One of the responsibilities of owning a cat is ensuring that he or she is neutered or spayed. This is important to prevent an accidental litter of kittens, but also to protect the health of your pet!
For purebred cats, it’s part of a pet contract.
When you purchase a Bengal cat, it’s usually in the contract that you must spay or neuter the kitten before a certain age, if it has not already been done by the breeder before you bring the kitten home.
Most people assume this is to protect the breeder—if the buyer did not pay for breeding rights (often MUCH more expensive than pet price), they should not be allowed to breed their cat.
While the requirement to spay/neuter is, in part, to prevent an accidental litter of kittens, many pet owners are unaware that there are also very real health dangers to unaltered cats that will not be bred.
Spaying or neutering is also essential to your cat’s health and happiness!
Why it’s important to neuter your male kitten
1. Unfixed males spray, a lot
This isn’t news to most people… though you might not realize how bad it stinks! Once unfixed males reach sexual maturity, they will start to spray. This can start early, even as early as 6 months! You’ll want to spay your male kitten before this behavior starts.
2. Unfixed males are ruled by their hormones
Unfixed male cats have a strong drive to breed. Being your cuddly lap cat will not be their primary concern! They will want to roam in search of a mate. If your unfixed male manages to escape your home, he’ll likely get into fights with other males and could come home injured, or not at all.
Every male is different, but some unfixed males may be prone to aggression if they have no outlet for what nature is telling them to do. At the very least, they’ll be stressed.
Why it’s important to spay your female kitten
1. Heats are unpleasant to experience
An unfixed female will go into heat repeatedly until impregnated. Her heat could last 1-2 weeks, and sometimes there’s little to no break between heats. Depending on the time of year (season) and your temperature controlled, artificially lit home, she could be in heat almost constantly.
It’s very unpleasant to watch your poor girl roll around and scream incessantly in desperation to be bred. You’ll want to use earplugs for a couple of weeks and will want to do anything to make it stop. Many females spray just as much as males, too.
You’ll also have to guard the doors and windows, as she’ll be desperate to escape in order to find a male.
2. Unaltered female + no pregnancy = deadly infection
Every time a female cat goes into heat, her body is preparing itself for kittens. The uterus wall will thicken in preparation for pregnancy. If she’s not impregnated, the uterus becomes a breeding ground for bacteria, and can quickly turn into a life-threatening condition called pyometra, which is an infection of the uterus.
If it’s “open” pyometra (the cervix is open), you will see pus or discharge and should bring her to the vet immediately. They may be able to do an emergency spay and save her. But if it’s closed, the infection is trapped inside and you’ll have little to no warning. The uterus could rupture or the infection could spread throughout her body, and she could go from being fine to on death’s doorstep in a matter of days.
Any female cat who has experienced heats without becoming pregnant is at risk for pyometra, regardless of her age.
Don’t forget about cancer!
Neutering reduces the incidence of prostate cancer in males, eliminates the possibility of uterine or ovarian cancer in females, and greatly reduces the likeliness of breast cancer in females.
Unaltered cats need to be fixed or bred
By now you hopefully realize how important it is that your pet is altered, but you may still be feeling some common concerns…
“I don’t want to fix my cat because it’s not natural”
Actually, what’s not natural is keeping an intact cat as a pet, and then preventing him/her from breeding! It’s not fair to them, it’s not natural, and it’s dangerous to their health.
By removing the reproductive organs, you remove the need to reproduce. Your cat won’t have the desire and won’t know any differently.
“I don’t want to fix my cat because it could cause behavior change”
If you mean your cat is no longer going to be ruled by hormones, making your life miserable, you’re correct! 🙂
If you think your cat is going to get fat and lazy because they lost their reproductive organs, that’s not the case. Sure, they will not have the desire to roam for a mate all hours of the day and night, and may need a new method of exercise, but if you’re practicing portion control with feeding and regular play, weight won’t be an issue.
“I’m worried about the safety or expense of the procedure”
The surgery is minimally invasive for a male, and more invasive for a female. But it’s extremely common and routine, and only has to be done once. Complications are uncommon, but if you’re worried, do your research and find a vet you can trust to do an excellent job on the surgery. Then, follow their advice with post-care.
The expense? It’s part of owning a pet, and simply has to be done. If you want an inexpensive option, you can find a clinic to do it for you.
Thinking about having “just one litter”?
If you’re not a registered breeder who’s completed health testing of both parents and has rights to breed, you need to alter them.
This article was not written to encourage you to breed a cat that you’re hesitant to spay or neuter! This article was written to encourage you to spay/neuter per contract, in a timely manner. Besides breaking contract, being inexperienced and having a litter of kittens is not as easy or enjoyable as it may sound.
What would you do if your “just once” queen had trouble with delivery? If a kitten is stuck, or a placenta is not delivered, or the mother does not clean the baby and cut the cord, or if she shows zero interest in the kittens and leaves them to die? What if mom requires a C-section or develops an infection, leaving you with an expensive vet bill? What if you have to hand-rear the kittens, bottle feeding every 2 hours around the clock for 3 weeks? We’ve had all of these things happen! If you’re not a breeder and you have no male cat, please spay your female immediately and don’t consider breeding her “just once”.
By spaying and neutering, you completely eliminate the primal instinct to reproduce. An intact cat is going to be ruled by hormones that scream at them to reproduce, like nature intended. By spaying and neutering, they’re free to be your loving PET and their lives get a whole lot simpler!
Learn more about what’s commonly required in a Contract with your breeder.