Feline Vasectomy: A Rational Birth Control Alternative to Neutering?

Two of the most common veterinary surgeries are neutering and spaying pets. Having cats neutered or spayed is possibly the most important health-care decision that kitty guardians can make for their kitties.

Feline vasectomy

Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Neutering is a surgical procedure which entails the removal of the cat’s testicles, and spaying entails the removal of the female cat’s uterus and ovaries. Both surgeries generally require minimal or no hospitalization.

These two surgeries offer kitties a lifetime of health and behavioral benefits. When female cats are spayed prior to their first heat cycle, the risk of mammary cancer may be greatly reduced. Spaying a female cat prevents the occurrence of uterine or ovarian cancer. Spayed females no longer go into “heat” every 3 weeks for 5 days during the breeding season and less likely to be escape artists.

In male cats, neutering surgery eliminates the risk of testicular cancer. Neutered males make much better pets. They are less likely to be aggressive, are generally calmer, much easier to handle and less likely to spray because the production of testosterone is greatly reduced.

But what may become a popular alternative to neutering is feline vasectomy. But, in reality, is vasectomy in male cats a rational birth control alternative method to neutering?

In humans, vasectomy is considered to be a safe and permanent method of birth control. Once semen no longer contains sperm, other methods of birth control are no longer needed. Additionally no evidence exists that vasectomy lowers testosterone levels or the sex drive in humans- as well as in male cats.

One of the main advantages of neutering a male cat is basically eliminating their sex drive. Intact male cats have one basic mission in life; impregnating female kitties. As supremely gifted escape artists, indoor intact male cats will do just about anything to get outdoors to get their job done. These cats are also fiercely territorial, and can risk serious injury since they can become extremely aggressive with rival tomcats.

Male cat neutering
Male cat neutering. Photo: O’Dwyer and Jones vets.

Since neutering is a relatively simple and effective procedure, it makes me wonder why on earth a kitty guardian could ever want to have their cat undergo vasectomy surgery.

Years ago I met a cat breeder who opted to have the surgery done one of her intact male cats. To say that I was stunned is a huge understatement. Her explanation actually gave me the willies! She claimed that this cat was keeping her breeding females very happy without the risk of pregnancy. While at first glance in this particular case, the vasectomy might appear to be a simple solution yet at the same time a female cat “bred” by a sterile male may cause a pseudo pregnancy interrupting her normal cycle.

However the surgery may be useful to efficiently control the population in feral cat colonies. According to the 2013 study published on Tufts Now.

“New research from Tufts University scientists shows that feral cats that undergo a vasectomy or hysterectomy could reduce a feral colony’s numbers more effectively than the traditional approach of neutering. This may be because vasectomized cats retain reproductive hormones, in addition to not being able to reproduce, and therefore protect their turf from sexually intact competitors.”

Although the proven health enhancing and positive behavioral changes afforded by neutering are widely accepted, there still remain some folks – mostly men – who balk at just the thought of having their cat neutered. Personally, I think that their reaction may be caused by an over-identification with their cat eliciting such an overwhelming negative response to what is responsible for an excellent outcome for both the cat and his guardian.

However, for those men who are squeamish about having the profile of their cat drastically altered, there is always the option for having testicular implants called ‘Neuticles’ inserted by their veterinarian at the time their beloved cat is neutered.

What are your opinions concerning feline vasectomy? Share your thoughts in a comment.

Note: For sake of complete clarity, a vasectomy is cutting the tube that carries the sperm.

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48 thoughts on “Feline Vasectomy: A Rational Birth Control Alternative to Neutering?”

  1. My spayed female cat developed imbalanced hormone issues and she became very lethargic, clingy with little confidence along with a stubborn UTI that will not go away. I don’t know if they even put her organs back in the right places. I deeply regret spaying her. I had to put her on natural medicine to help her get balanced for what I suspect is kidney disease or cystitis.

    With all due respect, I’m going the route of tubal ligation for both male and female animals from here on out because I’m concerned of the long term health effects on their endocrine system, I believe in staying as natural and intact as possible and respecting the nature of the animal. Somehow humans enjoyed feline/canine company for thousands of years before we discovered sterilization.
    One of my neutered males still behaves sexually regardless and my intact male is relatively calm and actually cries to come inside, instead of fighting to go out. Yes he will occasionally try to mate with my leg or something, but the habit is easy to redirect by making him lie down, distracting him with play/food or giving him calming herbs like lavender. It’s called training.

    Castration is not a guarantee and I think we should take the individual into account, instead of a one size fits all. Spayed and neutered cats/dogs still die of cancer on a mass scale regardless (thanks to junk pet food/vaccine adjuvants/heavy metals). The only reason why they don’t get cancer in their gonads is because they’re not even there, they just get the cancer everywhere else like my relatives’ pets.

    My number one concern is long-term health of their hormonal system. I can tolerate a little leg humping (nothing my friend’s neutered male dog didn’t do) if it means they will be healthy and live long. My intact male is still sweet, playful, lazy and affectionate when he’s ready. His behavior does not disrupt our daily life. I hope we all continue to stay on top of our Pet Health research.


    1. Great comment. Thank you, T. Hall. The problem is that we – humans – have indoctrinated ourselves into believing that the only way is spaying and neutering our cats by the removal of the organs. It is mandated by society. And reinforced by the fear of the procreation of feral cats and the alleged damage they do to the environment. But there is an alternative which for me is better. I agree with you.

      1. Sincerest thanks:)
        Yeah, so many vets have tried to scare me into neutering my kitten while I was calling around asking for vasectomy. No actual data was presented, just lots of judgment and fear mongering. I finally found a place that did it, just waiting for his body to finish growing. 18 months safest bet, I’m horrified when vets force sterilization on such a young animals????
        Blessings ????

          1. That may be the case for some, thankfully my neutered male is still the most masculine thing in my house, lol. You can always try giving the reason it is for their long-term health, which it is. That is what I always tell them and I doubt some would try to argue against that because at the end of the day that is what most of us want. That aside, we can continue to study up on their wild origins and emulate their needs as closely as possible. We can never lose with that 😉
            All the best with your kitties*

  2. maybe some of us have perfectly friendly male intact cats that don’t spray and we don’t want to alter them but are still trying to be humane. Assholes.

    1. Actually, I agree that intact male cats look better and I would rather that my cat was not neutered but he has to be because he is a rescue cat and the rescue centre insisted as part of their rules. I would prefer it that there was no obligation to neuter male cats. And the same goes for female cats. But practicalities dictate otherwise. You have a friendly intact male cat. But does he go outside? If he does it is possible that he might mate with a female cat owned by somebody with a similar viewpoint to yours. And then, what you have is a problem. But basically, I agree with what you say but I don’t think you should insult me because I wrote the article.

      1. He only goes out on leash. He lives with a female cat and they’re in love and going to have one litter and I was just researching this to find out my options for birth control after that. Looks like vasectomys are pretty rare for the most part? Sorry for being rude. I was more just talking to the people hating on people for not wanting to neuter their cats.

        1. “Only going to have ONE LITTER…” With all the cats dying in shelters all over the world, you have the audacity to add to the problem? Why not go volunteer at an animal shelter for a day before you decide to let your cat have a litter of kittens. I’m willing to bet you just might change your tune.

  3. A neutering makes a lot more sense to me. It eliminates breeding drive and makes for a more calm and comfortable male cat. It lessens the chance of spraying and makes for a happy household. I think I will stick to the whole neuter and spay idea.

    1. Moi aussi! Practicalities dictate neutering is best. My cat Gabriel who is yet to be neutered has spent 30 minutes having sex with my arm 😉 . He likes the fleece dressing gown I wear. He bites the cuff of the dressing gown or the skin of my wrist and starts trying to create babies…

    1. Not really because TNR is a program for feral cats while in this instance we are talking about individual house cats. The objectives are different because we are not so concerned about the behaviour of feral cats as we are of the behaviour of domestic cats.

      If you have a good suggestion for an article, Dee, please tell me.

      1. Cats are cats are cats…
        At least, that’s the way it lays in my mind.
        I’m sure that it’s different in the minds of sick, fanatical breeders.

      2. No article necessary.
        It should be common sense that traditional neutering is the better and safest course to take than any invasive surgery for any cat.
        The post surgical behavior of feral or domesticated cats doesn’t differ.
        Why would we think it would?
        People have some sort of mindset that ferals are “different”. They are only homeless, unloved, and frightened. They deserve every advantage that a domesticated cat has. They deserve more than a cat that is bred over and over ie. her teets falling on the ground, being mounted repeatedly, her spirit killed.
        It’s more than abusive. It’s evil.
        Anyone who breeds Siamese, Ragdolls, Persians, etc. need to burn in Hell.

  4. Elizabeth,

    I had that exact experience many years ago when I was breeding Siamese cats. A gentleman came to the house to purchase a male kitten. He wanted registration papers, so I told him that as soon as the kitten was neutered and he sent me verification from his veterinarian I would send the papers to him.

    He jumped off the chair on which he was sitting- DID put his hands over his crotch and looked totally stunned with an incredulous look on his face.

    I quickly reminded him that I was referring to the cat- Needless to say with his refusal to neuter the cat, I sent him out the door without the kitten.

    I will never forget that incident. It was just too hilarious for words. A supreme example of over identification with a cat.

  5. Elizabeth Ann Scarborough

    The accompanying protest, “Not on MY cat you don’t!” sort of sums up the attitude and the reason behind it.

    1. To me it reeks of male insecurities (the need to be macho and “male”) and the need to control and all the other male character traits. We can learn a lot about the male human from this.

  6. Elizabeth Ann Scarborough

    I’ve seen that reaction myself in men who are proud of their rantin’ rowdy boy cat and if you suggest maybe tom be retired as daddy material the male guardians clench their knees together, adapt a pained expression and put a hand over their crotches (pardon the pronoun). I am not exaggerating or maligning males. I have seen it more than once. Decent cat-loving men but as someone said earlier, maybe they over-identify with their cat a bit much.

  7. Most men with the attitude about wanting their cat to be “manly” quickly change their minds when it comes to spraying. They don’t want to accept that part of the natural cat and many a cat has lost his home and ended up at a kill shelter for that behavior.

  8. On the modification of declawing vs. neutering, there are health benefits to the cat when neutered. There are NO health benefits to declawing.

    1. Totally agree. The point I was making, playing devils advocate, is that both are modifications which make the cat in the eyes of some people better. That is all. It is that which links them.

  9. Elizabeth Ann Scarborough

    Well, I think it depends on the cat owner. A lot of men especially won’t neuter their tom cats because they want them to be manly cats as they are, “bad” habits and all. That’s not good for the cat overpopulation problem. Besides, my impression is that it is quite a bit more expensive than regular neutering and perhaps a little more hazardous for the cat.

    1. I didn’t realise that a lot of men didn’t want to neuter their male cats. I don’t particularly like it but totally accept the need for it. All men should be the same. It is impractical sadly to do otherwise.

  10. Elizabeth Ann Scarborough

    The only time I’ve heard of a vasectomy being done on a tomcat is in a fiction series about a feline “chat noir” detective named Midnight Louie. Part of Louie’s character, like that of the human tough detectives, is talking about the “babes,” and other tough guy talk that pretty well demanded he remain intact in order to remain Louie. So the author invented a scenario where the somewhat silly guardian of a female cat Louie fancied got mad when her cat was impregnated and catnapped Louie, taking him to her plastic surgeon (I forget why she had no vet at the time) and he didn’t know how to neuter a cat, so he performed a vasectomy. This allowed the author to keep Louie tomly without promoting the idea that it was okay not to alter your male cats and let them go around making kittens. I had the impression this procedure would be too expensive for most people to have done to their cat.

    1. Nice story. I have never heard of it being done to a cat. It is an interesting topic because technically a vasectomy is perfectly acceptable as it prevents unwanted cats. However, cat owners want more. They want a castration to change the cat’s character.

  11. Though I’m aware of one tragically fatal spay surgery which took the life of a beloved cat of a friend, I grew up in a family which always spays/neuters and have never had any problems of any kind with the operations or their results. If it works, don’t fix it (or in this case, DO “FIX” him/her!) 😉

  12. Years ago I was very close friends with a very responsible, cat loving Siamese breeder who was owned by a very famous Siamese stud kitty- a very sweet and loving kitty who adored people and wasn’t aggressive. His winnings gave him the top Siamese in the country. His disposition was so remarkable (and he was so gorgeous) that his stud “services” were highly in demand.

    The breeder couldn’t stand to cage him all the time – the cages were huge almost room sized areas that led out to outdoor enclosures- but she wanted him in the house with her since he was such a sweet cat. Her mother fashioned a type of diaper contraption with a hole cut out for his tail, so he could wander around the house and not have issues with spraying on objects. She monitored him carefully for when he needed “diaper” changes- LOL and somehow the idea took off and these products are now available for stud cats.

    But neutered males can spray also! Our white Oriental Shorthair -Sir Hubble Pinkerton- was very upset with a stray cat that was hanging around outside our bedroom window giving him a fit. He sprayed our room-marking his territory- the window sills, etc – bed and carpet and it was a huge mess. We ultimately had to replace the mattress, the bedspring, and the carpet- and thankfully he no longer is spraying the room. But it was really not fun at all for us. I was considering a diaper but thankfully all seems to be calmed down now, and we keep the bedroom shutters closed tightly so this won’t happen again.

    I have never had a “robot” neuter cat either. Just really sweet guys who are very friendly and easy to handle most of the time. Sir Hubble and Dr. Hush Puppy do get into squabbles at times, but in a few minutes they are curled up together sleeping peacefully wrapped up in each others paws.

  13. Michael, I wonder if this topic has made you consider a vasectomy rather than castration for Gabriel. If so, that is entirely your choice, but how does that sit with your desire to keep him as an indoor-only cat?

  14. Being territorial or having a sex drive is not limited to the males of any species (lol). Every spayed female I’ve had, has been far more territorial and assertive than any of the tom cats I’ve taken in.

    Neutering may reduce or eliminate physical desires, but it does not always remove the psychological ones. This is especially true of cats who were neutered later in life. If housed alone with little social interaction indoors, many stud cats can become highly territorial or hostile towards other cats. Breeders recognise that neutering won’t change that. Instead of selling them as pets, they choose to keep them as “teaser” toms as it’s a lifestyle they are already accustomed to.

  15. I think when shelters etc. say that “neutering improves the cat’s character”, they’re probably referring to the fact that spraying would make intact males very unwelcome house guests. This would be especially true in the USA where many people keep their cats indoor-only. Whilst I appreciate not all cats spray, there is no sure way to predict whether or not they will develop that habit when they reach sexual maturity. Maybe shelters believe people will be more likely to neuter pets for those reasons, than they would do for the sake of population control alone? Could this have led to the “character” benefits of neutering been over-stated or misinterpreted?

    Breeders with stud cats keep them in outdoor enclosures or a separate room in the home. That can be a very lonely and frustrating life for some cats. Many breeders use stud pants to enable the males to spend time indoors with the other cats and human family members.

    As I said before, I can see “teaser” toms being useful to breeders, but they are a small minority of cat owners. I just don’t think the majority of cat owners would feel the same way.

    1. The thing is that neutering a male takes a chunk of the maleness from him. It takes that aggressive territorial attitude away and the sex drive. It calms him down. The territory and the sex are core aspects of the life of a male cat and a female for that matter. I understand what you are saying that the character change is not always big. I suppose for men this aspect of neutering is a little difficult to accept although it has to be done.

  16. I’ve always had all my cats, male and female, fixed before they were four months old, and I never had a ‘robot’ cat. They were all sweet, cranky, intelligent, mischievous and would even pose for photos if I pulled a camera out. Years ago I had an intact male who was aggressive. His name was Rocky.

    Rocky came from an over-crowded cat rescue house run by a local group. He was the sweetest little thing. Very affectionate. The upper respiratory infection he had was easily the nastiest thing I’ve ever seen. One of my other cats, Angel, caught the bug because she was always mothering and cuddling with him. The rescue paid for treatment for both cats. My vet advised me that the next time he was not going to prescribe antibiotics, he didn’t want me to bring them in unless they stopped eating and drinking. I was to let the infection run its course. Angel recovered just fine.

    Every time Rocky was scheduled for his operation he came down with the upper respiratory infection. Thick white discharge oozing from his eyes and mouth. He never stopped eating and drinking. I called my vet and he said he couldn’t operate with him like that. I didn’t realize that Rocky had staked out the couch in my apartment as his territory. He was six months old the day he attacked me. I was cleaning the couch and he decided he didn’t like that. He attacked me the first time, I threw him off and he came back at me again. I managed to grab him by his neck and his tail and confined him to a spare room in the apartment. Then I called EMTs. They thought I’d been attacked by a dog. Took months for me to recover. I was bandaged from my right hand to my elbow, and my right leg from the knee down. I still have the scars. It took two days for the rescue group to arrange a space for Rocky at a cat clinic here. They wouldn’t pick him up; I took him out there. I told them the full story and provided his medical records too. The curious thing was Angel and my other cat Ruby (both females, both fixed) would have nothing to do with him after that. He’d sit at the door of his ‘jail cell’ and cry for attention and they completely ignored him.

    I’ve always had the traditional method of male neutering done and if I had a male cat I would definitely have them fixed that way.

    1. I give my cats as well as several feral cats we care for Lugol’s iodine 7drops, about 15mg iodine/potassium iodide per bowl once daily and they seldom/never get sick. I also crush a 30mg zinc tablet and add it to their food once daily. A cat’s metabolism relies on zinc for many health issues.

  17. My 6 year old tomcat “Matata” could be a source of “Cat research” as he is a totally “Intact Male’ but doesn’t know the method of mating.He occasionally “sprays” in certain select places in the house and “Bays” sometimes at night, all the attributes of a “STUD CAT”. Only difference is that he just doesn’t understand the meaning of sex and mating.Whenever his dam “Matahari” now 8 years of age comes into “HEAT” and does her usual cat rolls tempting him to mate he just doesn’t understand whats to be done.He still behaves like a kitten in her presence and sometimes even gets territorial and tends to fight with her. Otherwise he is perfectly normal and a very handsome and tough cat, a miniature lion or tiger in temperament and character.I personally feel that “CASTRATING” or “NEUTERING” cats totally changes their personality and makes them too docile akin to having “Robot cats” as pets .I feel “VASECTOMY” would be a better option for male cats.

    1. I personally feel that “CASTRATING” or “NEUTERING” cats totally changes their personality and makes them too docile akin to having “Robot cats” as pets .I feel “VASECTOMY” would be a better option for male cats.

      I think your opinion will be shared by a lot of people. I might do an article on this because in neutering a male cat we are deliberately and knowingly changing his character, which means we don’t like the true male cat character. This should be admitted.

      Perhaps Matata is somewhat asexual in mentality. Perhaps he is evidence that not all male domestic cats want to have sex with the first female that comes along. We do have this idea that all male cats are maniacs obsessed with sex.

      1. Whilst I’d agree that neutering reduces or eliminates some of the less desirable behaviours such as spraying, it does NOT totally change an individual cat’s character. If it did, then why aren’t you including female cats in this discussion?

        It’s a myth that all intact males are aggressive or sex mad. Every cat is an individual and I’ve seen for myself that late neutering does not change their basic personality. Assertive individuals retained those character traits after castration.

        To suggest that neutering turns cats into robots is ridiculous. Neutering is sterilisation, not a lobotomy.

        Rudolph: As a breeder I’m sure you must already be aware that not every intact male makes a good stud and you wouldn’t be the first to have a male with little or no interest in the female offered to them. Did it ever occur to you that they’re not robots who want to mate with every female in heat?

        1. Neutering is sterilisation, not a lobotomy.

          Made me smile. I would include females. I am just taking males as an example. I agree all cats are individuals. I have consistently said that. It is just that when we read about male neutering we always read about how it improves the cat’s character from the standpoint of people. That is the point I am making. The op. is not only about sterilising the cat. It is not a big point but one worth mentioning I believe.

        2. One of our neighbors has a wonderful cat named goofy who was very manly and loving. The owner had him neutered and it changed his character completely. He became very docile and wouldn’t even defend his food. He turned into a complete pushover The owner swore he’d never do that to another animal, ever!

          1. You probably know that I prefer the unneutered male look. I agree that there has to be neutering but it is sad. It changes the appearance of male cats. I don’t think spaying changes the appearance of females. It is unfair.

  18. A vasectomy will not discourage a cat from spraying or any of the other less desirable behaviours associated with tom cats. This would do nothing to increase their popularity as pets.

    However for breeders, “teaser” toms can be a very welcome addition to their cattery. A female who isn’t mated will repeatedly come into heat and this can sometimes cause ovarian cysts or womb infections. In the past breeders had to use hormones to control oestrus in their female cats, but those can also cause serious health problems. Prolonged use has even been known to stop some cats ever coming into heat or becoming pregnant again. The teaser tom is seen as a more natural solution for controlling when females breed. Often these males are retired studs, who may not be be considered suitable to sell on as indoor pets, but continue to be useful because they have a proven track record of keeping the females happy.

    1. Thanks for this Michele. I hadn’t heard of that before. Do you think it is an anomaly that we neuter toms in part to change their character? It means we don’t accept the true male cat character. Isn’t this the elephant in the room? It is a modification. Declawing is a modification too. We complain about declawing but praise neutering. I am playing devil’s advocate.

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