FAQs on sterilising pet cats

Sterilising your cat; I have written a lot of about sterilisation and why cat owners should sterilise their cats, but a good message can never be too oft-repeated. Here is another post on sterilisation written in the form of FAQs.

How do I know my cat is ready to be sterilised?
The guideline is when your cat is six months old. Yes, it is still considered a kitten, but like humans, puberty is reached by cats when they are considered ‘teenagers’ – still young cats. For male kittens, the signs include: protruding testicles, spraying urine around the house, trying to run away. For female kittens: meowing loudly and continuously, bending into what is known as lordosis or the mating position – rear end up, tail to the side, hind legs ‘paddling’. Cats may come into sexual maturity even as early as four- or five-months old. Some cats take longer, up to eighteen-months old, but these are usually pedigrees such as the Siamese. To play it safe, sterilise at six-months old.

Will my cat’s health be affected negatively by sterilisation?
On the contrary, your cat will be healthier on the whole. No longer controlled by urges to mate, your cat will be less stressed and frustrated. Cats that run away to mate because they are not sterilised may contract sexually transmitted diseases such as FIV (the cat version of AIDS) of which there is no vaccine or cure. There is also no longer a risk of cancers and illnesses affecting reproductive organs in your cat. Sterilised cats are indeed prone to putting weight more easily as they no longer expend their energy trying to mate, so they will need to consume less food and exercise more. Sterilising your cat earlier than six months of age may slow down his physical development but it will not affect his health. It is safe for even a five-month old cat to be sterilised.

Should I allow my cat to give birth once first before sterilisation?
There is no scientific evidence to prove this is necessary. Unless you are able to provide (food, shelter, veterinary costs, sterilisation costs) for a litter of kittens – some cats give birth to extremely large litters like nine or ten at a go – do not allow your cat to breed.

Are there other alternatives to sterilisation?
There are no healthier alternatives to birth control in cats other than sterilisation. Some owners cage their cats up so they will not mate; this will frustrate your cat and negatively affect his overall well-being. Others control their cat’s reproductive cycles using contraceptives, which is not a healthy nor cost-effective long-term alternative.

How much will it cost me to sterilise my cat?
The cost of sterilisation – $75 for male, $100-$120 for female – should be factored into the costs of adopting a cat at the outset. Over the lifespan of a cat of say ten years, this cost is a one-time expenditure that will only cost you about $10 a year when averaged out. If you would like to lower your costs of neutering, take part in joint neutering schemes such as ours at Ubi Kuching Project when we announce our community cat neutering projects.

It feels cruel/sinful to sterilise my cat, making it go through pain and surgery!
Actually, it is more cruel when you cause kittens to be born and then abandoned. 24 hours of no-food-and-water is miniscule compared to the cruelty of creating kittens that cannot be cared for adequately. Even if you can let resulting kittens stay at your house, they may not receive adequate care and attention from you to live long healthy lives. Sending cats to SPCA may mean death for them. Likewise abandoning kittens that cannot be cared for is more cruel than subjecting your cat to surgery. Surgery is carried out using anaesthesia and your cat is also given antibiotics thereafter for his recovery so he does not actually feel that much pain at all.

I would like to have kittens, can I allow my cat to breed?
There are many kittens out there – just visit animal shelters or surf the internet – that need a loving home. If you have a passion for kittens, do consider adoption instead of breeding. Breeding cats for sale is also illegal without a proper license.

There are far too many stories of un-neutered cats in households, that started as a small family of say two or four cats, multiplying into households of twenty or thirty cats. Imagine 30 cats’ worth of poo in the house! Yes it has happened before and is still happening in households today. The consequences include:

  • Widespread disease among the cats – when one gets it, all get it
  • Lack of care, socialisation, medical attention for each cat
  • Kittens being attacked or eaten up (yes!) by other cats
  • Owners not being able to cope and sending their cats to SPCA at both a financial cost and the cost of cats’ lives when they are put to sleep
  • Genetic problems in the cats as all are inbred

These and of course the financial costs of caring for twenty to thirty cats. You have been forewarned – sterilise at 6 months old!

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