Spaying and neutering pets is a great way to make sure their population stays in check, but pet parents are naturally concerned about some of the things people associate with the procedure. One of the most well-known of these is that neutering a male house, especially if it occurs early on, will stunt its growth. Fortunately, this is a myth.
The bottom line is that neutering a cat does not stunt its growth. In fact, it can sometimes do just the opposite, or at least look that way.
Does Neutering a Male House Cat Stunt Its Growth?
It was previously thought that because a male cat’s testicles are removed when they are neutered, that their growth is stunted simply because their hormones have essentially been eliminated. Fortunately, this is not true and in fact, in some ways the cats can actually look a little bigger. This happens for two main reasons.
First of all, without testicles the cat is much less interested in seeking out a mate and becomes a lot less active physically. Neutered cats are more affectionate and less aggressive, and this can cause them to gain a little weight and get bigger simply because they are not moving around nearly as much.
Second, lack of testicles can affect the time frame that the growing plates fuse or “close.” Growing plates are located at the ends of large bones and go from soft tissue to regular calcified bones once the growing process is complete. When a cat is neutered as a kitten, it causes the plates to close at a later age, which means they are usually longer and taller than unneutered cats.
Yet another reason the neutered cat may become larger is because the procedure causes some changes in the cat’s metabolism. As a result, the cats are often more sedentary than they were before the operation and therefore can become larger and heavier.
Early neutering, which usually means before the cat has reached sexual maturity, was once thought to stunt growth simply because it is done at such a young age. But this has been proven not to be the case. Of course, there are other concerns about having cats neutered at 7 weeks and not 7 months, for example, but that information is best left for other articles.
What Are the Concerns About Early Neutering?
Just like anything else in life, there are pros and cons to early neutering in male cats. For instance, when they are neutered at a very young age, male cats’ spraying behavior is reduced. Their urine doesn’t have as strong of a smell, which is good news especially for indoor cats.
On the other hand, early sterilization can cause hip problems when males get to be about a year old, but more studies are needed to definitively prove this theory.
If you’re curious about the “perfect” time to spay or neuter your pets, for male cats, it is best done before 7-10 months of age. In fact, many experts recommend that you get it done at the same time as their last round of immunizations, which is usually around four months of age. That being said, each pet is different and therefore, you’ll need to discuss this with your veterinarian.
The Advantages of Neutering a Male House Cat
To be sure, most specialists agree that the pros outweigh the cons when it comes to neutering your male house cat. Some of the many advantages to choosing this procedure include:
- No more unwanted cats, which means fewer worries about overpopulation
- Less exposure to diseases since they don’t go out looking for cats in heat
- More exposure to accidents while they’re out because they’re not out looking in the first place
- Less expensive in the long run to take care of your pet
Some articles you’ll read will say that when a cat is neutered, the odds of blocked bladders and even orthopedic problems, as well as others, are increased, and this can naturally be a concern for many pet parents. Just keep in mind that there are no significant studies that back up this claim, so you have very little to worry about in this area.
Once you compare all of the pros and cons and of course, get the advice and assistance you need from your vet, you’ll likely agree that not only is getting your cat neutered a good idea, but also that neutering him early while he’s still young is an even better idea.
Early neutering also requires less anesthesia, helps them recuperate much faster, and is just simpler both physically and emotionally on the cat. You’ll have to watch your cat’s diet after the surgery because he’ll be less active and may gain some weight, but this can be a lot easier than you think, especially if you enlist your vet’s help.
Although it was once thought that neutering a male house cat would stunt its growth, this has been proven not to be true. In some ways, the cat may actually get bigger due to the growth plates taking longer to close and a more sedentary lifestyle that causes them to grow bigger. Other advantages, such as the cat being less aggressive and more affectionate, also apply.
When all is said and done, it is smart for numerous reasons to have pets neutered or spayed. This is especially true if the animal is young and healthy. It makes sense for many reasons to do this, in other words.