Neutering and spaying a cat: what you need to know

Spaying and neutering are surgical procedures that involve the removal of a cat’s reproductive organs. Female cats can be spayed, which means their ovaries and uterus are removed. Male cats are castrated or neutered, so their testicles are taken away.

We’re going to explore the benefits, risks, and costs associated with spaying and neutering – to support you in making the right decision for your cat’s health and welfare.

Here’s all you need to know about neutering your feline friend...

Benefits of neutering or spaying a cat

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

Female cats

  • Prevents unwanted pregnancies.
  • Stops unwanted behaviours linked to seasons/being in heat (e.g. calling).
  • Greatly reduces the risk of cervical and mammary cancers.
  • Removes the risk of ovarian cancer.
  • Prevents infections of the womb (e.g. pyometra).

Male cats

  • Prevents testicular cancer.
  • Reduces the risk of spraying urine around your house.
  • As well as reducing the risk of spraying, it removes the strong smell of their urine, too!

All cats

  • They’re less likely to roam away in search of a mate, which reduces the chances of:
    o    Getting into accidents.
    o    Getting into fights.
    o    Going missing.
  • Reduces the risk of contracting Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) and Feline Leukaemia (FeLV).

For you

  • Won’t have to worry about dealing with the stresses and costs of caring for your cat throughout pregnancy.
  • Removes the pressures of paying the care costs for, and looking after, a litter of kittens.
  • Eliminates the emotional distress involved in finding suitable new homes for kittens you’ve watched develop and grow from birth.
  • No more unwanted attention from vocal tomcats, who are attracted by female cats on heat.
  • A cleaner home, since male cats are less likely to mark their territory.

What are the risks associated with spaying or neutering a cat?

As with any surgery, there are risks associated with spaying and neutering – including surgical site infections and allergies to anaesthetic. However, both spaying and neutering are safe procedures that vets carry out every day.

To lower the risk of anything going wrong on the day of their spay or neuter, your cat will be monitored before, during, and after the operation.

Plus, your vet will explain the risks of surgery to you prior to booking your cat’s procedure, so make sure you prepare any questions you’d like to ask them! 

For more details on exactly what happens during their surgery, check out our article about the procedure for spaying a cat.

In the long term, cats who have been spayed or neutered will need to have their weight carefully monitored – since they won’t require the same number of calories anymore. Luckily, your vet or vet nurse can provide lots of useful advice about diet and weight management, to help keep your cat in the best possible condition!

When to have your cat neutered

There’s debate among vets about the best time to get your cat spayed or neutered. So, you’ll need to follow the advice of your own vet as to what’s best for your cat’s unique situation.

In general, though, most vets tend to advise getting your cat spayed or neutered from four months of age.

Please note: It’s important to keep your cat inside until they’re spayed or neutered, because one female cat and her offspring can produce 370,000 kittens in just seven years!

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.

Your cat will need to wear a cone, inflatable recovery collar, or vet-approved body suit to stop them from licking their incision and prevent infections, too.

Following their surgery, you’ll need to keep your cat indoors until they’ve recovered fully – to stop them from injuring themselves or exposing their surgical site to harmful bacteria.

Other precautions you can take to support your cat’s recovery

  • Attend all post-surgery appointments with the vet or vet nurse, so they can monitor your cat’s condition and wellbeing throughout the recovery process.
  • During the first 24 hours, your vet may recommend giving your cat small amounts of water, and half a portion of their food, to lessen the risk of vomiting.
  • Keep a clean litter box available in an easy-to-reach location, so your cat doesn’t have to climb or travel too far to relieve themselves. 
  • Use shredded paper instead of cat litter, to prevent dust and dirt from irritating their surgical site. 
  • If your cat is running, jumping, or climbing when they shouldn’t be, consider using a suitably sized crate to keep them safe; based on veterinary advice.

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.

Some animal charities will neuter your feline friend before you bring them home, so the cost of surgery will be included in their adoption fee.

Whatever you decide, it’s important to discuss the options with your vet to determine what’s best for your cat.

For expert advice from the comfort of your home, any time day or night, download the Joii Pet Care app and chat to a vet about neutering your pet!

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 £8.5 million to more than 800 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.