Due to our wholehearted support of neutering, we naturally get asked a lot of questions about it!

We hope that this FAQ can answer some of your queries and concerns about the process and also explain how it benefits your cat.

Click on a question below to expand it.

What is neutering?

Neutering is a surgical procedure carried out under anaesthetic. In a male cat, both testes are removed from small incisions made in the scrotum. In females, the uterus and ovaries are removed via an incision either on the left side or underneath.

When can a female cat start reproducing?

Puberty usually occurs at around five to eight months in cats, although it can happen as early as four months depending on the breed of cat. We recommend neutering both male and female cats from an early age. However, it is important to note that the vet responsible for your cat will specify when they are prepared to carry out the neutering operation - usually at around four months of age. Your vet will consider each case on its own merits. Cats Protection’s current policy is to neuter pet cats from four months and ferals from weaning age.

Can you tell me about early neutering?

Early neutering is proven to be a safe and effective method, avoiding many of the potential complications of neutering later in life.

There is no evidence to show that it inhibits growth, or causes urinary problems, and experience show kittens resume their normal activities and routines after surgery much more quickly than adult cats.

Cats Protection now provides an early neutering register so that you can find an early neutering vet in your area - Click here

How can I tell if my kitten is male or female?

To tell if your kitten is male or female, you will need to lift the tail and look at the back end. Both sexes will have two holes but on a female the holes will be fairly close together, whereas on a male there will be a space where the testicles will develop.

What is the process for neutering?

You’ll need to book an initial appointment for the operation. Vets may require the cat to be brought for a pre-anaesthetic check before the day of the operation. The cat will normally be admitted between 8am-10am in the morning and able to be picked up that evening and will need to have been kept indoors without food for some of the night before. Your vet will advise.

WIll the neutering process hurt my cat?

Modern anaesthetics and pain relief mean that the process is really painless these days. Many vets also operate using a tiny incision on the left side of the cat, reducing pain in comparison to the equivalent procedure in dogs or humans. Vets will also give the cats pain relief injections covering the period after surgery. If you are unsure, please speak with your vet.

What aftercare will the cat need?

The vet will probably advise you to keep the cat indoors for a few days after surgery. It may need to wear a buster collar,a plastic lampshade shape collar to stop it chewing its stitches. Stitches may need removing after seven or 10 days, or may be dissolvable. Male cats have no sutures and are normally able to go outdoors again within two days of surgery. In the longer term, cats will have a lower energy requirement and so will need less food.

How will my cat benefit?

The cat will be less likely to wander, stray, call (if female), spray (if male). The chance of contracting some infectious cat diseases will be reduced, as will the likelihood of developing mammary tumours (breast cancers), pyometra (life threatening womb infections), testicular cancer, and many other illnesses. Male cats in particular will improve in physical body condition and their urine will smell less pungent!

Will the cat get fat?

Neutered cats need less food after surgery, so you will need to reduce their daily food intake after they are neutered. Neutering in itself doesn’t make cats fat.

I or someone else I know has a lot of cats we need help with neutering. Can CP help?

CP can provide help with neutering cats in situations where there are many cats in a household. We take a non-judgemental approach, recognising that in these cases fast action is needed. To achieve success we are reliant on owners cooperating with us throughout the process.

We can sometimes take a third party referral, but can only act with the consent of an owner. We are not a law enforcing body nor do we have any legal powers, so can only act with an owner’s consent and collaboration.

Help is available through our branches, adoption centres and Helpline. Please contact 03000 12 12 12 for more information.

I need help with a feral colony. Can CP help with neutering?

Feral cats are those either born wild or that have lived so long away from humans that they can no longer be found new homes as pets. They are the same species as our pets and are equally protected in law.

An uncontrolled feral colony will grow quickly; the cats will be susceptible to disease and may also become a nuisance. Simply removing the cats is not a long-term solution, as a new colony will soon move in.

The best option, therefore, is to neuter all of the resident feral cats within as short a time frame as possible. Over a period of years this will reduce the size of the colony. A controlled, healthy and manageable colony will deter other ferals from moving in and will keep vermin levels down.

We may be able to help towards the cost of neutering a feral colony, provided that the cats are returned to their original site.

The contribution is for assistance with neutering costs only and must not be used for other veterinary treatment or euthanasia. Your application needs to be made in advance of any neutering taking place, as payment cannot be made after the event. Our local branches may be able to help both with costs and practical assistance - depending on their resources and volunteers. In areas where we do not have a branch we may be able to provide financial assistance.

For more information about help with feral neutering please phone our Helpline on 03000 12 12 12 and choose option 3 (lines open from 10am-4pm).

What behavioural signs does an unneutered tom display?

Unneutered toms tend to be larger and generally more confident than neutered males. They tend to maintain a large territory area, as they will cover a large area looking for females that are coming into season. Because it is so important for toms to maintain a large territory to reproduce, they are more likely to fight with other cats and leave urine spray marks inside or outside.

If you have a question that isn’t answered here, contact us on 03000 12 12 12. We’d love to hear from you.