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The Truth About Spaying or Neutering Your Cat

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Q: It can cost more than a $100 to get a cat spayed or neutered. I can’t afford that. What can I do?

A: There are a lot of low-cost options all over the country. ASPCA keeps a database of them on its web site. You can put in your zip code and find all of the options within a certain radius. Click on the "pet care" tab and look for the low-cost and free spay/neuter database.

Q: Don’t cats get fat once you spay or neuter them?

A: A healthy weight goes back to portion control and exercise. I recommend cats be kept indoors, so you should have enough environmental enrichment to keep your cat happy. Have vertical spaces and climbing trees. Provide places where they can hide and play. But portion control is the main thing. Don’t free feed your cat.

Q: Will my tomcat stop running away from home if I neuter him?

A: We don’t recommend having free-roaming cats. And if you have an unaltered male cat, you’re probably not seeing much of him anyway.

Usually, neutering a tom will curb its desire to roam, although cats are a little different than dogs and wander for reasons other than reproducing, such as hunting. So neutering will reduce the instinct to roam, but it won’t eliminate it.

Unaltered males also are more at risk for feline leukemia [FeLV] and FIV [feline immunodeficiency virus]. That’s because they fight, and deep bite wounds are the leading factor in the transmission of those diseases.

Q: My cat sprays all over my house. If I neuter him, will that stop?

A: More than likely it will. It will certainly take away that hormonal urge to spray. Neutering early is your best bet to avoid that urge altogether. If you have a neutered cat that is still spraying, you should see your veterinarian. It could be a behavioral issue, or it could be a health problem.

Q: Will spaying or neutering my cat prevent future illnesses?

A: You’ll have a lower incidence of mammary tumors. We see a lot of unspayed cats come into our clinic with pyometra -- an infection of the uterus -- which can be a life-threatening disease for them.

For male cats, you eliminate testicular diseases, and for females, you eliminate the risk of uterine diseases. Generally, spayed and neutered pets live longer, happier lives.

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Reviewed on April 21, 2012
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