Neutering and spaying a cat: what you need to know

Spaying, neutering or castrating is a surgical procedure that involves the removal of a cat’s reproductive organs. Neutering can provide a range of benefits for both you and your cat while helping keep your cat happy and healthy. Here’s all you need to know about neutering your feline friend.

Benefits of neutering a cat

There are several benefits to spaying or neutering a cat, which can vary depending on whether they’re a boy or a girl.

Female cats

  • Prevents unwanted pregnancies
  • Stops unwanted behaviours linked to seasons/heat
  • Reduces the risk of cervical and mammary cancers greatly
  • Removes the risk of ovarian cancer
  • Prevents infections in the womb, or “pyometra”

Male cats

  • Prevents testicular cancer
  • Reduces the risk of spraying in the home (intact males tend to be very territorial)

All cats:

  • Less likely to roam away from home which reduces the chances of:
    • Getting hit by a car
    • Getting into fights
    • Going missing
  • Reduces the chance of contracting Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) & Feline Leukaemia (FeLV)

For you

  • Don’t have to worry about pregnancy and extra mouths to feed
  • No unwanted vocal tomcats attracted by a cat on heat
  • Weakened smell of urine in male cats
  • A cleaner home as male cats are less likely to mark their territory

What are the risks associated with spaying a cat?

Spaying a cat is a common and very safe procedure but as for any surgery, some risks exist, mostly linked to general anaesthesia. Some minor complications can occur like a reaction to the stitches or an infection of the wound if your cat is licking at it frequently after the surgery.

In the long term, it is also very important to maintain a healthy weight and shape as hormonal changes after the surgery can affect their weight. Your vet will be able to advise you on how to change their diet accordingly.

When to have your cat neutered

It is generally recommended that you get your cat neutered at around 5-6 months old, before they reach sexual maturity. This age can vary slightly depending on the breed and size of the cat but neutering early can prevent unwanted behaviours and certain health issues. Speak to your vet to decide the correct time to neuter your cat.

How long will it take for a cat to recover?

The recovery time for a cat after spaying or neutering varies depending on the individual cat and the type of procedure performed. Most cats will need to rest for at least a few days after the surgery and will need to wear a cone to stop them from licking their incision and prevent any infections.

You should also keep your cat indoors until they’ve recovered to stop them from jumping or playing excessively and to avoid exposing them to dirt or bacteria.

Other precautions you can take to help your cat

  • During the first 24 hours give your cat a small amount of water and half a portion of their food to limit vomiting and unnecessary strain on their incision.
  • Keep a clean litter box available in an easy-to-reach location so that they don’t have to walk too far to go to the toilet. You can move this accordingly.
  • Use shredded paper instead of cat litter to prevent dust and dirt from getting stuck in their incision and causing irritation. Only do this if your cat isn’t fussy about their litter. If they are, stick with one your cat likes.
  • If your cat is running, jumping or climbing when they shouldn’t be, consider keeping them in a crate to keep them safe.

Costs of neutering a cat

The cost of spaying or neutering a cat in the UK will vary depending on where you live and the type of procedure needed. Some local councils and animal charities offer discounts or subsidies to help offset the cost of the surgery for low-income families.

If you rehome a feline friend from certain animal charities, they will already be neutered and this cost is incorporated into the adoption fee you’ll pay before taking them home.

Whatever you decide, it’s important to discuss the options with your vet to determine what’s best for your cat. All of your questions can also be easily discussed with a veterinarian on the Joii app for FREE if you’re an Animal Friends cat or dog policyholder.

Free vet video calls for your cat

24/7/365 with the Joii app.

Our partnership with Joii Pet Care gives Animal Friends policyholders free online veterinary help, whenever and wherever they need it. Download the Joii app today.

The vets and nurses at Joii can provide you with veterinary advice, preventative care and diet plans. Free and exclusive to Animal Friends customers. T&C's apply

Looking for more cat advice?

We’ve written some handy cat advice guides, to help you unlock the secrets of your mysterious moggy.


Need cat insurance?

Cat insurance can help cover the cost of veterinary treatment if your cat gets injured or falls ill.


We know pets

Animal Friends Insurance is a multi-award winning FCA-regulated pet insurer, founded in 1998 to provide industry-leading pet insurance and first-class animal care to create a better life for every animal.
As one of the UK’s largest pet insurance providers, Animal Friends works with vets, veterinary professionals, and partners pioneering the latest veterinary technology & healthcare advancements to achieve our vision.
Our policyholders have helped donate over £7.8 million to more than 700 animal charities worldwide and by educating and inspiring others to act on current events and responsible pet ownership, Animal Friends is driving positive change for animal welfare and conservation.