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.
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.”
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.