From around the age of 4 months, kittens reach sexual maturity and are therefore capable of breeding and producing kittens themselves.
Most people do not have the time or desire to breed from their cat and do not wish to add to the number of unwanted cats and kittens already looking for homes. Neutering a cat – castration in the male (removal of the testes), and spaying the female (removal of the ovaries and uterus) – not only prevents unwanted pregnancies occurring, but also curbs unwanted behavioural patterns associated with sexual maturity and reduces the risk of certain diseases.
Reasons for neutering female cats
- Population control. It is important to neuter a female cat before she can have kittens herself. This happens very quickly depending on breed, time of year born and individual development. The first season usually occurs around six months but can be earlier. Queens can have up to three litters in a year.
- Control of nuisance. Female cats will ‘call’ (come into season and be receptive to the male cat) regularly, about every three weeks during sexually active times of the year if they do not get pregnant. Having entire female cats in an area will attract entire males with the attendant problems of spraying, fighting and caterwauling.
- Welfare issues. Unwanted kittens may not be cared for and are likely to suffer from various infectious diseases such as cat ‘flu or worse. There are unlikely to be enough new homes available for them.
- Health issues. Female cats which are not neutered are more likely to suffer from pyometra (infection of the womb) later in life and with mammary tumours. Queens with infectious diseases may pass these on to their kittens. Pregnancy and birth are also not without risk.
- Wildlife issues. Cats with kittens will hunt more actively and if they are not being fed will need to catch more wildlife to feed their kittens.