Cats and dogs are loving pets that provide companionship and affection to many people across Australia. Tragically however, each year, RSPCA shelters take in around 160,000 animals nationally, many of which are the result of unplanned breeding. Desexing is an effective strategy to prevent these unwanted pregnancies.
Aside from preventing accidental litters, there are many health and behavioural benefits to desexing.
- Desexed animals are generally less likely to get diseases and certain illnesses such as mammary cancer and uterine infections in females and prostate problems in males.
- Desexing commonly reduces behaviour problems such as roaming, aggression and urine marking in males.
- In females it prevents mating behaviour and false pregnancy. Reducing the desire to roam also reduces the risk of being in a traumatic accident such as being hit by a car.
Why should I desex my cat?
Desexing is a surgical procedure, performed by a registered vet under general anaesthesia. For female cats this involves removing their ovaries and the uterus (an ovariohysterectomy) through a small incision in the belly. She will need to be kept quiet and monitored while the wound heals, and will usually be allowed to get back into her regular routine 2 weeks after surgery.
For a male cat desexing involves removing both testes through a small skin incision. There are usually no stitches required and the healing period is often faster.
We recommend desexing cats at around 5-6 months old. At this age they should not have reached maturity, but they are well grown and at less risk of anaesthetic complications.
There are many benefits to desexing your cat, these include:
- Reducing the risk of ovarian, testicular and mammary cancer
- Avoiding unwanted kittens. A female cat will reach maturity at around 6-9 months of age and can have 3 litters per year (with 6-12 kittens per litter). When she reaches maturity she can be quite unsettled and difficult to keep confined, accidental litters of kittens are very common.
- Reduces fighting. As a male cat reaches maturity he will start to roam further from home to enlarge his territory. This will result in more interactions with other cats and more fighting.
- Reduce the risk of Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV). This is similar to HIV in humans (though it cannot be spread from cat to human). The virus affects the cat’s immune system making them very susceptible to diseases. FIV is spread from cat to cat through saliva in cat fights. We have tested and confirmed FIV is common in cats on the Mornington Peninsula.
- Reduce spraying. It is natural for undesexed males to mark their territory by spraying very pungent urine. It is a very difficult smell to get out of carpets, curtains and furniture. Desexing males before they reach maturity is the best way to ensure they do not learn this bad habit. Please note that there are other reasons a cat may urinate around the house. If this is happening we recommend you have your cat examined by a veterinarian to check for illness.