Wednesday, 30th May 2012
Neutering your cat
Neutering of cats is one of the most frequently performed surgeries carried out in companion animal veterinary practices such as ours. Both male and female procedures are routinely done under general anaesthetic on an out-patient basis with no overnight stay required. Neutering is 100% successful in its primary aim, sterilisation of cats, thus preventing the birth of unwanted kittens. It also has additional benefits for health and curbing undesirable behaviour, leading to happier, healthier pets.
The operation on the female cat is called "spaying" and it permanently stops the reproductive cycle. Kittens reach sexual maturity when quite young, usually between the age of 6 to 9 months, and are then capable of breeding successfully.
In the past, there has been a common misconception that all female cats (and dogs!) should be allowed to have one litter. This is totally unnecessary and is of no benefit to the cat. The optimum time for spaying is around 5-6 months of age before the female cat reaches puberty. If the female is not spayed, she will go into "heat" (oestrous) every 14-21 days unless she mates with a male cat. During "heat", the urge to attract males is very strong, and the female will show unusual behaviour changes such as "calling", persistent, plaintive vocalisation, rubbing herself against objects, wanting to go outdoors all the time and adopting mating postures.
The health benefits of spaying include significant reduction in the incidence of mammary cancer, prevention of ovarian/uterine cancer and pyometra, which is a life-threatening infection of the womb. There is also the prevention of complications during pregnancy and labour.
Neutering of male cats also prevents unwanted pregnancies by making the male sterile. Its other benefits include a reduction in male dominant and territorial aggression, as unneutered (entire) males are known to fight aggressively, running the risk of serious infection, abscesses, and the transmission of viral diseases such as feline leukaemia, FIV, panleucopenia to name just a few. Neutered males are less likely to stray away from home, and much less likely to spray urine if allowed inside the home. Spraying is associated with entire males "marking" their territory. Research has shown that neutered males are more hygienic to keep, much friendlier towards other cats, tolerate handling better, give more affection and are more playful than their entire counterparts. Neutering also helps prevent testicular cancer, prostate gland disease and anal/rectal tumours.
Neutering, because it involves a general anaesthetic, is only carried out after the vet has given the cat a thorough health check to ensure it is a suitable candidate for surgery. The effect of neutering is the same no matter what age the cat is and can be done on females that have had kittens as soon as they are weaned.
Letters to the Editor
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Once in a blue moon. As rare as hen's teeth. A Government success. Each of those three sentences are as unusual and as rare as each other. But the last one seems to be about to take place. The Government has announced that it plans to give each child in the State a second year of free pre-school. It might not sound like earth shattering news but if it does happen then it could be one of the most significant things that this Government has done since it took office. Any money that is given over to education is a …
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