When should I neuter my male cat

When to neuter a British Shorthair male is a divisive and complex question. We consider the different approaches and explain our advice.

Male British Shorthair cat what age to neuter

When to neuter a male cat is a question that we are asked by every one of our new kitten owners. There is a lot of conflicting advice out there, and opinions differ depending on who you are talking to. The issue seems to be particularly divisive when it comes to neutering male British Shorthair cats. This article identifies the common approaches, and then explains what age we advise neutering a male cat, and why.

There are two schools of thought on when to neuter a male cat:

1. Neuter your male cat as late as possible

This school of thought is taken by many breeders and says:

  • Leave neutering for as long as possible and preferably until the cat is at least one year old

  • Because neutering reduces the testosterone levels of a cat, a male British Shorthair cat will not grow to his full potential if neutered too early

  • A male British Shorthair cat will not develop the lovely jowls so associated with the breed if he is neutered too early

  • It is healthier for a cat to do most of his growing before his hormones are interrupted by neutering

The second school of thought what age to neuter a cat says:

2. Neuter your male cat as early as possible

This school of thought is common among vets, and some breeders, and says:

  • Neuter as early as possible, at around 2-4 months old, or even earlier because:

  • Neutering early has been shown to have better recovery times for the cat

  • Neutering early is the only way to be sure to avoid the undesirable behaviours of a tom cat, unwanted pregnancies and the risks that a roaming tom cat is exposed to

  • Neutering early, before the kittens leave for their new home, is the only way to be certain that kittens are not going to an unfortunate life with a 'back yard breeder' and to remove the risk of unwanted pregnancies

Our advice on when to neuter

Here is a quick video summary - have a watch, and read on for more information about how to tell when your male is about to mature....

We have no neutered British Shorthair males, so we cannot make a direct comparison between early neutering and late neutering from our own actual experience. But we have researched the issue. Here is our advice on neutering for male British Shorthair cats, intended to be family pets:

  • There have been some studies on early neutering in dogs. These studies suggested that there was a potential link between early neutering and some bone growth disorders that are quite common in the dog population. It is believed that hormones play a role in telling a dog's bones when to stop growing, so if they are neutered early this can sometimes be affected. These studies apply only to dogs, and the same issues have not been found to apply to cats. Therefore the evidence suggests that, whilst bad for dogs, early neutering for cats is not a problem. 

  • We suggest neutering an indoor cat before 6 months old at the latest, or earlier if any signs of sexual maturity are exhibited, since sexual maturity in a male cat almost always leads to very undesirable behaviours.

  • Please note: if your cat is going to be an outdoor cat, and you want to wait until 6 months or later, it is important that you do not let him outside before he is neutered. As he approaches sexual maturity he will get more testosterone. The higher levels of testosterone will encourage him to roam further and be more aggressive with other cats. When cats fight they are at a moderately high risk of getting infected with FIV and FELIV. 

  • There is no scientific evidence that early neutering reduces the final size of a cat, and some studies have shown that cats neutered early actually had slightly larger adult weights. Neutered cats gain weight after neutering because their metabolisms slow down, so they get bigger and chunkier.

  • The large jowls on an entire British Shorthair male are linked to testosterone: but once neutered the testosterone levels drop anyway, reducing the jowl size, no matter what age the cat is when he is neutered.

  • Once a male begins to mature sexually, he will display very undesirable behaviours, that will take away from your enjoyment of you cat as a pet, and cause stress and disharmony in your home. 

  • We do understand that there may be anecdotal evidence of later neutering leading to bigger cats, but without direct comparisons made in proper studies, there is little conclusive evidence. There is as much anecdotal evidence to support the alternative view that cats get bigger after neutering, and some scientific evidence. So even the anecdotal evidence is inconclusive!

  • We also understand the desire to let your cat grow to as near an adult as possible without interfering with their hormones.

  • But, if a male cat sexually matures, neutering will not always reverse all of the changes - some of them may stay for life...including spraying and aggression.....and this can lead to a need to rehome.

age to neuter a male cat testosterone


Signs of a male cat nearing sexual maturity

Male British Shorthairs usually reach sexual maturity at around 12 months of age, but it can happen as early as 6 months of age! If you are decided on leaving neutering for as long as possible, be on the watch for these signs:

  • Urine becoming more pungent: if you have just cleaned the litter tray, and within a few hours you can smell your male cat’s urine, that is a sure sign that he is on his way to sexual maturity.

  • Showing a lot of interest in outside, or trying to get outside: this is a sign he is beginning to look for females - because his hormones are kicking in.

  • Spraying, or practising spraying: if you ever see him standing by a wall, or piece of furniture with his tail in the air and his bottom shaking, you know he is either spraying or getting ready to - get him neutered immediately.

  • Yowling: this may be quite a subtle sign, but if he starts miaowing in a high pitched, yowly way for no apparent reason, it could be him starting to call to attract female cats in the area.

  • More aggressive behaviour than usual: again, this might be quite subtle - don’t expect the first sign to be a huge attack or bite from your cat. It may just be that his play gets slightly more aggressive, or he starts looking at you differently, or stalking you.

Signs of sexual maturity in a male cat

As you can see, many of these signs are very subtle, and unless you really understand cats and the signs of sexual maturity, it can be easy to miss them. Once a male cat is sexually mature, he will almost certainly:

  • spray: mark your house with oily, pungently scented cat spray

  • urine mark: wee all over your house!

  • defecate on the floor: this is less common, but is a way or marking territory

  • yowl ...a lot!

  • become more aggressive and less affectionate with you  

So, no matter what age you decide to neuter your male cat, be on the lookout for subtle tell tale signs of sexual maturity. If you do decide to leave it as long as possible, just be aware that some of the behaviours caused by sexual maturity in a male cat are not always reversed by neutering once they have set in.  


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