The day I fought with my vet over the size of my cat’s penis

Are men reluctant to neuter their male cat? Sarah Hartwell’s article on men’s emotional barriers to neutering their male cat made me smile and reflect on my own attitudes.

Gabriel almost grown up

Gabriel almost grown up

In summary, I think I am fair in saying that Sarah’s conclusion is that men struggle with neutering (‘castrating’ but don’t say that word) their male cat because:

  1. men regard their male cat as a son and you wouldn’t castrate your son would you?
  2. men’s innate desire to spread their seed is vicariously lived through their male cat.
  3. the male cat is a phallic symbol. As Sarah says, “the unneutered tomcat is an extension of its male owner’s ego and libido”. Perhaps, this is another way of saying what I have stated in 2.
  4. When a man asks a vet to castrate his cat, psychologically he feels that he is being castrated.

I searched my own mindset on this. I recall that I had an argument with my vet about the age at which my then kitten should be neutered. I fought hard to have him neutered as late as possible but within the usual time frame because I had read in an authoritative book on cat health that early neutering can leave a cat with a small penis! I accepted that he had to be neutered but I did all I could to protect his willy!

I was definitely relating to my cat as my son at that time. I did not feel as if I was being castrated and neither was the operation an attack on my ego or libido but instinctively I wanted my boy cat to retain as much of his manhood as possible.

Also I read that early neutering can make a male cat more feminine in appearance. I wanted my boy to grow up to be a man! Another example of humanising (anthropomorphising) my sweet boy cat.

I had raised him from a tiny 7 week old kitten and was hopelessly attached to him as a father is to his son.

The argument I had with the vet was so bad I changed veterinary surgeries. As my cat was a rescue I had to use the vet surgery recommended by the rescue organisation. And this gave the vet some power over me. Anyway I stood my ground and got my way but when I presented my arguments to another vet at the clinic saying that I was making sure my cat had a decent sized penis it must have seemed as if I was nuts. I probably was.

P.S. He is now over three-years-of-age and his manhood is very impressive…..

Sarah’s article on the subject.

FB comments (see below)


The day I fought with my vet over the size of my cat’s penis — 6 Comments

  1. Michael, I can relate to your feelings on this subject. I am a woman and had the same feelings about neutering the kitten I raised. There is something different about adopting and raising a kitten compared to a cat. The kitten is always your baby and, like any parent of a baby, you are very protective. I waited until he was ten months old, giving him time to grow into his “maleness.” I hated to see his precious body cut and changed. It was part of him and I loved every inch of him. I took a few pictures pre-neuter to remember my boy as he was born. Alternatively, I didn’t hesitate to spay an adult female feral cat I took in, especially after experiencing her going into heat and being very hard to live with. Of course, I would never want her to have kittens and better for her health and my household she be spayed. But with the male kitten, this is your kitten/baby and you are taking away the symbols of his maleness and reminded of it everytime he turns around. Maybe if I’d waited too long and he began some unwanted spraying, for example, I’d feel more relief than sad to have to neuter him. I am sure most people don’t get how I (and you?) feel. He’s almost three now and still my baby.

  2. I knew spaying and neutering causes a degree of neoteny, and I’ve always wanted my cats to grow up to be physically AND emotionally healthy adults as much as possible. I know it’s a little trade off, but I didn’t know (based on timing) that it could have a high degree of impact. That’s interesting and could answer why some cats have a degree of difficulty socializing with each other, in a mature (non mating obsessed) adult way. Very interesting.

  3. personally, i was more than ready to have our 4 fosters(3 are male btw)neutered/spayed asap, but it was my GF that delayed(and SHE is a woman). i think men that ALREADY have issues will project them, & if they find that THAT is the case they need to sit down with someone & talk about it…just not their vet. 🙂

  4. Guess many men feel that way. I know my husband felt the same way, God rest his soul. And at first I couldn’t understand the attitude. Over the years, I realized what the reasons were. Just have to deal with men gently.

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