5 Top Questions About Spaying or Neutering Your Kitten

Photo of Karen Dell

Karen Dell

Senior Editor • Backyard Cat Enclosures

08 August 2019

Spaying or neutering your kitten can be a scary step to take — especially if it’s your first cat. There are many questions, but also myths, surrounding the desexing of kittens. Here are the answers to just a few of the questions.

Do kittens change after being spayed or neutered?

No, your kitten’s personality won’t change when they are sterilised. However, spaying and neutering does reduce anti-social and territorial behaviours. This is a positive change not only for the owner (as neutered male cats won’t spray and there won’t be any unwanted litters), but also for the cat itself.
As your kitten grows into adulthood, they won’t have seasons, will not be able to become pregnant, and, in the case of males, won’t be as territorial and won’t fight in the way unsterilised males do. Keep in mind that kittens as young as 5 months may reach sexual maturity. It is therefore a good idea to get them desexed by the age of 4 months.
If you are unsure whether your kitten is old enough (or healthy enough in some cases) to be sterilised, speak to your vet as they will be able to advise you on the best time to get the operation done.

What are the benefits of spaying or neutering your kitten?

Besides curbing anti-social and territorial behaviour, you will also not have to worry about keeping your cat(s) happy indoors or in their backyard cat enclosure. Most important, though, is that your male cat won’t be attacked by free-roaming cats that may carry any number of feline diseases. Many of these diseases can be fatal.
Your female cat also won’t be mated with another cat and you won’t have unwanted litters on your hands that you need to find good homes for. Female cats have 2-3 seasons a year, with 2-5 kittens per litter. That means she could have over 200 000 descendants in only five years!
Female cats also run the risk of developing Pyometra — infection of the womb — later in life if they are not spayed. They could also suffer from mammary tumours.

How are female kittens spayed?

To sterilise a female kitten, the kitten will be given general anaesthetic and an incision made on their flank or belly after a patch of fur has been shaved. The ovaries and uterus is removed through this incision.
Your kitten will usually return home the same day that the operation takes place. The incision’s stitches can be removed after 7-10 days. Your vet will then also check that the incision has healed properly.
Letting a female cat have one litter before being spayed is of no benefit to the cat. It’s actually a better idea to spay them before they reach sexual maturity as they will begin to come into season if they reach sexual maturity. During this season, cycles of sexual activity will occur every 2-3 weeks. As the cats literally “call” while they’re on heat, this can become very noisy!

How are male kittens neutered?

The castration operation also includes giving the kitten a general anaesthetic before making small incisions in the scrotum. The testes are then removed through the incisions. Usually your kitten will be able to go home the same day that the operation takes place. Because the incisions for castration is so small, sutures are usually not even required.
Castrating or neutering a male kitten will also not only prevent unwanted pregnancies, but will curb their tendency to be aggressive towards other males and to mark their territory — including indoors — by spraying urine. Other toms who roam around can also come to your yard (or even into your home!) to fight with your kitten over territory.  
As you can imagine, male cats’ anti-social or aggressive behaviour puts them at high risk of fighting with another cat and, through bite wounds, getting an infectious disease like Feline AIDS or the Feline Leukemia Virus.

How to care for your kitten after spaying or neutering them

The good news is that complications after spaying or neutering seldom happens. Caring for your kitten after their operation is also quite easy and straightforward.
You’ll see that your kitten recovers from their sterilisation operation very quickly. They will most likely be drowsy and a bit uncoordinated for a few hours because of the general anaesthetic, but are back to their normal, playful selves the next day already.
Because your female kitten will get stitches after the operation, be sure to keep her from being too active and also from biting at or scratching the stitches. If you’re having a lot of problems with her not leaving the cut and stitches alone, you can get a dressing or collar from the vet to keep them from doing so.
Rather keep your kitten indoors for a few days after the operation in order for the wounds to heal. But, don’t worry, after two or three days they can be back in their backyard enclosure to play to their heart’s content!
Other than that you can just keep an eye on the incisions as they heal and make sure that there are no signs of infection. If you see that they are infected or if your kitten seems to stay “sleepy” and don’t return to their old selves in a day or so, take them back to the vet for a check-up.
After seven to ten days, you should also remember to take your female kitten back to the vet to have the stitches removed.

Photo: Max Siegel, Burst Stockphotos


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