Spaying and castration are surgical procedures that make your cat unable to reproduce. Spaying is the removal of a female cat's ovaries and castration is the removal of a male cat's testicles. Neutering refers to either procedure.

If you have an outdoor cat or multiple indoor cats you should seriously consider having your cat neutered. The world is incredibly overpopulated by stray cats. Most of them end up in shelters or on the street and if they are not adopted, they are either put to sleep or die from trauma, starvation or exposure to the elements.

Unless you are planning on breeding and are confident you will find homes for all the kittens (a female cat can produce up to 15-20 kittens a year) the most responsible thing to do is have your cat neutered.

The Benefits of Neutering

Even if your cat stays indoors and doesn't live with a viable breeding partner, it's still a good idea to have your cat neutered. If you have a female cat, spaying makes ovarian cancer impossible and also dramatically reduces the risk of cervical cancer.

It will also eliminate a number of behaviours that you may find undesirable. A female that hasn't been neutered will go into heat around three to four times a year. During this time she may meow constantly or try to get out of the house.

When a female goes into a heat several times without mating she may develop problems like depression, anorexia, diarrhoea and vomiting. Neutering will eliminate all such behaviours.

Males

Male cats also benefit greatly from being neutered. It eliminates the risk of testicular cancer and prevents a number of behaviours that can make owning a male cat difficult.

Neutered male cats are far less territorial, will rarely spray urine to mark their territory, and their urine will not smell nearly as strong. If you have two male cats, neutering them will dramatically reduce the amount they fight. In fact, neutered cats are generally much more docile and easier to handle.

The operation

Preparing for the actual procedure is the same for each gender. You should not feed your cat for about 12 hours before the surgery.

The cat is put under a general anaesthetic and hooked up to monitoring equipment to make sure there are no complications. Then an incision is made and the ovaries and sometimes the uterus or testicles are removed. The incision is then closed with stitches that may be hidden inside.

Because a larger incision is needed for a female cat she may need to stay at the clinic for a day or two while male cats generally go home the same day.

Afterwards

our vet may fit your cat with a head cone to prevent the stitches being chewed. You'll need to keep an eye on the cat to make sure that the wound shows no signs of swelling, tearing, bleeding or discharge.

If any of these symptoms appear, inform your vet immediately. Usually a cat recovers completely from a neutering operation, and within a week or two the vet will remove the stitches.

During her recuperation make sure she has plenty of water, clean bedding and a chance to relax in a calming environment.

There is some debate about the best time to have a cat neutered. Most vets recommend neutering at six to eight months, before your cat reaches sexual maturity. Ask your own vet what he or she recommends for your cat.

Side effects

After neutering, a cat's hormonal balance changes, causing the metabolism to slow down, this makes the cat prone to weight gain. Hill's Science Plan NeuteredCat contains just the right amount of calories for neutered cats. In addition, neutered cats accumulate more fat and less muscle mass than non-neutered cats. Therefore, Hill's Science Plan NeuteredCat is formulated using our unique Weight Management Formula (WMF) with lysine and L-carnitine which help to burn fat and build muscle.

Urinary problems are common in all cats, and more so after neutering. Hill's Science Plan NeuteredCat is formulated with controlled mineral levels and produces the appropriate urinary pH level to decrease the risk of bladder stone formation and maintain urinary health.

Hill's Science Plan NeuteredCat is available from your veterinary practice.

Playtime with Children

Your kitten is born to play

When it comes to playtime, your kitten is a natural; and will turn anything into a game. A piece of paper or foil screwed up into a ball, a pen cap, or any small object suspended by a piece of string; kittens simply can't resist the temptation to play. Better still, she'll be more than happy for you to join in the fun and games, which is why playtime develops a strong bond between the two of you.

 

A new world to explore

Being an inquisitive little creature, your new kitten will love to explore, especially covered spaces. A paper bag, an open cupboard or drawer, under the bed; an inquisitive kitten simply has to find out what's in there. So a word of warning; please don't leave the washing machine or tumble drier doors open as kittens have been known to become trapped inside. And whatever you do, don't leave that toilet seat up…

 

Kitten's own toys

You can have loads of fun with kitten toys, especially small, soft toys. They can easily be batted about or picked up in her claws or teeth. And by playing hide and seek with a soft toy, the inborn hunting instinct will come into play and she'll have hours of fun tracking down her 'prey'. Give her a catnip toy and watch her roll around with happiness; catnip contains an ingredient called nepetalactone that cats love. But watch out, some cats react aggressively to catnip, while some don't react at all.

A kitten's natural curiosity might lead her to try taking a bite out of your house plants, and many of these can be poisonous. As a precaution, it's a good idea to check out what you have in your pots and keep any dangerous ones well out of reach. Lilies, poinsettias and cyclamens can be especially poisonous to cats.

 

Scratching from the start

Scratching and stretching are essential to your kitten's wellbeing, and your curtains or soft furnishings are almost certain to be an easy target. But give her a scratching post from day one and it should prove to be a useful distraction from your furniture. Better still, it will keep her claws in trim. If your kitten doesn't seem too keen on the scratching post at first, try sprinkling a little catnip around the base. Most cats can't resist the smell, so she might end up thinking the post isn't such a bad idea after all.

 

Kittens and kids are made for each other, eventually

It's hardly surprising that children simply adore kittens. But if they're under 5 years old, you're advised not to let them play with a kitten under 6 months. That's because they're very playful and their claws and teeth are very sharp; a very young child might not understand that the occasional scratch is all part of the game. It's wonderful for children to grow up with a pet in the family, and they'll develop a much happier relationship when both are old enough to understand the other.

Teach your children how to care for the new member of the family; how to play with her, what and how to feed her (not forgetting what not to feed her). And give them a sense of responsibility by taking their turn to wash up the food bowl. Irresistible though a kitten is, the children need to understand how much sleep she needs, and not to disturb her when she curls up in her bed to get some much needed rest.

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