Cats can produce numerous and large litters annually and as such the number of cats in a population can rapidly increase if cats are not desexed. Stray and feral cat populations compete with domestic cats for resources, often resulting in aggression and cat fights. They also cause extensive damage to local wildlife. As these cats are not under regular veterinary care and a pet medication regime, they also often harbour diseases which can be readily spread to the domestic population. Responsible pet ownership focuses on reducing this population of unwanted cats in an area.
Male cats reach puberty at 9 months of age on average, so castration prior to this age is recommended. Castration involves removal of both testicles under a general anaesthetic. A veterinarian will give a general health check prior to the anaesthetic and this allows for any other concerns to be addressed at the same time. The removal of the testicles prevents the cat being able to reproduce and also provides some other medical and cat behaviour advantages in some cases. Recovery from the surgery is rapid and many cats return to their normal activities within a day or so of the surgery.
Although cryptorchidism (retention of a testicle in the abdomen) is a rare event in male cats when it does occur there is a risk of the retained testicle becoming neoplastic, causing a lump or tumour. Thus castration is recommended in these cases.
Spraying by tom cats is a frustrating issue for many owners. Spraying involves the cat spraying urine as a communication tool to mark its territory. Whilst entire and castrated cats can spray, castration of entire (non-castrated) male cats that spray can help the situation. It is suggested that castration can reduce or stop spraying in these cats, whilst also reducing the pungent nature of the urine smell. Rates of effectiveness of 78% have been documented. For entire male cats, a repellant spray, such as the Stop Repellant Spray may help to prevent spraying in certain areas.
Cat fights are often another area of intense frustration for many cat owners. There are numerous reasons for cats to fight including fear, territorial aggression, intermale aggression, redirected aggression and the like. The treatments suggested for dealing with aggression vary depending on the source of the aggression. Castration (either pre or post pubertal) will not stop all forms of aggression, but can reduce the frequency or stop fights in 90% of cases of intermale aggression seen between entire males.
Desexing your male cat is a responsible step towards preventing the population of unwanted and stray cats from increasing. Any cat kept as a pet or any breeding cat which has finished its reproductive role in a professional breeding establishment should be considered for desexing. Your local veterinarian can discuss the advantages and risks associated with this operation.