What to Expect from Cats' Behavior after Being Spayed

Although spaying and neutering is one of the most commonly performed surgical pet procedures, many people worry the operation will negatively affect their cat's behavior. Spaying and neutering does not alter a pet's personality, and most vets are in favor of the procedure for its health benefits and ability to curb negative behaviors, such as spraying and fighting for territory.

What Happens during Spay or Neuter Surgery

Spaying and neutering removes all or some of the cat's reproductive organs so he/she cannot produce offspring. During a spay, the term for females, the uterus and ovaries are removed via the abdomen. The area is sutured closed and many cats resume normal behavior and activity level within 48 hours. Neutering, for male cats, is an even simpler procedure in which the testicles are removed via the scrotum. Many males, especially lively adolescents, return to their boisterous ways within just a few hours.

Most veterinarians will provide some aftercare instructions, but generally, you'll want to monitor your cat's behavior for the next 10-14 days. Inspect the suture area regularly to make sure it is healing. Do not allow your cat to lick the incision. This area must stay dry for at least 10 days. Make sure your cat continues to drink water and use the litter box. She may initially be hesitant to eat following surgery, but her appetite should return within 48 hours.

How Spaying and Neutering Can Curb Negative Behaviors

Spay/neuter surgery will not change a pet's personality, but it can eliminate or lessen unwanted behaviors. Because spaying and neutering removes the reproductive organs, cats are no longer ruled by the instinct to mate. Female cats will not go into heat, which often results in howling, crying and in many cases, frequent attempts to escape from their home to find a mate. Neutered males are less likely to be aggressive, mark their territorial, and will also stay closer to home. 

Health Benefits of Spay/Neuter

Spayed and neutered pets not only make better companions, they also tend to live longer, happier lives. Spaying and neutering at an early age can even reduce veterinary costs over the course of a cat's lifetime. Spaying and neutering decreases the risk of several forms of cancer, prostate problems, and the contraction of feline AIDS through fighting.  

How Spay/Neuter Benefits the Community

Shelters around the country are full of homeless pets waiting for adoption. Most animal welfare organizations agree that spaying and neutering is the best way to help control pet overpopulation, reduce euthanasia and lessen the burden of animal control on cities and counties. Because the choice to spay or neuter your pet benefits the community, many animal shelters, veterinary hospitals and humane societies offer spay/neuter surgery at a discounted rate. Your own city may have a low-cost spay/neuter incentive program.  

Before scheduling your pet's spay or neuter surgery, make sure you have addressed any questions or concerns with a veterinarian. Procedures vary slightly from pet to pet, and you'll want to discuss factors such as age and weight before moving forward with the surgery.