Does neutering a cat change his personality?

Timmy an unneutered male cat

This is an interesting question. Neutering changes behavior but not personality. Is that possible? The best book on cat health¹ says this:

“Neutering does not change a male cat’s personality…”

The book then goes on to describe how the operation changes certain aspects of a male cat’s behavior such as:

  • reducing or removing the urge to roam,
  • eliminating or reducing sexual impulses,
  • reducing or removing the aggressive behavior that accompanies sexual impulses.

Well, my initial reaction to this assessment from the high quality veterinarians who authored the book is that a male cat’s personality is changed because he doesn’t fancy the girls anymore. Also he likes to stay at home and snooze. Aren’t these personality changes?

There is obviously a fine line between behavior and personality but for me personality drives behavior. If behaviour changes it is because the personality has changed.

Another well know and respected book says this about neutering and behavior…

“has been shown to influence social behavior toward cats from outside the social group…[there is] and absence of maternal and sexual behaviours…another behaviour that is reduced in neutered colonies is aggression to members of neighbouring groups….²”

What does that mean in simple language?  Neutered male cats are more accepting of newcomers (cats) to the household in multi-cat homes. That is, inline with the first comment, neutered cats are less aggressive due to a reduction in sex drive.

Neutering increases body weight. This is because he becomes more docile. Exercise will help. Hunting instincts are unaffected by neutering. After neutering male cats can become:

“more affectionate and more orientated towards people¹”

This seems to be a personality change (for the better with respect to people). If neutering takes place later in life the male cat may retain his sex drive after the operation.


Note:

  1. Cat Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook
  2. The Welfare of Cats

Comments

Does neutering a cat change his personality? — 7 Comments

  1. Neutering does affect a cats personality 100%. In the Worli Fish market in Mumbai a cat named “Radhe” is the pet of all the fisher-folk and shop-keepers for its intelligence and docile behaviour.. He is abnormally large compared to other cats and i have written an article on him on “P.O.C”. This cat was ferocious and regularly got into cat fights, one such fight almost costing it its life. Luckily it was taken to the vet and after a long hospitalization and castration was returned to the fish market. Its personality was totally altered after that, a very docile cat and slightly obese.Castrating a male cat does definitely alter its personality or behaviour.This is my personal observation for the benefit of other cat owners.

    • Your observation in such a direct and certain way is valuable. We used to feed a cat called Timmy who was not neutered (he is the cat in the picture on this page). He was thin and he wandered everywhere. He got into fights and got two abscesses requiring vet treatments. He was neutered by someone and became fat and we never saw him again. I guess he is asleep on a safa somewhere.

  2. Well said. Neutering most definantly has an effect on a cats personality. They seem to be gloomy for awhile after the procedure. You and Rudolph both hit the nail on the head.

    Off topic: I and a classmate have been struggling to get our three other classmates to attend our assigned group study session. Since it’s all online, these online groups are mandatory to get a good grade. Anyway, it was my week to lead and we had some troubles getting everyone to the same website at the same time. We have several we use… Anyway, we did our best to have our meeting and I reported our efforts to our instructor. When he graded the report I handed in he noted “Sometimes it’s more like herding cats, rather than gathering students…” :) Ain’t it the truth!

  3. Neutered cats changing purr-sonality is about hormones, after the castration of a young cat it takes those hormones a week or so to settle down.
    With a much older cat it takes longer, you can actually take a battered stinking old tom from the street and change his life by neutering him, he eventually becomes calm and content, no spraying, no wandering looking for a mate.
    We have a ginger cat lives not far from us who ‘did his rounds’ for 10 years, fathering many kittens, until he didn’t go home one day and when he was found at last his owner took the advice to have him castrated.
    Now we never see him, he kept wandering for about another month but now she says he’s happily enjoying home life.
    It does seem a shame in one way that he was forced to change his lifestyle at his age and it’s far better to neuter a tom cat at 6 months so that ‘what he’s never had he never misses’

  4. I don’t know how anyone can live with an entire male cat.I adore cats but a tom has a very distinctive smell which permeates the atmosphere.
    I’ve taken older rescue cats for castration and when they’ve wet themselves on the way the car has ponged for weeks despite constant and scrupulous cleaning of it.
    I wouldn’t say cats are gloomy after the op,they are just not themselves until the anaesthetic has gone from their system.

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