Other than population control, there are lots of very, very good reasons to castrate (remove the testicles from) male cats. They basically fall into one of two categories – they are either behavioral or medical. Regardless of which category we are talking about, most of the unwanted characteristics or conditions are caused by the male hormone testosterone, which is produced within the testicle. That is the major reason vasectomies have never been that popular in veterinary medicine. This procedure eliminates successful breeding, but it does not reduce any of the undesirable problems of the intact male, since it does not affect testosterone production or the distribution of testosterone throughout the rest of the cat's body.
Behavioral advantages of neutering
Decreased Aggression: The (male) androgen hormones, of which testosterone is the most important, are responsible for the development of many behavioral patterns. Testosterone greatly affects aggression in cats. One of the most important behavioral advantages of castration is that as adults, these neutered cats will tend to be less aggressive toward other cats.
Decreased Spraying: Spraying urine is a normal sexual behavior of uncastrated male tomcats. Anyone who has smelled tomcat urine will quickly agree that spraying is a very unwanted behavior. Some unspayed and spayed females, and some castrated males, will spray, but it is much more common in unneutered males.
Decreased Roaming: Another behavioral advantage of neutering is that neutered cats are much less likely to react when they sense a female in heat. Male cats can sense females in heat through pheromones. These are airborne chemical attractants that are liberated from the female when she is cycling. They travel through the air for great distances. Male cats neutered at an early age will generally not sense or respond to pheromones, and would certainly be less stressed and tend to stay home if they are outdoor cats.
Reduced Injuries: The biggest medical advantage to neutering cats is really related to their behavior. Unneutered male cats fight to defend their territory. Such fights can be extremely serious, as abscesses often develop from the bite wounds. The veterinarians at the Drs. Foster and Smith Veterinary Medical Facility have seen many tomcats who are missing parts of their ears and tails, or have faces with multiple scars resulting from the fights they had with other toms. Indoor, neutered cats lead much healthier and longer lives.
Improved Genetics: We want breeding animals to be the best representatives of their species. The selection is best done by professional breeders. We certainly do not want unwanted traits like hereditary diseases or aggressive personalities passed on.
In the United States, most cats are neutered between 4 and 6 months of age. Many animal shelters and veterinarians are starting to neuter male animals at a younger age, even 6-14 weeks of age. This early neutering does not affect the growth rate, and there are no appreciable differences in skeletal, physical, or behavioral development between those animals neutered early than those neutered at a more traditional age. It must be remembered that younger animals may need different anesthetics and are more prone to hypothermia (lower than normal body temperature) during surgery. As long as procedures are modified to account for these differences, early neutering is very safe. In fact, animals neutered at a younger age often have faster recoveries than those neutered when they are older.
The behavioral or medical problems caused by testosterone are common. Veterinarians deal with them on a daily basis. We do not want to see your pet suffer from a medical or behavioral problem that could have been prevented through neutering. Do your pet and yourself a good deed – by neutering your pet.