Sharing a house with a sterilised cat is common practice for those who love their feline companions. Yet the behaviour of sterilised cats as well as precautions good owners should undertake to best care for them, are not so well known. In this regard, Benedetta Giannini veterinarian and nutrition expert has come to our aid.
Sterilisation of male and female cats
Sterilisation is recommended in female cats to avoid being left – after a few months of ‘socialising’ – with a band of small cats that are difficult to rehome. In male cats, sterilisation is especially encouraged because if your cat lives in an apartment at the time when it reaches sexual maturity, territorial marking will likely commence, and soon the sofa, furniture, windows and doors will be sprayed with potent-smelling urine. If your cat has outdoor access however, you may avoid marking, but your feline will also be exposed to the dangers outdoor life brings. In fact, many young and inexperienced kittens on their first nights out come to a bad end crossing the street, or get injured fighting with other cats, coming home with bites, and scratches that sometimes get infected with bacteria, which are transmitted through these altercations.
Feeding a cat sterilised: how to counter their tendency to be overweight
Unneutered male cats tend to go out in search of partners and travel miles. Their territory can be very large, and they regularly clash with other male cats. On the other hand, unneutered females face pregnancy, childbirth and lactation: both cases involve considerable expenditure of energy. After sterilisation however, cats tend reduce their territory to the minimum required, they spend a lot of time dozing on the sofa. Therefore their calorie intake needs to be decreased by as much as 30%. During the day, the neutered cat will spend its time sleeping and stretching, and it will have even more opportunity to get food, because it knows that when it gets peckish, its owner will provide a succulent meal and this will become the focal point of its day: “I ask and the bowl is filled”. Its demands may become excessive thereby increasing its tendency to be overweight. To help your cat avoid piling on the pounds, feed them foods with fewer fats such as wet food. Thanks to the percentage of liquid being greater than dry foods, the wet foods will also tend to have a ballast effect: the cat will feel much more satisfied while having fewer calories. The dry food should contain only polyunsaturated fat (so-called good fats), for example chicken oil or fish oil. Beware of lard (saturated fat) or fat not well identified on the product label. The dry food should also be reduced in quantity and divided up during the day. In this way, when the cat asks to eat, we can give it a few biscuits. Some of the cat’s dry food may also be hidden inside special toys that the cat has to move around to release it, this way the cat is encouraged to exercise, the day will pass by faster, and the cat will eat less. It should be remembered, however, that cats cannot function on diets without a certain level of fat, as they need some fatty acids for good health.
The health of sterilised cats: nutrition is key
Another important factor in the health of our sterilised cat is their increased susceptibility to form stones in the bladder. This is due to the nature of the cat: it doesn’t drink much and sleeps all day. After sterilisation it will do even less and its urine will remain stagnant in the bladder for longer. This situation, along with others such as being overweight, predisposes it to the formation of kidney stones or grit. To avoid this situation, it would be a good idea to encourage your cat to drink more. Using devices such as pet fountains and having water bowls positioned around the house, while changing the water often so that it is always fresh, will encourage you cat to drink more. You can also increase the share of wet food in its diet. Don’t stop at just feeding your cat a food specified as ‘Light’ or ‘For sterilised cats’, the important thing is to follow the small, but important care advice that is fundamental for our neutered cat!