Nutrition after neutering – a look at feline foods

With 92% of cats being neutered in the UK (see the PDSA PAW Report for 2019), it makes sense that we should prepare these animals as best as we can for life after the snip. Whilst there are many benefits of neutering, there are a few changes to their lives that need to be made to prevent unwanted side effects.

Posted: 14 January 2020

Nutrition after neutering – a look at feline foods

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The key benefits of neutering include;

  • Stay at home – neutered cats are less likely to wander and stray away from the home environment.
  • Road safety – by wandering off less often they are exposed to fewer risks on the roads, and therefore less likely to be involved in an RTA.
  • No fighting – neutering reduces the desire to seek out other cats and will make it less likely that dominant individuals will challenge others. Wounds and abscesses from fighting are therefore less likely.
  • Fewer infections – neutering lowers the risk of contracting infectious diseases such as Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) and Feline Leukaemia Virus (FeLV).
  • No unwanted uterine problems – when a female cat is spayed, this removes the risk of pyometra infections and uterine tumours.
  • No testicular tumours – if retained testicles remain in the abdomen in male cats they are at risk of developing tumours, but castration eliminates this risk.
  • Longer life expectancy - a neutered cat will often live for a greater length of time than an unneutered cat.
  • Fewer unwanted animals – neutering both males and females within a population will reduce unplanned pregnancies and unwanted litters.

Problems associated with neutering

There are from time to time some complications after neutering. These include;

  • Post-surgery infections – cats are inquisitive and prone to licking and chewing at wounds. Even though the spay and castration wounds are small, there is still the risk that the wound will be interfered with, allowing infection and delayed healing.
  • Weight gain – this is probably the most common consequence of neutering and one that many owners worry about. It’s totally preventable, so client education regarding what to feed and how much is essential.
  • Male cat urethral blockage – this can occur if the urethra goes into spasm from stress. Some studies have found that the tip of the penis in castrated cats contained more fibrous tissue than in entire cats, possibly reducing the potential of the urethra to dilate, and thereby contributing to an obstruction.

It must be remembered that overall, the benefits of neutering far outweigh the risks, so there is every reason to continue recommending the procedure to all your clients.

What physiological changes should you expect?

It’s not surprising that if you remove the main source of male or female hormones from an individual, you’re going to expect to see some major physiological alterations to the animal. You only have to recognise the changes humans experience at puberty and the menopause to see that there are both major physical and behavioural alterations.

In cats, we often see an increase in appetite within just a few days. The neutered animal seems less able to regulate its hunger despite the fact that its daily energy requirements actually reduce. Interestingly, male cats seem to be at greater risk of increased appetite than females, which explains why males tend to become overweight quicker. As a consequence, weight gain is a real risk if calorie intake is not adapted. Weight gain can then lead to many other problems such as;

  • Diabetes – overweight cats, are at much higher risk of developing diabetes.
  • Urinary retention – fat in the abdomen and pelvis region will compromise the passage of urine through the urethra.
  • Poor coat – weight gain will make it difficult for the cat to reach and groom some areas, resulting in a matted or scurfy coat.
  • Degenerative joint disease (DJD) – excessive pressure on joints from an animal carrying extra weight may contribute to some of the problems associated with DJD.

Our role as nutritional advisors

When we spay and castrate cats, we should always ensure we continue our role of clinical monitoring for a long time after the wounds have healed. Good nutritional advice and regular weight monitoring is essential. When discussing and advising on diet, you need to take into account a number of factors.

1. Home-made vs formulated diet – whilst some owners may want to try and create their own foods, it’s unquestionably better for them to feed complete diets which have been specifically formulated for neutered cats. There are many available these days, and at Burgess Pet Care we are delighted to offer our own version, Burgess Neutered Cat with chicken.

2. Cooked vs raw – the arguments will always go on between the cooked food and raw food camps. Our role should be to ensure that our clients have access to the evidence, which is clear that raw foods are risky, and cooked complete foods are safe. Read our article on the pros and cons of feeding raw food.

3. Reduced calories – the dietary aims of post neutering nutrition should be to reduce the calories provided and thereby prevent weight gain. Owners should be advised to stick to measured daily rations and resist the temptation to just top up the bowl each time it is empty.

4. Monitor body weight and condition score – it’s critical that the animal is checked regularly. Many owners allow their pet to slowly put on weight over several months without really noticing. The only accurate way to prevent this is to place the animal on the scales every few weeks, as well as making a measured evaluation of body condition score. Record the results on the practice computer, and constantly refer back to previous results. By doing this, you’ll be able to adjust the food accordingly.

5. Exercise – this should form part of the animals post neutering plan. Encourage regular play with the cat at home. Food can be placed in several locations around the house, ensuring the animal has to move about when looking for food.

Dedicated diets for neutered cats

These tend to be made from recipes with a reduced energy content. They often have;

  • Increased protein – this helps with satiation.
  • L-carnitine – this can help with weight loss as it promotes the use of fat stores for energy.
  • Fibre rich formulations – some diets contain addition fibre which can make a cat feel full.

Why Burgess Neutered cat?

Our advanced high protein recipe contains the essential nutrients and vitamins that a neutered cat needs to help them stay healthy and content. The benefits include;

  • High in protein - tasty and digestible meat protein helps to maintain lean muscle mass
  • Weight management - includes ‘L-carnitine’ to help maintain a healthy weight
  • Urinary tract health - formulated to support a healthy urinary system
  • Dental health - we use a specialist ingredient to help teeth and gum health
  • Reduces hairballs - fibre helps prevent hairballs
  • Stool odour - yucca extract helps to reduce litter tray odours and helps with stool formation

Find out more about Burgess Neutered Cat diet >

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