Neutering is a surgical procedure that removes the testes of male cats or the uterus and ovaries of female cats. As a responsible pet owner, you need to have your Maine Coon neutered at the right age.
Maine Coons need to be neutered between 4 and 6 months of age before they typically hit puberty. Doing so would minimize unwanted behaviors including urine spraying, aggression, and roaming. Neutering at the right age also eliminates the risk of having an unwanted litter.
The Risks of Neutering Your Maine Coon Too Late
At puberty, behavioral changes occur in unneutered cats. Once they start, these behaviors could be irreversible. Even doing the surgery later on may not help. Waiting too long to get your Maine Coon neutered may leave you with a very difficult pet.
Urine Spraying Habits
Cat spraying is also referred to as urine marking. This happens when cats release small amounts of urine in their surroundings. While this is a behavior that is mostly associated with intact males, females are found to spray as well.
For males, spraying is a way to mark their territory. For females, it’s typically to communicate where they are in their reproductive cycle. Spraying also happens when your cat feels anxious or threatened.
Urine marking starts at puberty, as cats begin to sexually mature. Neutering will minimize your cat’s urge to spray but only if it’s done before they get into the habit.
Unneutered cats tend to develop a strong urine smell. Hormones and pheromones that they release when they pee bring about this incredibly pungent odor.
This odor serves as a chemical message that would mark their territory or signal to other cats when they’re ready to mate.
Neutering limits these hormones and, in turn, minimizes the urine’s stench. Even if your already-neutered cat decides to spray later on, it won’t smell as foul.
Male and female cats reaching sexual maturity will want to roam outside in search of a mate. Outside, there are many dangers to your Maine Coon. They can get stolen, lost, or injured.
They can also get into fights with other animals or mate with an unhealthy partner. Neutering will curb their desire to copulate and so they won’t get into the habit of roaming outside the house.
In fact, even if you decide to let your Maine Coon outside, most neutered Maine Coons will mostly stay near your house or in your garden. Read more on that here.
Producing Unwanted Litter
A cat that’s intact at puberty will find a way to mate. And if by chance, they find an intact mate, their chances of producing an unwanted litter are high. Consider the fact that there are already far more cats born than there are homes to take them in.
Neutering your Maine Coon before they are able to reproduce eliminates that problem for you. It also helps control the overpopulation of cats.
Intact cats get cranky and aggressive, especially towards other cats. This typically happens when they’re feeling territorial over space, food, or their mates. This aggression can sometimes be directed at people or other pets.
Neutering on time reduces the risk of your Maine Coon developing a permanent attitude problem.
Still, Maine Coons are known for being one of the friendliest cat breeds. If you have some problems with aggression in your Maine Coon, read this article.
While not so much of a problem with males, female cats in heat are known to be very noisy. In nature, females in heat need to announce their condition so that males can find them and impregnate them.
Domesticated cats still do that and so will tend to yowl and wail during this time. Neutering at the right age keeps your Maine Coon from going in heat, which would happen several times a year.
Neutering your Maine Coon at the right age minimizes the typical problems surrounding cat ownership. Additionally, it eliminates the risk of testicular cancer and reduces their risk of prostate cancer in males.
In females, neutering eliminates the risk of uterine infections. It also reduces the risk of breast tumors, which happen to be cancerous and fatal for 90% of cats that have them.
Common Myths About Neutering Maine Coons
I am pretty sure that you have heard at least one of these myths.
Neutering is unnecessary for homebound Maine Coons
You may be able to keep your Maine Coon locked up at home. However, when a cat has the urge to roam and find a mate, being homebound might get frustrating. It can bring about some annoying behaviors like excessive noise or even aggression.
Furthermore, an intact cat can do a lot of damage at home. This includes habitual spraying, which could get extremely foul smelling.
Neutering is useless for Maine Coons in single-cat homes
Again, neutering isn’t just about sterilization and avoiding unwanted litters. It’s about minimizing unwanted behavior, encouraging an even temper, and keeping your cat healthy.
Neutering makes Maine Coons prone to obesity
Some people believe that neutered Maine Coons get fatter more quickly than intact cats. While this might be true, it is only because neutered cats aren’t as active as intact cats.
They’re not necessarily lazy but they’re also not constantly in search of a mate.
Obesity in Maine Coons can be avoided by giving the right food in proper amounts. You can also encourage them to exercise by playing with them or giving them toys they can play with on their own.
If you want to know what the best toys for Maine Coons are, read this article.
Neutering affects a Maine Coons’ identity
Your Maine Coon won’t go through an identity crisis because of losing his testes or her ovaries. Neutering doesn’t affect a cat’s masculinity or femininity.
It just limits their tendency to adopt the annoying behaviors that are typically associated with intact cats. If you want to learn more about the typical personality of Maine Coons, read this article.
Neutering affects Maine Coons’ head size
Maine Coons are a slow-growing breed. They’re not considered fully grown until around 3-4 years old.
Waiting until then to get your cat sterilized will expose you to all the risks described above.
Besides, no scientific evidence has proven that neutering at an early age stunts the growth of Maine Coons, especially their heads.
How to Prepare for Neutering Your Maine Coon
Before your cat is scheduled for surgery, they will need to undergo various tests. These tests will determine whether or not they are healthy enough to tolerate the surgery.
Required tests will vary depending on the vet and your cat's medical history. It usually involves an echocardiogram, urinalysis, and various blood examinations.
If the test results show that your cat is healthy enough, you may go ahead and schedule the surgery. Schedule it around the time when you can stay home with your cat for the first couple of days following the surgery.
As the surgery day approaches, talk to your vet about pre-operative care. Different veterinarians have different practices. But, expect to be told to withhold feeding within the 12 hours prior to the surgery.
This is because neutering will be done while your cat is under general anesthesia. With an empty stomach, your cat will be better able to tolerate the operation. They also won’t be at risk of asphyxiation due to vomiting.
When you take your cat for the surgery, try to keep them as calm as possible. This is especially important if they normally get anxious at the vet’s office.
Try your best to soothe them and keep them relaxed until they’re taken for their turn. After that, all you can do is wait.
How to Care for Your Newly Neutered Maine Coon
Once your cat’s surgery is done, your vet will be able to tell you whether or not it’s safe to take them home. Of course, if you’re comfortable with it and if you can afford it, keeping your cat at the vet for post-operative care is ideal.
There will be professional vet assistants to keep an eye on them at all times and a vet will always be around in case of complications. In most cases, however, you’ll be able to take your cat home.
Make sure you talk to your vet about how to provide the best care for your cat while they’re recovering.
Questions to ask your vet before taking home your newly neutered Maine Coon:
- How soon can you expect the anesthesia to wane completely?
- How often should you clean the wound and how?
- What can you do your minimize your cat’s discomfort or pain?
- If there are prescribed medications, how do you administer them?
- How soon can you feed them and how much?
- How soon can you give them water to drink?
- How soon can you expect the wound to heal completely?
- What are bad signs you should be looking out for that would entail an immediate trip back to the vet’s office?
- What number can you call in case you have any concerns about the surgery?
Apart from all that, do your best to provide your cat with a safe and comfortable space. General anesthesia may take up to a day to wane and even then, your cat may still be disoriented.
To recover, your cat needs to rest. Place their bed in a clean, dimly lit room where you can keep an eye on them at all times. If you have other pets at home, make sure you keep them away so your cat can recover.
Lastly, make sure a clean litter box is close by and don’t fault them if they do their business outside it. They may simply be feeling disoriented.
Watch your Maine Coon as they recover. They’ll be able to show you what they’re ready for and what they’re not. Observe them and remember that your vet is a call away if you have any concerns.
Neutering, Castrating, Spaying: The Correct Term
The term “neutering” is commonly used incorrectly to refer to sterilization of male animals. In fact, both males and females can be neutered. For males, the specific term is “castration” while the term for females is “spaying.”
Male and female cats are also referred to in different ways. Intact male cats are called “toms” or “tomcats.” After castration, they are referred to as “gibs.”
For females, an unspayed cat is referred to as a “queen,” except when they are juvenile and are called “kitten.” Though uncommon, a spayed cat is sometimes referred to as a “molly.”
If you’re not in the business of breeding, neutering your Maine Coons is part of your responsibility as a pet owner.
Undergoing these procedures may seem costly but they bring about so many advantages to you as the pet parent and to your Maine Coon as well.