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Responsible cat owners have their cat spayed or castrated unless they specifically decide to breed them. What are the benefits of neutering your cat, and what do you need to know about the procedure?

Kittens become sexually mature between the ages of five and eight months, at which point they are able to reproduce. Unless you make the conscious decision to breed your cats, you'll want to have them neutered. 

The first and extremely compelling reason to have your cat neutered is preventing the birth of kittens you cannot rehome. In the United States alone, 3.4 million cats enter shelters every year, and 1.4 million are euthanized. Only 37 percent of the cats who go into shelters are adopted, with a larger number — 41 percent — being euthanized. With so many cats already depending on animal lovers giving them a home in order to keep on living, you really don't want to add more cats to the world. 

The second reason to get your cat neutered is that spaying or castrating your furry friend prevents annoying behaviors and keeps them safer from certain diseases. 

What do you need to know about getting your cat spayed or castrated?

Castration In Male Cats: Why, How, And What After

If you have a tomcat, you'll never face the struggle of rehoming kittens yourself. However, if your Tom is an outdoor cat, he will contribute to the huge problem of unwanted cats on the street. Male cats who haven't been castrated are also more likely to get into fights with other males, something that places them at risk of FIV, feline HIV, and the feline leukemia virus. What's more, looking for females, intact tomcats will explore larger areas, making them much more likely to encounter such hazards as highways. Even if your cat is an indoor cat, there are reasons to get him neutered — intact tomcats tend to spray to mark their territory. Just, yuck. 

Fortunately, neutering a male cat isn't a major procedure. In the US, most tomcats are neutered between four and six months. Where I live in Europe, vets recommend waiting until they are at least six months old in order to protect the cat's kidneys. However, you may well find that your tomcat starts displaying sexual behaviors including spraying and attempting to mate even when he's only three months old. For that reason, some vets, especially in the United States, do castrate male cats when they are as young as six to 14 weeks. If you are waiting to have your cat castrated, keeping him indoors and away from fertile females is a good idea.

During the procedure itself, the testes are removed under general anesthesia by cutting a small incision in the scrotum. Because castration involves general anesthesia, your cat won't be able to eat or drink on the day of the procedure. The operation will not take longer than an hour, and you can usually take your cat home on the same day. He'll feel drowsy and disoriented after waking up from his anesthesia. As he comes back to consciousness, he'll try to stand up and fall — right onto his sore spot. For that reason, your vet will probably encourage you to leave him in his transport box for at least an hour after he comes home, and they'll also recommend you stay home with your cat the rest of the day.

Your Tom will probably feel a lot better the day after his castration, and he'll be back to normal within a few days. That is, he'll develop a new normal. Castrated cats are often friendlier, and they can also be more playful.
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