How Much is it to Neuter a Cat? Exploring Cat Neutering Costs

Medical articles
two cats with wide eyes because they're thinking about getting neutered.

Cat ownership is an exciting adventure. People of all lifestyles and backgrounds are drawn to the idea of stocking their houses with miniature panthers, but there’s more to cat ownership than just pet stores and posting toe bean pics on social media. 

Facts About Neutering a Cat 

Healthcare is vital, so establishing a relationship with a veterinarian is a great first step. The early visits should involve discussions with the veterinary team about a cat’s healthcare needs - one of those conversations should center around neutering your male cat. Cat neutering is essential for a wide variety of reasons, from preventing behavioral problems to eliminating the risk of some health conditions.  It also provides broader benefits to the community at large. 

Cats who have been neutered are less likely to exhibit sex-hormone related behaviors, like being territorial, urine-marking, and getting into fights. Needless to say, neutered cats can’t contribute to the community issue of cat overpopulation. 

Difference Between Cat Spaying and Cat Neutering 

“Neuter” is a term that can be used to describe both spaying a female cat and castrating a male cat, but it’s widely accepted as the term for the latter. 

In female cats, spaying involves surgical removal of the ovaries and uterus. The cat is anesthetized and given pain medication, then a small incision is made in the belly and the organs are gently removed. Cats often recover quickly with good post-operative care and pain management. 

Neutering a male cat is even simpler - because the testicles are external, normally one or two small incisions are made across the scrotum to remove the testicles (while the cat is safely anesthetized). 

On rare occasions, a male cat’s anatomy might be abnormal and abdominal surgery is necessary. This surgery may turn out to be more like a cat spay, as the veterinarian has to access and remove the testicles from the abdomen. 

neutered cat looking at the camera and resting on a bed

Factors Affecting the Cost of Neutering a Cat 

The start-up costs of acquiring any pet might seem daunting, but for cost-conscious pet owners there are options to consider when deciding where to seek care. 

Most cat owners will work with a general practice (GP), one that’s known for providing routine well-pet and non-wellness care. These veterinarians and their teams have significant experience in routine spay and neuter surgeries for cats and dogs of all types and sizes, and the cost is moderate compared to specialty surgery centers. The advantage of working with your own vet is that they already know you and your precious kitty, which means they have all necessary medical records and it’s simple to set up follow up appointments. 

An alternative to private practice, is a non-profit, low-cost cat spay/ neuter clinic. These clinics can offer safe, affordable surgeries aimed at preventing overpopulation and supporting members of the community. The cost of care is lower because these practices are non-profits that may be supplemented by grants or donations. They work with limited resources, and their primary focus is spay/neuter surgeries, so they’re a great option for minimizing the cost to neuter a cat. They are still staffed by qualified veterinarians and veterinary nurses. 

Average Cost of Neutering a Cat 

The cost of cat neutering at a GP or private veterinary office may average around $200 depending on additional services offered or requested, and the location of the vet. This includes the surgery, a short hospital stay, and medications. However, it’s always a great idea to obtain the actual cost in advance from your vet. A low-cost or non-profit clinic may offer prices as low as $100, $50, or even free services depending on circumstances. Some offer subsidized surgeries for owners who meet certain income requirements, though in general their cost of care is low enough to be affordable for the average household. 

Financial Assistance and Free or Low-Cost Neutering Options 

If the cost of care is a point of concern, there are plenty of resources for cat owners in need. The ASPCA has a list of low-cost spay/ neuter programs based on geographic location. Another resource is FixFinder, a searchable database which simplifies finding lower cost cat neutering by allowing you to search specifically by geographic location. 

While both of these are appealing options, you can also reach out to local cat shelters, rescues, and sanctuaries. These groups often have a multitude of contact resources and can point you in the direction of reputable low cost care - after all, their goal is to promote pet health and manage pet overpopulation. For the best information on the best low-cost (or no-cost) spay/ neuter programs, it makes sense to talk to those who have to use those resources regularly. 

Importance of Neutering for Cat Health and Behavior 

Because it’s a routine procedure, owners may be tempted to shrug off the importance of neutering their cat. If at first it’s not a priority, many male cat owners quickly realize why neutering as early as possible is recommended by most veterinarians. 

Male cats who are left “intact” (not neutered) into sexual maturity may quickly exhibit undesirable traits and behaviors. Their urine develops a more pungent odor, and they’re more likely to mark for territorial reasons than neutered cats are. Fighting amongst intact cats is also a risk, and cat fights can result in significant (and expensive) injuries. 

And of course, there’s the issue of cat population control. One intact male cat can rapidly impregnate multiple female cats, and each female cat can carry multiple kittens at a time. Neutering just one male cat has potential to stop the creation of hundreds of unhoused kittens

Cat Neutering Procedure and Recovery 

The beauty of a cat neuter for pet owners and veterinary teams is that it’s typically a straightforward procedure. As long as the cat is otherwise healthy, the day of the procedure generally involves an exam, medications, and fluids for hydration and support of various body systems. 

While under anesthesia, the surgery site will be cleaned and prepared, then the surgeon will use specialized instruments to remove the testicles from the scrotum. The procedure itself takes mere minutes, but recovery requires hands-on care and monitoring to ensure the patient remains safe. After the cat recovers from surgery and anesthesia, they may be sent home the same day. 

Cat behavior after neutering shouldn’t stray too far from typical, though for the first couple of days they may be a little quieter. It’s important to abide by any instructions provided by the veterinary care team. This includes use of protective equipment such as collar or cone, giving medication as instructed, and restricting activity for a period of a few days. 

two cats resting after one had a neuter

Pet Insurance and Neutering costs 

Does pet insurance cover neutering? No, because neutering is considered preventative care, and not an accident or illness. While there are many options for low-cost neutering when affordability is a concern ,another option for making care more affordable is to leverage the vast benefits of cat insurance with an add on pet wellness plan. While pet insurance is built for covering illnesses, accidents, or injuries, Embrace Pet Insurance offers pet wellness plans that offer support for routine care that helps your cat be as healthy as possible. 

Pet owners have the option to choose from different reimbursement levels that can reimburse up to the entire cost of a cat neuter. Enrollment can begin any time in a pet 6 weeks of age or older. 

Summing Up Your Cat Neutering Cost Options 

Neutering a cat is one of the most basic healthcare steps a new owner can take (that is, if you haven’t adopted a cat who is already neutered!). While considering every layer of healthcare for a new pet can seem daunting, there are a variety of options that help make it more affordable. Cat insurance from Embrace offers a security net for accidents and illnesses, and even optional plans for routine care coverage.