Myths & Facts About Neutering
Myth 1: If a Cat Marks its Territory, Neutering will Definitely Solve the Problem
Cats mark their territory for many reasons, including territorial issues, anxiety caused by the lack of attention, or simply because of pain. Any stress can cause this kind of behavior.
Neutering (castration) is effective only when marking is associated with the cat's sexual activity, with its desire to show off and find a partner.
Sometimes, cats mark their territory for several weeks and even months after castration, and only then their behavior changes for the better – this happens because the hormone levels do not suddenly drop after the surgery, but decrease smoothly, gradually reaching the optimal level. Do cats spray after castration? Definitely yes if it is not directly related to the breeding instinct. Castration is not a panacea!
Myth 2: After Castration, Cats Get Lazy, Lethargic, and Infantile
This myth is based on the fact that cats are most often castrated either in early adolescence (6–9 months) or in adulthood (6–8 years). As a kitten grows, it becomes less playful, and the owners associate the changes in its character with castration. The same thing applies to adult pets – cat becomes calmer, more balanced, and the owner thinks: "Here it is. I castrated him only a year ago, and he has turned into a lazy hound." In reality, it is a bit wrong to assume that castration can turn a playful cat into a “sleeping beauty”. A cat’s character depends on a huge number of factors, including:
- HNA type (choleric, sanguine, phlegmatic, melancholic);
- living conditions and much more.
Sometimes the owners confuse their pets’ playfulness with an increased activity caused by the excessive amount of sexual energy. Cats run all around the house in circles and jump on various objects not because they like it, but because they are driven by the breeding instinct. They literally do not know what to do with their energy.
After castration, a naturally calm animal will stop looking for a partner and will simply enjoy life, while a truly playful cat will remain so.
Myth 3: After Castration, the Cat will Inevitably Get Fat
When it comes to the growing number of pets (no matter if they are neutered or not) suffering from overweight, the ones to blame are the owners. We cannot make some time to play with our four-legged friends and then we try to make amends by offering them something delicious in exchange for lost communication. When problems start showing, we blame anyone but ourselves.
A castrated cat needs fewer calories than an uncastrated animal. However, the need for physical activity and communication remains the same. If you cut rations a little and regularly play with your pet, the excess weight will never become a problem for your cat.
Myth 4: Castrated Cats are More Likely to Suffer from Kidney Stones
Male cats are much more likely to suffer from kidney stones (urolithiasis) than female cats. The number of castrated male cats is higher than the one spayed female cats.
If you castrate a kitten at an early age (2-3 months), it is likely that the urethra will not develop well enough – it will be narrower than in an uncastrated or timely castrated cat (6-9 months).
The urethra of a male cat is longer and narrower than the one of a female cat. These facts are exactly what created this myth. In fact, castration does not cause the kidney stone disease. This condition develops because of other reasons, namely malnutrition, inadequate fluid intake, genetic predisposition, urinary tract infections, etc. Cats’ urolithiasis was thoroughly studied in the 1960s. The disease was widely spread even in those days, while the castration of domestic animals was, on the contrary, a rather rare phenomenon.
Myth 5: You Can’t Give Fish to Your Cat After Castration
Fish cannot be considered a natural cat food. In wildlife, only some species of felines (very distant relatives of domestic cats) have adapted to fishing. Fish got into the “menu” of today’s domestic cats primarily because it is cheap.
Too much fish in the diet can lead to a mineral imbalance (one of the causes of a kidney stone disease), vitamin deficiency, bleeding disorder, and other "pleasant" effects.
However, this applies not only to castrated cats but to the entire feline tribe. Are castrated cats allowed to eat fish? Yes, they are, because fish contains various useful substances, including omega-3 fatty acids. But they shouldn’t eat it more than once a week and it needs to be a boiled sea fish with no bones in it. Also, make sure you give your cat an adequate portion.
Myth 6: After Castration, Your Cat Will Stop Yowling, Scratching Furniture and Wallpapers etc.
In many situations, the misbehavior of cats is caused by the breeding instinct – your pet "sings" the night away, ruins furniture and clothes, attacks guests simply because it experiences stress caused by dissatisfaction. In such circumstances, castration may indeed become an effective way to eliminate the problem. However, sometimes, a castrated cat might yowl for days, bite people, scratch wallpapers and “misbehave” in every possible way even months after castration – in this case it is necessary to look for the real cause and identify the factor that makes your pet to behave like that (stress, illness, lack of attention, etc.)
Myth 7: Castrated Cats Lose the Urge to Mate
Does a neutered cat lose its sexual urges? No, if it already had one or more sexual experiences before the castration and if afterward it interacts with a cat that is ready for mating. Some breeders even keep such male cats as a “sedative” agent for their female cats during their sexual urges so there are no kittens to worry about.
If a male cat has never mated before the surgery, then it is unlikely that he will show any interest in the opposite sex.
If a male cat has mated before castration, but did not have any relations with female cats for several months afterward, then most likely he will not remember his past exploits.
If a castrated cat wants a female cat, perhaps it is because the castration itself was not so long ago (so the testosterone levels are still quite high) or because the pet had a lot of sexual experiences before (in this case, you need to limit its communication with female cats for some time, so that your pet has a chance to “forget” about his past adventures).
Myth 8: Castration Can Shorten a Cat’s Lifespan
Many cat owners are concerned about the lifespan of neutered cats. Many of those who oppose this procedure claim that castrated animals age faster, get sick more often and die much earlier than their non-castrated friends. However, veterinarians make the opposite claims: castration increases the life expectancy by an average of 3-5 years. Why?
- don’t get into fights over the territory or female cats;
- do not mate with stray cats that are 100% sick (feral cats always have a number of genital infections and are always infected with either worms or fleas or both);
- do not tend to get lost outdoors indefinitely. This way, the risk of the cat getting lost or ending up under the wheels of a car or in the mouth of an evil dog is minimized;
- do not suffer from constant hormonal "explosions";
- do not feel stressed because of not being able to fully satisfy their instincts;
- do not face the risk of developing cancer of the testes, prostate, suffer from prostatitis and many other diseases often found in un-neutered cats.
With other things being equal (feeding, housing, heredity, etc.), castrated cats live longer than their un-neutered fellows. Of course, we are not talking about cats raised for breeding as this is a completely different story.
Myth 9: Castrated Cats are Bad Hunters
False. Castrated cats catch mice no worse than their uncastrated fellows. Generally speaking, it is strange to think that the absence of testes can in any way affect a cat’s hunting instincts. After castration, a hunter cat will go on a hunt with the same pleasure as before (and maybe with even greater enthusiasm since it doesn’t have to spend time with its female friends anymore). But if you feed your cat to obesity, then yes - it will unlikely feel happy to go anywhere at all. It all depends on the owner - you can overfeed any animal if you want to.
Myth 10: Castration Leads to a Shortage of Sex Hormones Which Might Provoke Various Diseases
Sex hormones are produced not only by the testes, but also by the pituitary and adrenal glands – sometimes even in excessive amounts (when a castrated cat still shows interest in female cats). Therefore, there can be no talk of any shortage as a result of castration – it is simply impossible. Hormonal imbalance is a serious condition requiring help from a veterinarian, but castration is not the cause.
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