Expected changes in cat behavior after spaying or neutering

Cat behavior can change dramatically after spaying or neutering surgery. There are plenty of reasons to spay or neuter your cat; an ability to avoid pregnancy and to control the population of unwanted pets are the most obvious ones. At the same time, for house cat owners, maybe the most valuable are the changes in their pet’s behavior.

Grey kitten with cone collar after surgery.
Spayed and neutered cats tend to be less aggressive.

Regardless of your cat’s gender, most pets become less active, friendlier, want to play more and tolerate handling better. However, the most noticeable behavior changes happen in male cats. This is because most of their sexual behaviors are initiated by testosterone. What’s that? Testosterone is a hormone produced primarily in your male cats testes. Once your cat loses his testes, the testosterone level also drops.

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Do cats get nicer after neutering?

So, after neutering your male cat, you may see a decrease in sexually related behaviors. For example, urine marking (spraying), aggression towards other male cats and wanting to wander the neighborhood. Since urine marking is the most disliked behavior by male cat owners, most of them neuter their pets exclusively for this reason.

In some cases, a male cat may still spray after the surgery. Likely explanation is that the spraying has become a habit or that his hormones need more time to downregulate. While, in the latter case, the solution is to wait a little more, the first one requires additional training. You can learn more about why cats still spray after surgery here.

Female cat behavior after spaying

Female cats also show significant behavior changes after spaying. The biggest thing is that they stop coming into heat. This reduces most of the behaviors associated with the heat cycle. For example, after spaying cat behavior like excessive vocalization, being overly affectionate, and roaming behaviors stop. Spayed cats won’t be looking for a mate. Her focus on reproduction will disappear as her hormones won’t be driving her behavior.

Many a pet owner use hormone therapy to stop their unspayed cats from coming in heat. However, if if you intend to medicate your cat on a long run, we highly recommend spaying instead. The reason is that there are are potential adverse effects of hormone therapy. The benefits of the spay surgery go beyond the changes like reduced or eliminated aggressive behavior. She will be less likely to have ovarian tissue issues, breast cancer, and a uterine infection. She will also likely live longer.

You’ll want to monitor your cat behavior after spaying. That’s because the cat spaying surgery itself can be a confusing experience for a kitten or young cat. Your spayed cat will likely bounce back to normal after a few days with love and care. Your cat may be a bit guarded after her surgery which is a common behavior change. This should pass as she heals.

How to avoid unwanted kittens

Not only does neutering and spaying reduce unwanted behavior in our pets, it also has a side benefit. That’s right, you won’t have an unwanted litter. Yes, the main reason for neuter surgery and spaying surgery is to diminish aggressive behaviors shown by both genders. But not having unwanted cats is a good thing. The Human Society and other animal shelters are overrun with cats and dogs. By spaying and neutering your cats, even if you have an indoor cat, it’s better for them. These surgeries make your cats act less like sexually driven beings. It’s not your cat’s fault, their hormones drive them crazy when they reach sexual maturity.

When we have a patient that is a new cat owner, we consult with them on spaying or neutering their kitten. Often, they can’t decide whether to get a male or a female cat. We consult with them on the safety of the surgery, post operative care, and the benefits to their pet. This surgery is very common and it is not a do or die decision. Unless they plan on breeding their cat, we cannot recommend spaying or neutering their cat. Most of our patients owners do spay or neuter their pet.

In any case, it is a good idea to spay or neuter your pet cat. Especially if you are not planning to breed them. The benefits of the procedure way outweigh the risks. Besides, changes in the behavior after spaying or neutering a cat are dramatic.

When can I spay or neuter my cat?

Generally, we spay or neuter most pet cats at around the five to six month of age range. Often we will wait to spay a female cat until after her first heat. The best advice is to consult with your veterinarian when on your first visit with your new kitten. Your veterinarian will examine your cat. They can walk you through the surgical procedure, incision post operative care, and how to care for their skin stitches.

For example, your neutered cat will have his testes removed so keeping him from licking the area can be accomplished with a cone. Your female cat will have an incision which will you’ll want to keep her away from as well.

In the long run, your cat will be healthier and happier after being spayed or neutered. And a happy pet is what we are all after right?

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