cat behavior

Dr. Theresa Hess of Oradell Animal Hospital, Paramus NJ, Discusses The Importance of Cat Neutering

Posted by d2030476 on March 07, 2012  /   Posted in General Information, Questions and Answers

Why is it important to neuter my cat?

A male cat’s reproductive system has an impact on your own household, as well as society as a whole. There are over 6-8 million homeless animals that enter animal shelters yearly, with over half of these animals being euthanized due to over population, limited space, health concerns, and behavior issues. 

Neutering your cat requires a surgical procedure that excises (removes) the testicles. This surgery is recommended prior to your cat reaching puberty (typically by 6 months of age). There is minimal recovery associated with this procedure, and often the cat leaves the hospital the same day as the surgery. There is usually no bleeding or swelling associated with the operation and pain medicine and antibiotics are rarely indicated once the patient has been discharged from the hospital.

The main reason to neuter your cat is to reduce or eliminate the incidence of objectionable behaviors (roaming, fighting, and urine marking) that are normal in the feline world, but unacceptable in the human world. More than 90% of cats neutered will display a reduced tendency to roam around the neighborhood and fight, with a 60% in reduction of these behaviors immediately after the surgery. Over 90% of neutered cats will also have a reduced tendency of urine marking (spraying urine in inappropriate places), with an approximately 80% reduction in this behavior immediately following surgery. Cats neutered prior to puberty do not develop secondary sex characteristics, including a more muscular body, thickening around the face (shields), and spines on the penis.

Neutering your pet is also highly cost-effective. The cost of surgery for your cat to be neutered is far less than the costs associated with caring for and raising a litter of kittens. It also beats the cost of treatment when your unneutered tom cat escapes and gets into fights with the neighborhood stray! Furthermore, neutering eliminates the risk of developing testicular cancer later in life.

Myth – early neutering is more likely to prevent objectionable behaviors as opposed to those cats neutered at a later age. Regardless of age, the same reduction in behaviors is seen after surgery.

Myth – neutering your cat will make him fat. Lack of exercise and overfeeding will pack on the extra pounds, not neutering. Your cat will remain fit and trim as long as you monitor his caloric intake and provide him with adequate exercise.

Myth – kittens neutered early will be stunted or small. This is not true; however, your kitten will not develop a more masculine appearance.

Myth – early neutered kittens will have a narrowed urethra that will predispose them to a urinary obstruction. There is no proven association with early neutering and feline lower urinary tract disease.

Please be a responsible pet owner. Neutering your cat is the only 100% effective method of birth control.

[doctor name = “Theresa Hess”]

Cat fight for Laverne and Shirley

Posted by d2030476 on December 13, 2010  /   Posted in General Information, Questions and Answers

Q:  My name is Pat Davis, and I read you column and know you offer good suggestions to help with pet problems.  I have owned 2 cats, sisters, for the past 6 years. Recently I went on vacation and left them
at my daughter’s house for 5 days.  She had them in her finished recreation room in her basement.  I brought all their dishes, food and toys, even a blanket so they would have familiar things.  I know there was a problem with the one cat (Shirley) because she wasn’t used to hearing someone walking overhead and she kept hiding.  When I picked them up and brought them home on Sunday, everything seemed fine and normal until Tuesday morning and then I don’t know what happened.  I was in my kitchen when I heard what sounded like them fighting and the larger cat (Laverne) was chasing Shirley down the hall into my bedroom and had her cornered against the wall.  Shirley was so scared that she actually wet the floor.  I separated them and nothing has been normal since.  This all happened in the middle of September.  Laverne stalks Shirley when she is on the floor and will attack her.  Obviously, Shirley is now terrified of her and will hiss and growl every time Laverne gets close.  There are times when she will sleep on the sofa within a few feet of each other, but as soon as Shirley moves off the sofa, Laverne will go after her and physically attack her.  I can not leave them alone together at night or when I go I keep Laverne in my bedroom,  food and litter  box included.  There are times when I am right in the room and Laverne with go right after Shirley.  I am at my wits end and don’t know what to do except get rid of Laverne. 
This is breaking my heart because I love them both, but I don’t know what else to do.  I hope you will respond quickly and can offer a suggestion to resolve this problem because this can’t keep up much longer.  

Thank you,

A:  This is not the first time I have heard a story similar to yours.  When two cats have lived harmoniously together, and after a sudden change, like a vacation or a veterinary stay due to illness, suddenly there is an aggression issue between the cats.  The first thing to do is separate the cats and cool every one down, as you have done.  In some cats, gradually reintroducing them will work.  In more severe cases, there ends up being an attacker/victim situation, where one cat is feeding into the other and the reverse ends up also being true.  These cases are very hard to resolve.  Separation is still the first step, but many of them need to be evaluated to see if reintroduction is going to be allowable by both cats.  The victim is anxious and therefore is less accepting of the attacker, whereas the attacker is fueling the anxiety of the victim.  Often both cats need to be addressed in these cases.  If they ultimately cannot be safe together then they need to be permanently separated either in your home or by sending one cat to a new home.  But before you reach that point, have your veterinarian or a behaviorist evaluate your options.

 [doctor name=”Tracy Kroll”]

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