As a cat owner, you know the drill about spaying and neutering your feline friends. It reduces the number of homeless cats and boosts adoption chances for cats in shelters. You've probably heard that spaying and neutering makes cats less aggressive. Except when it doesn't. So what is that about?
Lingering Sexual Hormones
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According to Dr. Nicholas Dodman, who teaches at Tufts University's veterinary school, one in 10 male cats still have low levels of testosterone in their bodies even after neutering. As a result, these cats continue to show sexually aggressive behavior, sometimes for years. It's not uncommon for cats to have some sex hormones in their bodies after spaying or neutering, but in most cases calmer behavior kicks in after a month or so.
Waiting Too Long To Spay
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Cats who are spayed or neutered after they have had their first heat cycle are more likely to continue acting aggressively after they have the procedure. Cats usually exhibit their first sexual behavior when they are 6 months old. If you wait until your cat is 1 or 2 years old to neuter him, he may continue to act like a randy male even after neutering.
Pain and Aftereffects of Anesthesia
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The aftereffects of the general anesthesia cats are given before being spayed or neutered can linger for up to 24 hours. Until then, your cat probably is feeling woozy, dizzy and out of sorts. As the anesthesia wears off, your cat may start to feel pain, too. All of this can make your cat snap, bite or act aggressive even if she normally isn't that way.
Intact Cats and Redirected Aggression
Redirected aggression is displaced anger. It happens when one cat becomes upset at another cat, or any animal, that he can't reach for some reason. If another cat happens along just at that moment, she becomes the scapegoat. Think of it as getting chewed out by your boss at work and then going home and picking a fight with your kids. This can happen any time with pets, but when two or more unaltered cats are living in the same household, it's double trouble.
- Veterinary Practice News: Sexual Aggression in Neutered Cats
- Tenth Life: Aggression Amongst Cats
- Cats International: The Benefits of Spaying or Neutering Your Cat
- ASPCA: Aggression in Cats
- PAWS: Aggression Between Cats and Feline Social Behavior
- Animal Humane Society: Aggression in Household Cats
- Elsevier Health: Effects of Neutering on Behavior
- Operation PETS: After Surgery - How To Help Your Pet Recover
Kathy Kattenburg has been a writer for more than 30 years. Her articles have been published in "N.J. Jewish News" and "Suburban Essex," and she is a contributing writer and full partner at Not the Singularity. Kattenburg has a BA in English literature from Drew University in Madison, New Jersey.