Neutering (castration) is a commonly performed procedure for kittens and cats that are at least 8 weeks old. The procedure for neutering a cat can be performed in a few different ways and involves removal of the testicles. This surgically sterilizes your cat so they cannot make kittens.
This guide will tell you everything about neutering a male cat and how to help your cat recover.
Best Age to Neuter a Cat to Avoid Complications
As your cat ages, their testicles form and will gradually descend to their scrotum, the sac of skin designed to hold and protect them. This process of the testicles moving down into the scrotum occurs between 3 to 6 weeks of age.
Kittens that are neutered between the ages of 8 weeks to 6 months will have fewer postoperative complications due to the size and development of the reproductive organs.
Recovery times will be shorter, and cats will have a lower chance of displaying secondary hormone behaviors that occur around 5-6 months of age, such as:
Attempting to escape for mating
Fighting with others
Talk to your vet about the right time to neuter your cat. The age of your cat when they undergo neutering surgery may change the surgery’s expectations and potential complications.
Cat Neuter Procedures and Recovery
The procedure for neutering your cat will depend on whether their testicles have descended into their scrotum.
Regardless of the procedure used, contact your veterinarian right away if your cat shows any of these signs after surgery:
Swelling, redness, discharge, or an opening in the incision
Challenges using the bathroom
Sudden changes in your cat’s behavior, such as sluggishness
Not urinating in the first 24 hours after surgery
Monitor your cat’s surgery site daily and contact your vet if you see any of these signs of infection: swelling, bleeding, discharge, or redness.
Give all medications prescribed by your veterinarian as instructed, including pain medications, even if your cat is acting normally. Your veterinarian will discuss any feeding changes that may be necessary after surgery.
Here’s an explanation of the two types of neuter procedures and more detailed aftercare instructions for each.
Cats With Both Testicles Descended
When both testicles have descended in the scrotum, your vet will make a standard scrotal incision, which is a small cut placed over the testicles. They will then either use a suture to tie off the blood vessels, or perform a surgical tie and take out each testicle.
In many cases, no sutures are placed over the incision. The incisions are either left open to heal on their own or closed with a small amount of tissue adhesive.
An E-collar or bodysuit will prevent your cat from grooming the incision. You will also need to monitor the incision multiple times a day for swelling, redness, and discharge.
If your cat engages in too much activity too soon after surgery, scrotal hematomas can form. Scrotal hematomas are caused when increased blood pressure to the tissues around the surgery site creates swelling, and the area fills with blood. Increased activity can also lead to infection and discharge.
Restrict your cat’s activity for at least the first 5-7 days after surgery to prevent stress or inflammation at the surgery site. Ask your vet for guidelines on activity restriction.
Cats With One or Two Retained Testicles
If your cat has one or two retained testicles (meaning that the testicles have not descended), a surgical incision may be made in multiple locations.
Sutures are often used to close the abdomen after the testicle(s) are removed. Non-dissolvable skin sutures will require removal in 10-14 days, while intradermal (inside of the skin) sutures will dissolve on their own with time.
An E-collar or recovery bodysuit may be used to prevent licking or chewing the incision after surgery. Sutures can become itchy to many cats following surgery, and even if your cat doesn’t start chewing at the incision right away, they may as time progresses.
Enforce any activity restrictions from your veterinarian to ensure proper healing.
How Long Does My Cat Have To Wear a Cone After Neutering?
Most cats should wear their cone for 5-7 days after neutering to avoid licking the incision. Most scrotal incisions heal very quickly. If an abdominal incision was necessary to remove retained testicle(s), then the cone should remain on for 10-14 days or until your cat’s recheck examination to assess healing.
How Long Does It Take for a Cat To Recover From Being Neutered?
For simple neuters, healing is usually 5-7 days. For abdominal surgery, healing is usually 10-14 days.
Do Male Cats Spray After Being Neutered?
Usually, if cats are neutered around the time they reach sexual maturity—between the ages of 5-6 months—they will not spray. Unfortunately, after 1 year of age, your cat will likely continue to spray due to testosterone levels in the body and chronic marking behavior.
The good news is once a cat is neutered at any age, this spraying behavior typically decreases significantly.
Can Cats Use the Litter Box After Being Neutered?
Yes. Sometimes litter can get stuck to the incision, so veterinarians will often recommend using torn newspaper in the litter box for 24 hours after surgery to avoid this.
A lower-sided litter box is usually not necessary, except when the regular litter box has very high sides and abdominal surgery was required to remove retained testicles. Then a lower-sided litter box is a great idea.
Can Cats Pee Normally After Being Neutered?
Your cat should be able to pee and poop after neuter surgery.
Not urinating during the first 24 hours after surgery can be a very serious complication and needs an immediate examination by your veterinarian.
What if My Cat Is Constipated After Neuter Surgery?
It is normal for cats to have some constipation after neuter surgery. Monitor the stool being passed, and if you notice 48-72 hours of no feces, contact your veterinarian, since dehydration and other factors may be at play.
Do not give over-the-counter laxatives, supplements, or enemas to cats. Many of these products are toxic and can cause serious and life-threatening side effects.
Featured image: iStock.com/koldunova
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