Is a male cat still fertile after neutering?

By Elisa Black-Taylor

Male cat after neutering

Male cat after neutering. Photo by Elisa.

So, you’ve been a responsible cat owner and had your male cat neutered. What a lot of cat owners don’t realize is that a male cat can still be fertile up to 4­-8 weeks after being neutered. Most of the sources I checked agree on the 4­-6 week time frame, but Nine Mile Vets reported 8 weeks as the cut­off period for neutered male fertility1.

This information came as a surprise to me when I first learned it a few years back. I knew than men who undergo vasectomies have to be tested several weeks after surgery to be sure the sperm aren’t going to create any surprise children. I wonder how many cat owners are hit with a surprise pregnancy when their male is neutered, but they’re female cat hasn’t been spayed and is in heat?

Nine Mile vets apparently is in the United Kingdom, where it’s more discouraged than in the U.S. for young kittens to be neutered. This U.K. vet recommends four to six months of age for both male and female kittens, as do those in the U.S. The shelter my daughter and I rescued from will do a kitten as soon as it reaches three pounds in weight.

Personally, I agree with the four months being the best age. Any older and you risk the female going into heat, where she can become pregnant as young as five months old. Six months is average, but during spring mating season, or in a multi­cat household a cat may reach maturity at a younger age.

Not only does allowing a young cat to give birth to a litter where it will add to the overpopulation of cats, it’s quite a bit more dangerous for the mother. It’s not a good idea to allow what’s essentially a not fully developed feline to even be allowed one litter, due to the unborn kittens zapping nutrients the developing cat needs to grow strong and healthy. The pregnant queen may not survive, and her kittens may be born severely underweight or dead.

Male cat neutering is a simple surgical procedure where the testicles are removed from the body. During normal kitten development, a male kitten begins life with the testicles inside the scrotum. If both testicles haven’t descended by the time the cat is about eight months of age. A condition known as cryphorchid or monorchid refers to a cat with only one descended testicle. If neither testicle descends the medical term is bilateral cryphorchid.

These cats are usually less fertile than intact males, but they still need to be neutered. The surgical procedure will cost more since the vet has to go on a “seek and destroy” mission for the testicle(s). In a report done by U.C. Davis, cats with undescended testicles actually need neutering to prevent future health issues. These cats have a much higher risk of malignant testicular cancer than cats with their “boy parts” in the place they should be.

Please share this information with your friends who are planned to have their cat neutered. They may mistakenly believe their male cat will be unable to impregnate their female as soon as the surgery is performed. Even sites such as Yahoo and eHow have misleading information that states a neutered male is sterile immediately. Have any of the readers here ever experienced a surprise litter for this reason? Most of the people I’ve informed about this had no idea.

I’ve included a photo of how a male cat appears after neutering. There are two tiny marks where the testicles were removed. It took longer to clean the ears than to perform the procedure.



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Is a male cat still fertile after neutering? — 19 Comments

  1. Thanks Elisa. I presume it is because sperm is in the system still after neutering. Are you sure it is 48 weeks after the op.?

    Why do Nine Mile Vets say 8 weeks? Yahoo Answers says 49 days? I am confused 😉

    • It’s 4-8 weeks Michael. Please fix that for me. In a man it’s 6 weeks after a vascectomy so I would think that would be about right. 🙂

  2. Really surprised at this as I thought castration, which is more thorough than a vasectomy, took away the urge to mate altogether, you’d think hormones would settle down very quickly after the whole set of equipment was removed wouldn’t you?

  3. Yes, the drive remains and active sperm are still present for a while.
    Castration, as it used to be, doesn’t happen here anymore. Now, the testes are, actually, cauterized/burned down to just nubs.
    Are you guys cringing now?

    • I bloody well am cringing! Sometimes, at an emotional level, I think castration or cauterizing a cat’s balls is horrible, barbaric and cruel but….sadly it has to be.

      • Oh Michael, a male cat isn’t emotionally attached to his boy parts. He doesn’t go around fretting that neutering will make him less of a man cat. And I didn’t realize the cancer risk is greater for cats with undescended testicles. Plus the spraying and urine smell issues are corrected with neutering. And recovery is so fast for the boys. Our Jasper had a lot of pain but he’s the only male we had to give pain meds for 3 days.

    • That’s new to me Dee, I don’t think any vets here do it that way yet, but maybe it will come.
      It sounds worse to me than simply removing the testicles which only takes seconds, I cringe thinking of cauterising done by someone not expert at it, leaving the cat’s skin burned.
      Like laser declawing ‘supposed’ to be kinder, well it isn’t!
      It does take time for hormones to settle down, some people are disappointed thinking their older tom cat will come home transformed.
      I agree with you Michael, the whole thing is barbaric and cruel and we really have no right to interfere with cats that way, but we have no choice since we domesticated them.

  4. I was allowed to watch the sedation process. Two injections while I held the carrier open. The vet warned me to be ready to shut the door of it as soon as he did the second injection. The cat was totally asleep within a few minutes.

    Michael I get the feeling you have a spin-off article in here somewhere. Just can’t put my finger on the topic…

  5. We just got our brother cats done a week ago. I would never be daft enough to re-introduce them to their sister who we aren’t getting spayed until they have fully healed themselves. I think if someone were to think about it logically; I wouldn’t be re-introducing them until their surgical site had completely healed, and probably only after their fur had grown back in. But… =\ It probably should become required protocol for vets to tell their patient’s caretakers when they can be re-introduced to intact females without the risk of pregnancy. Did any of this make sense?

    • Are you saying there should a pause after the operation? If so is it to prevent pregnancy or to let the wound heal? I don’t understand it to be honest ( 😉 ) but thanks for visiting and commenting.

      • I think there should be a pause to both let the wound heal and to prevent pregnancy. Our boys’ hormones spiked hours after their neuters. To the point where they were all mounting each other for hours after just to get rid of the feeling. Then their fights were bad and seriously hormone-driven up until about 7 days later, when their fights turned into swatting at each other with vengeance. Now after 14 days they’re acting like kittens with each other again, but they’re still mildly interested in hearing a female yowl, so… I’m waiting the full 8 weeks.

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