Spaying & Neutering, Before & After Effects on Your Cat

Medical articles
This cute cat has been found to be comfortably recovering at home after spay. Is it true that cats calm down after being spayed?

The decision to spay or neuter your cat is a significant one, filled with both excitement for their future well-being and perhaps a touch of worry about their recovery. Spaying and neutering are important decisions for responsible pet parents. These procedures offer a lifetime of benefits for both your feline companion and the community at large. Not only do they prevent unwanted litters, but they also contribute to a healthier and happier cat. 

The good news? Most cats bounce back to their playful selves within days after surgery. Regardless of your cat's age, breed, or environment, the benefits of spaying or neutering far outweigh any potential risks. These procedures are cornerstones of responsible pet ownership, offering a lifetime of advantages not just for your feline friend, but for the entire cat community. They contribute to a healthier and happier cat population, and can even translate into a more peaceful home environment for you. 

While the recovery period is typically uneventful, a little extra TLC during this time goes a long way. Think creating a calm and comfortable space for them to rest and recuperate. The short-term adjustment of limiting their activity level can ensure a smooth and speedy recovery, allowing them to get back to their usual playful antics much faster.   

Male Cat Behavior Before Neutering  

Male cats before being neutered usually exhibit undesirable behaviors, such as wandering from home, spraying, and being aggressive with their owners or other male cats.  

Aggression Towards Other Males  

Unneutered male cats, also called as tomcats, often exhibit territorial and competitive behaviors driven by their high levels of testosterone. This can manifest in the forms of: 

  • Physical Fights - These cats are prone to engaging in aggressive confrontations with other male cats to establish dominance or to gain access to female cats in heat. These fights can result in severe injuries, abscesses, and the spread of diseases. 

  • Vocalization and Posturing - Tomcats may also yowl loudly, hiss, and pose a threatening body language to assert their dominance or warn off other males from their taken territory. 

Spraying and Marking Territory 

Male cats mark their territory with urine spraying, a behavior where they release a small amount of urine onto vertical surfaces, and serves multiple purposes including: 

  • Communication - The scent marks left by spraying communicate their presence, reproductive status, and territorial boundaries to other cats. 

  • Attracting Females - Spraying also serves to signal their availability to potential mates. 

  • Territorial Claims - By marking territory, tomcats reduce the likelihood of other males intruding on their acquired space, although this can lead to conflicts if territories overlap. 

Roaming in Search of a Mate 

Driven by the instinct to find and mate with female cats, unneutered male cats are more likely to roam far from home, which might lead to the following consequences: 

  • Increased Risk of Injury - Roaming increases the likelihood of accidents, such as being hit by a car, getting lost, or encountering aggressive animals. 

  • Exposure to Diseases - The farther a tomcat roams, the higher the risk of encountering and spreading infectious diseases, like Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (feline ‘AIDS’) which can be transmitted through cat bites. 

  • Contribution to Overpopulation - Uncontrolled roaming and mating can lead to unplanned and often unwanted litters, contributing to the overpopulation of cats. 

Male Cat Behavior After Neutering   

After neutering, male cats may experience some changes in their behavior. This is because neutering removes their testicles, which are the main producers of testosterone. Testosterone is like a special chemical messenger in their bodies. One of testosterone's jobs is to tell your cat to find mates. So, when those testosterone levels drop after neutering, the associated behaviors also lessen. 

Reduced Roaming Instincts  

Neutered male cats show a marked reduction in the desire to wander in search of female cats. This reduction of roaming behavior keeps them closer to home, reducing the risks associated with roaming.  

Decreased Aggression 

One of the most noticeable changes you might see after neutering your male cat is a decrease in aggression. Testosterone acts like a fuel source for territorial behavior and competition. When your cat is intact, this hormone drives him to establish dominance and chase off potential rivals. Without the hormonal drive to compete for mates or territory, neutered males are less likely to engage in fights, leading to a more peaceful coexistence with other cats. 

Less Urine Marking 

Many neutered males either have a significant reduction of their urine marking behavior or even completely stop, because of the lesser drive to claim their territories. This makes maintaining a clean and odor-free home environment easier and less stressful.  

If your cat is exhibiting all these behaviors before neutering, it’s natural to be eager for the changes that come after the procedure. But hold on – the transformation won't happen overnight. Neutering brings about a gradual adjustment period. It can take several weeks for the full effects to kick in as your cat’s remaining testosterone levels slowly decrease. During this time, you’ll likely notice a steady reduction in these behaviors. So, while it’s exciting to think about the positive changes ahead, be patient and give your cat the time they need to settle into their new, calmer self. 

What Does a Male Cat Look Like After Being Neutered? 

Physically, male cats undergo several changes. Initially, you’ll notice that your cat's scrotum appears swollen right after the surgery, which is a normal part of the healing process and will gradually subside over the following days. And, as your cat's hormone levels decrease, one of the first noticeable changes is that their urine spray becomes less pungent due to the reduction in testosterone, which typically occurs within a few weeks.  

Along with these changes, it's common for neutered male cats to gain weight. Studies have shown that cats often become less active after neutering, and their metabolism slows down, leading to weight gain if their food intake isn’t adjusted accordingly. This weight gain can be a significant health risk, increasing the chances of obesity-related issues such as diabetes, arthritis, and heart disease. Be sure you monitor and manage your neutered cat’s diet and ensure they maintain a healthy weight through balanced nutrition and regular exercise through playtime. 

One of the side effects of a cat after neuter or spay is to sleep a lot. Just take a look at this cute orange cat found to be sleeping with a comfortable collar cone.

Female Cat Behavior Before Spaying 

Female cats often reach maturity as early as 4 months, and from then on experience heat cycles that can cause distress and lead to behaviors that can get frustrating for some pet owners. Some of these behaviors are in the form of:  

Increased Vocalization  

When in heat, female cats display a range of behaviors aimed at attracting a mate: 

  • Loud Calling - Female cats will ‘call’ their potential mates by producing loud, prolonged vocalizations that can be distressing for owners. This behavior, known as calling, is designed to attract males and signal their availability for mating. 

  • Persistent Meowing - Increased and more insistent meowing is common, which can be particularly noticeable during the night. 

This happens roughly every three weeks during the sexually active periods of the year if they do not become pregnant. This cycle simply means that they are ready to mate. So, when there are unspayed female cats in an area, it tends to draw in unneutered male cats, leading to a host of issues mentioned in the previous sections like spraying, fighting, and now coupled with loud persistent vocalizations.  


Female cats in heat will exhibit restless behavior, indicating their desire to find a mate, they are more likely to:  

  • Pace and have an increase in activity - Your cat may wander around the house more frequently, appear anxious, or seem unable to settle in one place. 

  • Seek Attention - They might also seek more attention from you, their owners, by showing affectionate body language like rubbing against your legs, or nuzzling their head against your hand. 

Strong Desire to Escape in Search of a Mate  

Driven by their instinctual need to reproduce, queens or female cats in heat may try to escape the home. Door dashing is an attempt to dart out of open doors or windows, even if they are typically indoor cats. This behavior leaves them exposed to an increased risk of getting lost, injured, or becoming pregnant if they encounter unneutered male cats outside. 

Female Cat Behavior After Spaying 

Spaying your female cat brings about several significant changes by eliminating her heat cycles and the behaviors associated with them. Typically, during heat, cats exhibit increased affection, restlessness, and loud vocalizations as they seek a mate. Once spayed, these cyclical behaviors cease since the procedure removes the ovaries and uterus, thus stopping the production of reproductive hormones. This reduction in hormonal activity not only prevents unwanted pregnancies but also minimizes the risk of serious health issues such as uterine infections and certain types of cancers.  

Importantly, while some pet owners worry that spaying might lead to weight gain or laziness, these changes are not inevitable. But, with proper diet and regular exercise, spayed cats can maintain a healthy weight and remain active. What you can do is monitor their calorie intake and ensure they get plenty of playtime, as they won’t be expending energy on mating behaviors anymore. By adjusting their diet and keeping them engaged, you can help your cat stay fit and content after spaying them. 

Do Cats Calm Down After Being Spayed? 

Yes, many female cats do become calmer after being spayed. The elimination of hormonal fluctuations that occur during their heat cycles lead to a decrease in behaviors like persistent vocalizing, restlessness, and the urge to escape and find a mate. This hormonal balance shift contributes to a more relaxed and settled demeanor.  

It is important to understand that these changes do not happen instantly. It takes several weeks for the remaining hormones to completely leave your cat's system, during which you may observe a gradual decline in the more intense behaviors. While some signs of calmness may appear shortly after the surgery, the full behavioral transformation is typically a slow and steady process. Patience is key as your cat adjusts to her new, stable hormonal state, and you may find her becoming progressively more peaceful and content over time. 

Potential Side Effects and Complications from Spaying and Neutering 

While spaying and neutering are generally safe procedures, it's important to be aware of potential complications. These can be caused by a variety of factors, and consulting your veterinarian is crucial if you have any concerns. 

It's natural for cats to dislike having stitches, and some might try to remove them by licking or chewing at the incision site. This can be prevented by using an Elizabethan collar (cone) during recovery. 

Following surgery, some cats might remain quite active, even attempting to jump furniture. While some activity is good, excessive jumping can disrupt healing. Creating a calm and confined space for recovery can help. 

The most common post-operative behavior in cats is a period of reduced activity and appetite for a day or two. This is a normal response to surgery and anesthesia. However, if your cat's lack of appetite persists or they seem overly lethargic, it's important to consult your veterinarian. 

Common Cat Spay and Neuter Recovery Signs  

The days following surgery are crucial for your cat's healing. As your feline friend recovers, you'll likely observe positive signs that indicate a smooth process. However, it's important to remember that every cat heals at its own pace. If you have any concerns or questions about your cat's recovery, don't hesitate to consult your veterinarian. They can provide personalized advice and ensure your cat has the best possible outcome. 

Sleeping more often  

The aftereffects of cats from being spayed and neutered is them sleeping more often. This is your cat’s way of recovering slowly. This extra sleep is a natural part of the healing process as their bodies use energy to heal from the surgery. Additionally, the effects of pain relief medications or anesthetics administered during the surgery contribute to longer sleep durations. 

Walking More Slowly 

In the days following the surgery, your cat may walk slowly. This cautious movement is typically due to the tenderness around the incision site, causing them to tread carefully to avoid aggravating it. They may also be adjusting to the unfamiliar sensation of stitches or general soreness in their abdomen. 

Jumping Less 

Cats are smart creatures, so most cats tend to jump less, post-surgery operation. The discomfort from the physical strain of jumping, combined with their instinctive caution to avoid movements that could strain their healing bodies, leads them to reduce their activity levels. 

Eating Less 

It is common for cats to experience a temporary reduction in appetite during the recovery period. The anesthesia and pain medications can affect their interest in food, and the overall stress and physical impact of the surgery can further contribute to decreased food intake for a short time. 

“Zoned-out” Appearance 

Cats may appear dazed or less responsive if particularly affected by medications. The sedative effects of drugs used during and after the surgery, including pain relief medications, can give them a "zoned-out" appearance as they feel sleepy or less alert. So, don’t be surprised if your cat is still sluggish or uninterested in their surroundings. This effect is usually temporary and will diminish as the medications wear off and the cat recovers from the surgery. 

Bad Signs After Cat Spay to Watch Out for: 

While most cats experience a smooth recovery, it's important to be aware of some less common signs that might require veterinary attention. 

  • Excessive bleeding or discharge or odor from the incision site  

  • Swelling, redness, or irritation around the incision 

  • Walking with a hunch-back appearance more than a day after the procedure 

  • Extreme lethargy after the first twelve hours 

  • Decreased appetite lasting more than a day or two 

  • Vomiting or diarrhea 

  • Difficulty urinating or defecating 

  • Inability to urinate or defecate normally within 24-72 hours after surgery 

The good news is, most cats experience minimal discomfort after neutering. This is because the surgery itself is minimally invasive. However, it's important to be aware of some signs that might require veterinary attention. These include any bleeding from the incision site or excessive licking at the area.

What does a male cat look like after being neutered? One look that cats could sport is by wearing a cat cone collar during the first few days of his recovery,

Post-Operative Care After your Cat is Spayed or Neutered 

To ensure a smooth recovery, keep your cat in a quiet, confined space with easy access to food, water, and a litter box. Monitor the incision site daily for signs of infection and use a recovery collar to prevent licking or chewing at the incision. Follow your veterinarian's recommendations regarding activity restriction and medication. 

Keep Cats Calm  

The first thing veterinarians will explain is that cats should be kept calm during the spay or neuter recovery time. That means no excessive running, jumping, or playing. This can be hard to do if we're talking about a kitten, as most kittens are unlikely to respect doctors' rules. And since they usually feel well enough to do so, they're likely to return to business as usual once they're back at home. 

Keep Cats Indoors 

Part of your cat's post-operative care is to keep them indoors after surgery, particularly after a major abdominal procedure like a spay. This ensures that cats won't make huge leaps off walls or fences and risk their incisions with mad dashes across the backyard. Having them indoors also makes it easier for you to observe your cat during the healing process. 

Consider Keeping Cats Isolated 

The best approach to keeping cats safe after surgery is to keep recently spayed or neutered cats in one cat-proofed room for a few days. This effectively isolates them from others who might play or harass them during their recovery. It also means you can limit the height of furniture (and of their jumps) by selecting rooms with low-lying furniture. Provide a warm, quiet space with easy access to a litter box, food, and water. You may need to limit their food intake based on your veterinarian's recommendations. 

Monitor the Surgery Site  

After fixing a cat, owners should observe the surgery site at least once a day. Make sure it's not red, swollen, weeping, or bleeding. Any of these findings is cause for a vet visit! 

Use the Recovery Collar  

Your veterinarian may recommend a recovery collar to keep your cat from being able to get to the incision site. Use this for the time your veterinarian recommends. The collar might make your cat uncomfortable, or you can use a cat cone alternative to prevent them from licking or chewing at the incision, which can lead to infection. 

Follow All Aftercare Instructions, Including a Follow-Up Visit 

Some veterinarians have recommendations regarding keeping the surgery site clean, keeping it coated with ointments (like Aquaphor) or administering antibiotics, while other prefer that cats receive no medications or special attention to the wound (apart from simple observation). Be sure to follow all recommendations for your specific cat. 

Baby Your Baby During Recovery  

After a neuter or spay, it should go without saying that a little extra attention is in order. Some cats need to be reassured that life will go back to normal after having to spend time at an alien place and that they are indeed adored.  

Supporting Your Cat Through Every Stage of Life 

Ensuring your cat receives top-notch care throughout their life is a priority. By now, we all know the benefits of spaying or neutering your cat, but we also know that the costs can add up quickly, from the surgery to the routine preventative care, and even the unexpected illnesses or accidents. So, to keep your feline friend purring and playing like a kitten consider investing in a flexible, optional, non-insurance pet wellness plan. These plans help you budget for spaying or neutering and reimburse for wellness exams, vaccines, nail trimming, dental care, and supplements, especially beneficial during your kitten's first year. 

Combining the pet wellness plan with cat insurance can help cover a wide range of veterinary expenses, providing peace of mind and assurance that your cat gets the best care without financial stress. This combination is particularly valuable during the spay or neuter recovery period, when unexpected complications might require additional veterinary attention. 

A Happier, Healthier Life for Your Spayed or Neutered Cat  

The key to a successful neuter and spay of your cat is to follow your veterinarian's post-operative care instructions closely and contact them if you notice any concerning symptoms or behavioral changes.  

Spaying or neutering your cat might have been nerve-wracking, not just for your cat but for you as well. Having witnessed all those behavioral changes due to the fluctuations in their hormonal levels before and after neutering was not an easy feat. But both of you did it! This marks the beginning of a new chapter in their life, one filled with improved health and a more stable temperament.  

As you navigated this journey together, your loving care and attention during recovery undoubtedly contributed to a stronger bond with your feline friend. While they may not plainly show it, a slow blink might be coming your way as their way of saying thank you, for your post operative care and attention.