All you need to know about sterilisation
Sterilisation really is best for your cat.
Unless you're planning to breed from your kitten, sterilisation (or neutering) is the best thing you can do to help her enjoy life to the full. Why? Because not only will you avoid the worry of unwanted pregnancy in female cats, but also a male cat will refrain from sexual behaviour such as spraying urine and howling, which can be very unpleasant. The urge to travel away from home to find a mate will be eliminated, so your cat will stay loyal, affectionate and less likely to stray. This also reduces the risk of road traffic accidents and fights with other cats.
Sterilisation has health benefits, too. The reduction in hormones can protect your cat from diseases, such as womb infections and cancer. Ultimately, neutered cats tend to live longer.
Most vets recommend neutering, or sterilizing, between four and six months old and will be happy to explain exactly what is involved.
What to expect
Sterilisation is a straightforward operation, and one your vet will have performed dozens of times before. It's natural to feel nervous and maybe a little guilty, but you can rest assured that you are doing the best thing for your cat.
Your vet will probably ask you not to feed your kitten the evening before the operation. This is because she will have a general anaesthetic. But do call your vet so you know exactly how to prepare for the day.
Before the surgery takes place the vet needs to shave a small area of her fur, so don't be shocked when you spot a little bald patch after the operation. The procedure is straightforward whether you are castrating a male (removing the testes) or spaying a female (removing the ovaries and uterus), and only a small incision is involved. So please don't worry, it's very rare to have complications.
The good news is you can usually take your kitten home the same day. Remember, it's normal for her to sleep a lot over the next few hours, while her body adjusts after the anaesthetic. She'll probably be as bouncy as ever the next day, but try to keep her relatively calm for a day or two so she can heal properly. The stitches, or sutures (required for females, though not usually after the castration of males), are usually removed after 7 to 10 days.
The change in hormonal balance after sterilisation will slow down your cat's metabolism a little, making him or her more prone to weight gain. But there's no reason why your cat should put on weight; you just need to ensure that you feed the correct food in the right quantities. Also, while urinary problems are common in all cats, they are more likely after neutering. You could consider switching to a food specially formulated for neutered cats once your kitten has been neutered, such as Hill's Science Plan Neutered Cat. This food contains the correct energy levels, balance of vitamins, minerals and safe salt levels which means you'll help prevent any problems. If you've any doubts about what to give your cat, or have any questions, your vet will be happy to advise you.