Are intact cats better hunters?

This is a follow up to Elisa’s article about a man who kept his cats intact (i.e. not neutered or spayed) because he believed that they were better hunters. He is employing his cats as working cats rather than as companions. As Elisa so passionately stated, he disregarded the unwelcome consequences of not neutering: procreation and more unwanted cats in shelters putting more pressure on them and their staff.

Testosterone does not make a cat a better hunter
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It got me thinking though; are intact cats better hunters? Is this guy right in one respect: will his working cats be more efficient in their task of catching snakes and rodents?

An intact cat will be more aggressive but does this translate to being a better hunter? It translates to mating with females more often and chasing off intruder cats and being more territorial. However, after 30 minutes research using the best books about domestic cats on the market and searching the internet I cannot find any evidence to suggest that intact male cats are better hunters.

I would have liked to find a definitive statement from ‘an expert’ that a lack of testosterone made cats less effective as hunters. However, such a statement does not exist as far as I can tell. As an aside, my neutered cat is an amazing and determined hunter. He is incredibly efficient and aggressive. I think the a man’s idea that an intact domestic cat is a better hunter is an emotional response to castration. It is not a nice thought for a man.

Testosterone is very beneficial to the male cat in the wild in terms of survival of himself and his species. However it is a hormone that is unhelpful in our relationship with the domestic cat. Did you know by the way that neutered male cats are much less likely to sustain an erection that intact cats? Common sense I guess. A study concluded:

“These data suggest that the presence of testosterone is a necessary prerequisite to sustain a pharmacologically induced penile erection in the cat.”

Philosophical Point

Another interesting side effect of neutering male cats is far more profound but more esoteric. It is worth thinking about this as it may affect our long term relationship with the domestic cat.

The male cats most likely to avoid being neutered are the most suspicious of people. They are the cats who are less likely to be good human companions. The cats most likely to be neutered are the more docile ones who are already good companions. We end with the most friendly and docile cats being neutered and unable to leave descendants. Therefore we are eliminating a personality trait in domestic cats which is beneficial to humans in their relationship with them. It is a philosophical point which I am sure most people won’t find that interesting but worth making nonetheless.

3 thoughts on “Are intact cats better hunters?”

  1. I think your lady point was very interesting. I neutered my males, but sometimes I wished I hadn’t. Spunky was so smart and his genes should have been passed on. Are we slowing evolution by neutering too early. Would chemical castration and contraceptives be better?

  2. The last two unneutered males in my colony were losing weight despite being fed as well as having their rodent snacks. Both were tested for FIV/FeLV and were negative. Once neutered the weight came back on them. A male cat can tomcat itself into starvation. I’ve often wondered whether the metabolism of an unneutered male is faster and burns more calories. The cats didn’t roam so it wasn’t due to hunting a distance away from their home.

  3. Neutered males will stil be producing tiny mounts of testosterone as a fractional function of other glands, it is never comletely eradicated.

    When you do a job that requires physical and mental effort, do you do the job to a better, repeatable standard when you are well nourished, well rested and alert or do you do a better job when you are starving hungry, malnourished, lacking in strengh, spending most of your life chasing females and fighting off other males whilst carrying a gut full of parasites, maybe with a few bacterial/viral infections?

    Neutered male cats that are well fed and have their welfare needs properly taken care of are very good hunters. The same applies to females.

    The cost of possibly losing the more affable personalities and their possibly affable offspring from the gene pool is more than covered I think by the tremendous improvments spay/neuter makes to the lives of cats ho undergo it.


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