Cats are incredible breeders. They can start breeding as young as six months old, and as female cats can come into season two or three times a year, with about four kittens a litter, that is a lot of potential kittens running around.
De-sexing is a surgical procedure performed by a vet and is permanent and irreversible. In female cats, de-sexing involves the removal of the uterus and ovaries. In male cats the testes are removed. For females the operation is considered major surgery and your kitten will need to be hospitalised. Male de-sexing isn’t as major, and your cat will usually be discharged on the same day.
De-sexing is best done when the cat is still a kitten, and for female cats is ideally done before they come into their first heat cycle.
While de-sexing obviously prevents unwanted pregnancy, it also has other benefits. Female cats on heat become very rowdy and attract tom cats. De-sexing stops this behaviour, but there also medical advantages in that de-sexing reduces the risk of mammary tumours and uterus infections in female cats.
In males, de-sexing will reduce aggressive behaviour. Tom cats that are not de-sexed will be attracted to female cats on heat and often fight with other tom cats, marking their territory as they go. They will often travel great distances looking for in-season females, which puts them at risk of injuries and accidents, such as getting hit by cars.
De-sexing your new kitten is one of the most important decisions you will make as a new cat owner. So what can you expect?
Your vet will talk you through the procedure and give advice on how you can prepare your kitten for surgery. Once your kitten is discharged from hospital you will need to keep her in the home while she heals. It’s a good idea to take some time to stay with your pet, so you can ensure she stays calm and doesn’t jump about, as this can cause damage to her fresh wound. You might have to administer pain relief and you’ll need to take her back to the vet a week or so after the operation for a check-up.
As with any surgical procedure, there can be complications and risks involved, which your vet will talk you through. These complications are rare, however. But chat to your vet and don’t be afraid to ask questions if you are concerned.