Will neutering a cat calm him down?

Here is a 5000-word article on whether neutering a cat will calm him down:

Many cat owners wonder if neutering their male cat will help calm him down. Tomcats are known for exhibiting behaviors like spraying urine, aggression, roaming, and yowling, especially when they reach sexual maturity. Neutering or castration removes the testicles and thus the main source of testosterone. This causes male cats to exhibit fewer masculine behaviors. While neutering may help calm a cat down, it depends on the individual cat and his personality. There is no guarantee neutering will change all behaviors.

What is Neutering?

Neutering or castration refers to the surgical removal of a male cat’s testicles. It is typically performed around 6 months of age, before a kitten reaches sexual maturity. The surgery removes the main source of the hormone testosterone.

Without testosterone, male cats are unable to reproduce. Neutering eliminates the possibility of testicular cancer and greatly reduces the risk for prostate problems. It also prevents undesirable behaviors associated with mating such as spraying urine, roaming, and aggression.

Many animal shelters neuter cats before adopting them out to control the feral cat population. Many veterinarians also recommend neutering as it provides health and behavioral benefits.

Does Neutering Calm Cats Down?

Neutering cats can help calm certain behaviors, especially those associated with mating and aggression. When male cats reach sexual maturity around 6-18 months, their testosterone levels increase. This causes them to exhibit masculine behaviors like roaming, urine spraying, and inter-cat aggression.

Neutering reduces testosterone production and the need to find mates. After neutering, male cats are less likely to roam outside, spray urine, and fight with other cats. However, the effects depend on the individual cat. If behaviors are learned or hardwired, neutering may only reduce them.

Here are some behaviors that may improve after neutering:

  • Spraying urine/marking territory
  • Aggression towards other cats
  • Roaming/trying to escape outside
  • Excessive vocalization like howling/yowling

However, neutering is not guaranteed to resolve all behavioral issues. It depends on the cat, his environment, learned habits, and personality. Some behaviors may persist after neutering if they are independent of testosterone.

Other Benefits of Neutering

Aside from potential behavior changes, neutering cats provides other benefits:

  • Prevents testicular cancer which is common in intact males
  • Greatly reduces prostate issues later in life
  • Eliminates the risk of testicular injuries
  • Removes the urge to roam and fight other males
  • Makes litter box training easier

There are also benefits for cat owners. Neutered males are generally calmer and more affectionate. They are content to stay at home and not roam outside. Neutering eliminates the bothersome behaviors and risks associated with mating. There are also no unwanted litters of kittens.

Downsides of Neutering

While neutering has many benefits, there are some downsides to consider:

  • Permanent and irreversible procedure
  • Small risk of anesthetic complications
  • Potential for weight gain afterwards
  • Slight increase in risk of orthopedic injuries like ACL tears
  • Does not completely eliminate all behaviors in all cats
  • Loss of natural hormones and instincts

Most veterinarians agree the benefits outweigh the small risks. Owners wishing to neutered their cats should discuss any concerns with their vet. Proper nutrition and exercise can also minimize risks like obesity.

Overall neutering makes cats simpler to care for by removing hormones and the drive to mate. Just be aware it may not resolve all problematic behaviors if they are independent of testosterone.

When to Neuter a Cat

Most veterinarians recommend neutering cats around 5-6 months of age. Neutering before a kitten reaches sexual maturity provides maximum benefit. It removes testosterone before masculine behaviors develop and become hardwired habits.

Many shelters neuter kittens at 8-12 weeks before adopting them out. While very early neutering is controversial, neutering at 5-6 months has proven safe and effective.

Ideally a kitten receives his final vaccinations 1-2 weeks before neutering surgery. This gives the immune system time to respond to vaccines. It also allows kitten behaviors to develop normally with natural hormones until neutering.

Neutering adult cats over 6 months is also beneficial. It curbs the troublesome urges and behaviors stimulated by testosterone. However, any ingrained habits may persist after neutering an adult cat. The earlier a kitten is neutered, the less likely unwanted behaviors are to develop.

The Neutering Procedure

Neutering or castration is surgery performed under general anesthesia. It involves making a small incision and removing both testicles. The cat is hospitalized for a few hours before and after surgery.

  • No food after midnight night before surgery.
  • Drop off cat in morning and pre-anesthetic bloodwork run.
  • IV catheter placed, anesthesia administered.
  • Scalpel incision into scrotum and both testicles removed.
  • Internal sutures to close off blood vessels and tissues.
  • External skin sutures or tissue glue used to close incision.
  • Cat recovers from anesthesia and goes home same day.
  • Elizabethan collar provided to prevent licking stitches.
  • Stitches or glue reabsorb within 7-10 days.

It is crucial cats avoid licking the incision site as it heals. An Elizabethan collar is often placed until sutures fall out. The cat needs rest and restriction from activity during recovery. Pain medication may also be prescribed for a few days.

Most cats fully recover within 1-2 weeks with no issues. Neutering is a very common, safe surgery when performed by an experienced vet. It permanently sterilizes male cats so they cannot reproduce.

Neutering and Behavior

While neutering often improves cat behavior, it depends on the individual cat and his personality. Here are some neutering effects on feline behavior:

Spraying Urine/Marking

Up to 90% of spraying is eliminated if done before 6 months of age. Neutering adult cats also helps curb this territorial behavior.


Greatly reduces male aggression and need to fight over mates. Benefits are maximized if done young.


Neutered cats have less desire to seek mates, so roam close to home. Not foolproof though since they can still escape.

Excessive Vocalization

May reduce yowling and crying for mates, more noticeable if neutered young.

Obnoxious Sexual Behaviors

Eliminates male sexual behaviors like humping objects and people’s legs.


Neutering may slightly improve anxious temperaments but depends on the cat.

When Behavior Problems Persist

While neutering often improves feline behavior, it is not a cure-all. Some problematic behaviors may persist after neutering, including:

  • Aggression towards other cats or people
  • Inappropriate elimination like urinating outside litter box
  • Destructiveness like scratching furniture
  • Excessive vocalization and meowing
  • Repetitive behaviors like wool sucking
  • Problematic hunting behaviors and attacking people

If these behaviors persist after neutering, consider:

  • Behavior modification training
  • Environmental enrichment with toys, cat trees, etc.
  • Pheromone plugins
  • Anti-anxiety medication from a vet
  • Consulting an animal behaviorist

While neutering reduces hormonal influences, some habits can become ingrained. Neutering may only reduce certain problematic behaviors, not eliminate them. Work with your vet and focus on environment, routine, and stress reduction. Medication and professional behavioral treatment may also be needed.

Will Neutering Change a Cat’s Personality?

Neutering cats does not drastically alter their personality. It targets behaviors related to mating, roaming, and aggression. Neutered cats may exhibit the following personality changes compared to intact tomcats:

  • Less desire to fight, injure, or bully other cats
  • Decreased territorial urine spraying and marking
  • Less roaming, wandering, and trying to escape outside
  • Less caterwauling and vocalizing, like loud howling
  • Less compulsion to mate with female cats
  • Decreased sexual behaviors like humping objects or people
  • Overall more mellow, relaxed, and easygoing nature

However, core personality traits remain the same after neutering. Shy anxious cats may still be shy and anxious. Bold confident cats remain bold. Lazy lap cats are still lazy. Hyperactive kittens stay hyperactive.

The most notable change is decreased driven behaviors related to mating and testosterone. A neutered cat no longer needs to go out searching for mates. Neutering reduces but does not necessarily eliminate all problematic behaviors. Personality is a combo of natural temperament, experience, and hormones.

Behavior Problems Unrelated to Neutering

While neutering cats can reduce many behavior issues, some problems are unrelated to hormones and mating behaviors:

Litter Box Issues

Improper elimination outside litter box may stem from medical issues, stress, environment, or preference. Neutering is unlikely to resolve it.


Chewing, scratching, and destructive behaviors often indicate boredom and lack of enrichment. Neutering does not fix these.

Excessive Vocalization

While neutering may reduce some yowling for mates, other vocal habits may persist.

Unsocial/Fearful Behavior

Being uncomfortable with people or other pets stems from personality and socialization, not hormones.

Repetitive Behaviors

Compulsive habits like sucking wool, fabric, or self-mutilation are psychological issues.

Predatory Behaviors

Chasing other pets or attacking people are innate hunting behaviors not addressed by neutering.

Consult your vet and a professional animal behaviorist for undesirable behaviors that do not improve post-neutering. Do not immediately assume neutering will fix all issues. Determine the root causes of behavior problems to best address them.

Preventing Behavior Problems

The best way to avoid future behavior problems in cats is early spaying and neutering. By 4-6 months of age, kittens should be:

  • Spayed or neutered
  • Received all core vaccines
  • Socialized well with people and other pets
  • Introduced to brushing, nail trims, travel, etc.
  • Taught basic manners like not biting or scratching when playing

Proper early socialization and spay/neuter prevents many undesirable habits and anxieties. Correct naughty behaviors right away and never encourage aggression. Provide ample cat-friendly outlets like toys, cat trees, and play time. Stop problems before they start with proper kitten care and training.

While neutering is important, it will not undo bad habits or poor socialization that becomes ingrained by adulthood. Make sure kittens grow into friendly, confident, well-adjusted cats through positive experiences.

Should I Neuter My Cat?

Neutering provides more benefits than downsides for most household cats. The pros of neutering include:

  • Prevents reproduction and unwanted litters
  • Greatly reduces roaming and risk of getting lost
  • Makes cats less inclined to fight and get injured by other males
  • Reduces risk of certain cancers and diseases
  • Curbs urine spraying, territorial marking, yowling, humping, etc.
  • Generally creates a calmer, more affectionate cat

The main downsides are potential weight gain, small surgical risk, and slightly increased injury risk. Overall veterinarians heavily lean towards recommending neutering due to the many benefits for cat health and behavior.

Intact tomcats have more problematic behaviors and health risks than neutered males. Neutering eliminates sexual frustration, mating behaviors, and the drive to roam and fight other males. This creates a more docile, relaxed cat.

Discuss any concerns with your veterinarian. But for most owners, neutering their male cat improves behavior, reduces health risks, and creates a happier pet. It also prevents contributing to cat overpopulation and saves lives.


Neutering or castration can curb problematic behaviors in male cats associated with mating and testosterone. These include spraying urine, roaming, aggression, and persistent vocalizing. Neutering is safest and most effective around 5-6 months of age before testosterone fuels undesirable habits.

While neutering often improves behavior, it may not resolve all issues. Personality, habits, genetics, and environment also influence a cat’s behavior. Work with your veterinarian and an animal behaviorist for ongoing problems post-neutering. Proper training and enrichment are also crucial.

There are many benefits to neutering male cats beyond potential behavior changes. Health risks are reduced and cats become less inclined to roam and fight. This creates a more relaxed, docile, and affectionate cat. For most owners, neutering improves life with their male cat.

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