There's lot of good reasons for neutering male cats and few, if any, bad ones. Worrying that Kitty might suffer a urinary blockage if he's neutered is not one of them. Only a small percentage of cats ever get urinary blockages. Learn the ways to help prevent this problem.
Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease
While male cats do suffer from feline lower urinary tract disease, or FLUTD, more often than female cats, it's still not a high percentage. According to Vetinfo, only about 5 percent of cats suffer from a urinary tract infection during their lifetimes, and most don't become blocked. DVM 360 states that approximately 12 percent of cats with FLUTD experience blockages. These occur when crystals or stones formed in the bladder plug the urethra. Any type of FLUTD requires immediate veterinary attention, but blockage is a true red-alert emergency. If Kitty isn't treated, he can die within days.
In the past, male cats were generally neutered at the age of six months or older, when they reached sexual maturity or "kitty adolescence." In recent years, more veterinarians and spay/neuter facilities are performing surgeries on kittens ages two months and up. There was concern from some quarters that early neutering might result in a reduced size for the male's urethra, making blockages more common in cats neutered as kittens. That doesn't seem to happen. According to the Cat Fanciers' Association, "Concerns that development of the urinary tract might be arrested or impaired by early spaying and neutering proved unsupported."
Cats experiencing FLUTD climb in and out of the litter box, struggling to pee. Kitty might emit painful-sounding meows and lick his genital area to ease discomfort. Sometimes, cats with FLUTD throw up, stop eating or even collapse. Even if he is passing small amounts of urine, get him to the vet as soon as possible.
Your vet diagnoses a urinary blockage by a physical examination and X-rays of Kitty's bladder area. In many cases, she can get a catheter up his urethra to relieve the blockage and allow him to urinate. Many cats who block once will do it again. For repeat blockers, your vet might perform a perineal urethrostomy, a surgery that removes some of Kitty's penis and urethra, so what remains is a wider opening for urine to pass. This is pretty serious surgery, usually only considered if Kitty constantly experiences obstructions.
There are measures you can take to keep FLUTD or a blockage from ever happening to Kitty. Ask your vet about a feline diet that prevents crystals or stones from forming. Many commercial urinary tract diets are available. Make sure Kitty always has access to fresh, clean water. Keep his litter box very clean. If you have more than one cat, a general rule of thumb is one litter box for each cat. Since stress might play a role in FLUTD, keep Kitty to as strict a daily routine as you can manage, keeping the home environment as calm as possible.
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.