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I am debating when to neuter my male cat and I wonder if waiting until after he's mated with my female cat would be best for both of them.

I found this study that suggests that because the hormones play such an important role in a cat's development, spaying/neutering can be detrimental, and even increase the risks of some illnesses (such as cancer in female cats that were spayed without being bred first).

"The UC Davis study was undertaken, according to the researchers, because “Given the importance of gonadal hormones in growth and development, this cultural contrast invites an analysis of the multiple organ systems that may be adversely affected by neutering.”

Is this true, and should I wait until my cats have mated once before having them spayed/neutered?

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As it says on that site,

The Golden Retriever findings can’t be generalized to other breeds, or dogs in general.

Each dog breed has its own set of health risks, so I wouldn't try to extrapolate to cats. Second, that site only suggests delaying the age at which Golden Retrievers are neutered/spayed. I don't think they're suggesting that the dogs be mated once first, just that neutering/spaying should be delayed. Furthermore, this is just one study. The site mentions a "growing body of evidence", but doesn't reference any other studies.

Even if it is true that early spaying/neutering involves some health risks, you need to balance that against the health risks of pregnancy, or being hit by a car because they stray too far from home to answer a "booty call", or injured in a fight between toms. Maybe you'll keep your cats indoors to prevent pregnancy, but they only need to escape once! Plus, I seem to recall there are some health risks associated with a female cat going into heat several times without being serviced. And don't overlook the practical side of things -- do you want to live with a yowling cat for days on end, or the urine sprayed everywhere?

Finally, I adore cats, but the last thing the world needs is more of them. Even if you find good homes for all of the kittens that your cats might produce, that just means fewer homes for all of the other unwanted cats.

If you are still concerned about this, ask your vet's advice about the best age to neuter/spay.


EDIT: More info, from the ASPCA

Spaying helps prevent uterine infections and breast cancer, which is fatal in about 50 percent of dogs and 90 percent of cats. Spaying your pet before her first heat offers the best protection from these diseases.

Neutering provides major health benefits for your male. Besides preventing unwanted litters, neutering your male companion prevents testicular cancer, if done before six months of age.

The RSPCA has similar advice.

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  • "I seem to recall there are some health risks associated with a female cat going into heat several times without being serviced." - I had read the same but couldn't find the actual article, do you remember where you read it? – SurvMach Aug 7 '14 at 18:27
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    Unfortunately, I don't remember where I saw that. But I have updated my answer with some more detailed info about the health benefits of spaying & neutering. Hope it helps. – mhwombat Aug 7 '14 at 18:52
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Quite the reverse. Some cancers are increased if you let the female breed.

Citation: From mhwombat's answer citing the ASPCA

Spaying helps prevent uterine infections and breast cancer, which is fatal in about 50 percent of dogs and 90 percent of cats. Spaying your pet before her first heat offers the best protection from these diseases.

Neutering provides major health benefits for your male. Besides preventing unwanted litters, neutering your male companion prevents testicular cancer, if done before six months of age.

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A study on how the age of gonadectomy in cats may affect their future behavior found:

The occurrence of inappropriate elimination, fearful behavior, non-play-related aggression, and destruction was associated with other social and environmental variables (e.g., the use of punishment by the owner and friendliness toward a stranger). This study found no evidence that age at the time of gonadectomy in cats has an effect on the mean number of (potentially) undesirable behaviors or on the occurrence of commonly reported behaviors (inappropriate elimination, non-play-related aggression, fearful behavior, or destruction) in literature during 24 months after adoption from a shelter.

The study is summarized on the Winn Foundation blog.

Study information:

Development of behavior in adopted shelter kittens after gonadectomy performed at an early age or at a traditional age Nathalie Portersa, Hilde de Roostera, Katrien Verschuerenb, Ingeborgh Polisa, Christel P.H. Moonsc, , Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research Volume 9, Issue 5, September–October 2014, Pages 196–206. Web abstract.

In other words, the results of this study indicate that the effect of the cat's environment is much stronger on the cat's future behavior than if it is gonadectomized before or after puberty.

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  • Yeah, mine got neutered 3 weeks ago, strangely enough it really tried to get the deed done during the first week after the surgery. As far as the behavior, it had rags available around the house in order to urinate/mark but it has been decreasing since it gets sprayed with water whenever misbehaving. I will let the female go through a couple heats in order to gain a more appropriate size for the surgery. – SurvMach Feb 7 '15 at 18:09
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When you take a cat that was neutered as a baby and place it side by side with an un-neutered cat, you can immediately tell that the cat that still has its hormones is more muscular and confident of itself. A neutered cat is more insecure, smaller in size, and tends to Have obesity health problems because they lose their testosterone drive, which is important in regulating eating and exercise habits. They more often than not have to be put on strict diet control. Human owners have to control this problem because they no longer have the ability to regulate themselves.

They are like the palace eunuchs of China. Boys who lead boring lives, no sexual gratification, and have slim bodies and high pitched voices like girls. They can no longer have a masculine/feminine identity and are labeled as sexual orientation (X).

This only applies to me for cats that are neutered as early as babies. I don’t know if this applies to cats that are allowed to develop important hormones (delay until 6 months old). I haven’t researched about cats that are allowed to keep their hormones until 6 months of age and neutered when they reach maturity.

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