Effects of Neutering an Older Cat

Cats neutered as adults may continue to spray and roam.

Cats neutered as adults may continue to spray and roam.

Your cat is never too old to fix. In fact, many health benefits are associated with neutering, so it can prevent problems for aging felines. Kitties are usually neutered young, when their bodies are healthiest and strongest; but older cats generally handle the procedure fine.

Reduced Territorial Behavior

Spraying alone motivates many people to have their pets neutered, because feline spray smells awful and is difficult to clean up. Male cats tend to roam, fight and lay down urine markings more than females, but cats of either gender can engage in these unfortunate activities. Neutering your cat young can prevent him from starting these behaviors altogether. Fixing an older cat has a 90 percent chance of reducing them, according to Mar Vista Animal Medical Center.

Other Behavioral Changes

Don't worry about your cat becoming lazy, fat or boring after the neuter operation. The procedure alone does not cause these side effects, although it does reduce your pet's motivation to exercise. While roughly one in four cat owners believe neutering their cat made him more complacent, most cats don't show a noticeable personality change after the operation, according to the University of California–Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. Younger cats are back to their normal selves in a matter of days, but older cats may take a bit longer to adjust. If your cat has spent years with all his pieces intact, it could take a few weeks or months for him to get used to life with fewer hormones.

Health Risks

Neutering is an invasive operation, so some health risks are associated with the procedure. Risks are greater for females than for males, because the surgeon must open an 2- to 3-inch incision in her belly. As your get cats older, his immune system gradually loses strength, so there is a small chance the incision will get infected. Young cats heal faster and tend to have stronger immune systems. Older cats are also more likely to have existing health problems, which can complicate the surgery. Your cat will be lethargic when you first bring him home from his operation and he may refuse food for a while. This is normal and should last only a day or two.

When to Neuter

While neutering is standard practice at animal shelters and adoption centers, some felines are left intact for breeding. Kitties should be bred as soon as they are no longer being bred, or when their peak reproductive health is over, which occurs at around age 7 or 8, according to Max's House. Cats can be neutered at only a few months old, although you can put the operation off until about 5 or 6 months of age without problems.

 

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About the Author

Quentin Coleman has written for various publications, including All Pet News and Safe to Work Australia. He spent more tan 10 years nursing kittens, treating sick animals and domesticating semi-feral cats for a local animal shelter. He graduated from the University of Delaware with a bachelor's degree in journalism.

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