Should I spay or neuter my cat?

If you're getting a kitten, one of the most important things you'll need to organise is for them to go to the vet to be neutered. This is a simple operation known as 'spaying' for female cats and 'the snip' for male cats. Here's more about why neutering is important and what's involved.

Getting your female cat spayed

According to the PDSA's 2017 PAW report, just 30 per cent of litters of kittens in the UK are planned!

To stop your female cat from having kittens, she'll need to have a simple operation known as 'spaying' before she turns four months old. This is also known as 'fixing', 'neutering' or 'being done.'

Kittens can get pregnant while they are still kittens themselves - they can begin to give off signals to male cats that they are ready to mate from when they are about four months of age. (Be warned - whilst it's not nice to think about, kittens who are brother and sister are not exempt from this behaviour and will mate with each other).

Therefore, when your cat is about four months old, she'll start to attract the attention of tomcats, who'll want to mate with her and so the risk of unplanned pregnancy starts very early on. This is why it's important to have her spayed before she reaches four months, so she doesn't get pregnant while she's still a kitten herself.

Although the age to spay a female cat has traditionally been six months, an increasing number of vets now spay at four months. Details of veterinary practices who will neuter your cat at four months old can be found on the KiND website.

You may have heard that it's good for female cats to have a litter of kittens before they are spayed, but this isn't true. Once she's been spayed, your kitten will be able to do all the things cats enjoy doing, like going outdoors, climbing trees and playing.

Getting your boy cat snipped

If you have a male cat, he'll need to have a simple operation called 'the snip'. This can stop him from spraying in your house to mark his territory, which can be very smelly, and getting nasty injuries from fights. He's also less likely to wander off and get run over, as cats who've been snipped tend to stay closer to home.

What's more, having your cat snipped will protect him from a nasty disease called FIV, which is the cat version of HIV. It's spread through cat bites, often between males fighting over a female. It can't be caught by people.

What's involved in the neutering operation?

Your cat will need to be dropped off at the vets and picked up again later that same day.
The operation is very simple and your cat will be given an anaesthetic. Once they're back home, they'll need to stay in for a short time (your vet will tell you how long), but they'll soon be fit and well again.

Need help with the cost?

If you receive benefits, you may be able to get some help with the cost of having your cat neutered, so contact your local RSPCA branch to find out. Other charities, such as Cats Protection, may also be able to help.

Four simple steps to protect your kitten

We advise four simple steps to ensure that kittens are given the best chance of keeping in tip top health and protected from nasty diseases:

  • At eight weeks:
    Register your new kitten with a vet as soon as possible - give them a call and book them in for a checkup and vaccinations. Find a vet today.
  • At nine weeks:
    First vaccinations - to protect them from infections and diseases. At the same time, your vet will give your kitten a health check - your vet will let you know which treatment for flea and worms is best for your kitten.
  • At three months:
    Second vaccinations - to boost their immune system as they get ready to explore life outdoors.
  • At four months:
    Spayed or snipped - to protect girls from getting pregnant and boys to prevent them from roaming which can help reduce the risk of being hit by a car.  And have them microchipped - to make sure your kitten has the best chance of coming home to you.

Getting ready to go outdoors

Once your kitten has been wormed and deflead, vaccinated, spayed or snipped and microchipped, they'll be ready to start exploring the outdoors.

Start with short periods outside at first, during the day, while you are supervising, slowly increasing the time as your kitten gains more confidence. Make sure your kitten can easily get back inside at any time and that your garden is free from hazards.

Don't rush to let them outdoors at night - that can wait until they're a bit older, more confident and able to find their way back home to you with ease.

Read more: Further advice to help you care for your kitten.

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