effects of general anesthesia can leave them feeling a little nauseous and lethargic. Expect your male cat to gradually recover their normal appetite about 24 hours after surgery. Begin by offering smaller portions at first before moving to full-size meals.
If after 24 hours your cat is still lethargic or has symptoms such as vomiting or diarrhea, call your vet immediately.
The Common Signs of Infection or Complications
While neutering surgery is a standard and relatively safe procedure there are rare cases of complications occurring. Some symptoms that you should monitor closely are:
- Lethargy more than 24 hours post-op
- Discharge or bleeding from the incision site
- Pale gums
- Trouble urinating
- Heavy breathing, panting
- Open incision site
- Cat sitting or laying in an unusual position
- Restless behavior
- Shaking or trembling
- Constant or repeated whining
- Relentless attempts to lick or chew incision site
- Hiding or other unusual behavior
Is there a certain timeframe for recovery after neuter surgery for cats?
Every cat is a little different and your cat's recovery time will depend upon a number of factors including their age, size, and overall health.
Generally, your cat will be okay to resume their normal activities after about two weeks of recovery time. Your vet may recommend a follow-up appointment before allowing your animal to resume strenuous activity.
Be sure to follow the post-op instructions provided by your vet and contact your veterinary clinic right away if your cat is taking longer than expected to recover from their surgery.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.