Sterilisation is widely recognised as beneficial for feline health, in fact it can actually double a cats life expectancy. It is now thought to be a responsible action for most pet owners. More than 90% of cats in the UK are sterilised and while the procedure has many benefits, it also results in physiological changes which need to be addressed through diet.
Cats reach sexual maturity as early as around five months of age and an unsterilised female cat can have two or three litters a year (that’s a lot of kittens needing good homes!). Owners should be made aware that the idea that a female cat should have at least one litter before sterilisation is a myth. Sterilisation also reduces the risk of accident and disease. Sterilised cats wonder less so road accidents may become less likely, and wounds or abscesses caused by fighting with other cats are much less common in sterilised cats.
This characteristic also significantly reduces the risk of infectious diseases such as Feline Immunodeficiency Virus, for which there is no vaccine and the Feline Leukaemia Virus, both spread through close contact and fighting and are extremely prevalent in unsterilised cats.
Spaying a female cat removes the risk of infections and tumours in the uterus. If the testicles are retained in the abdomen of a male cat they are at hight risk of developing tumours, so castration is always advised. Sharing your home with unsterilised cats is not always fun! Females come into season regularly attracting unsterilised males from the neighbourhood. Males will often stray and display high territorial behaviour such as spraying urine in the home. Sterilisation tends to result in a calmer and more a affectionate pet that’s easier to live with.
Cats are usually sterilised from five to six months of age, when they reach sexual maturity, although earlier sterilisation is possible. The procedure is performed under general anaesthetic and is known as spay in females and castration in males.
Females are spayed through an incision into the abdomen, either on the side or the tummy, with the uterus and both ovaries removed the incision is closed with stitches.
In males, castration usually involves both testicles being removed through small incisions in the scrotum which are left to heal on their own.
Sterilisation is a relatively short procedure and cats usually recover quickly from the anaesthetic. Most can go home on the same day. Follow ups are required to check the wound healing, check that no further pain relief is required and if necessary, remove the stitches.
After The Operation
Hormonal changes induced by the sterilisation take place almost immediately. The cat’s energy requirements reduce by around 30% following the procedure, but most cats tend to want to increase their food intake! This is because the metabolic changes are so fast the cat’s diet needs immediate adaption to prevent dramatic weight gain.
Males tend to gain more weight than females after being sterilised and they rapidly accumulate more body fat. Obesity increases the risk of a number of health conditions, most notably Diabetes Mellitus, but also joint issues, certain liver problems and constipation.
Post-Op Diet and Excercise
The ideal choice is a diet aimed at sterilised cats. You should make the transition during the week before the op so that the dietary change is made gradually. PetShopBowl offers Pro Plan’s Cat Food for Sterilised Cats which promotes a lean body mass, maintain good regulation of glucose metabolism and healthy urinary tract and Royal Canin’s range of food for young and adult neutered cats, which provides reduced energy density, along with high protein levels and L Carnitine to help preserve muscle mass, along with selected dietary fibres which increase the feeling of satiety to help reduce over eating.
Owners should also keep an eye on the cats weight and body condition, and if necessary adjust the amount of food given to the cat. Cats should be kept active so why not have a look at PetShopBowl’s cat toys and accessories for your cat to play with. Constant access to a litter tray, outdoors will increase the activity of the cat. Encouraging the cat to drink away from the food and litter tray will help to support the cats urinary health.