Many pet parents choose to have their female cats spayed, and it’s a good idea! It will avoid all unwanted pregnancies and prevent some medical conditions. However, many owners are a little nervous to get their kitty fixed. They wonder “Will my cat change after being neutered?”
This fear over changes in female cat behavior after spaying can put owners off the operation. And in truth, spayed cats will behave a little differently. However, rather than having a completely different personality, these are welcome changes. Examples include reduced roaming behaviors, less loud and annoying vocalizations, and being overall calmer.
All the changes seen in female cats are due to hormonal changes. In this article, I will run through all of these changes in more detail. I will also mention some of the immediate effects you might notice post-operation. Plus, I run through the negatives of spaying to give you a balanced argument.
With this knowledge, you will better know what to expect from the operation. This can help you decide whether or not spaying is the right decision for your pet.
Immediate Behavioral Changes After Spaying
The long-term behavioral changes seen in spayed cats are due to hormonal changes. However, hormones don’t change overnight. It will take a while for their hormones to reset and the body and mind to notice a difference. Still, you will notice some immediate behavioral changes post-operation in response to the operation itself.
In most cases, the main behavior change you will notice is stress-related. Going to the vet and having an operation is an extremely stressful experience.
This typically manifests in one of two ways:
Your cat will become withdrawn and quiet, OR Your cat will become clingy and more affectionate.
1. Withdrawn & Quiet
In many cases, you might find your cat is hiding and acting weird after their spaying operation. They might also get frightened more than usual and seem increasingly jumpy. Their shy and withdrawn behavior is a reflection of the fear they felt when at the veterinarian’s office.
Moreover, your cat has just had an abdominal operation. They actually need to be quiet and rest so that they make a quick recovery. It is also well-known that cats are masters at hiding pain. Whenever a cat is sick or injured it is instinctive for them to hide and become withdrawn, and recovering from surgery is no different. Help promote recovery by keeping your cat confined after being spayed.
2. Clingy & Affectionate
In other cases, cats will respond the opposite way. Instead of being more withdrawn, you might find your cat more affectionate after spaying. Again, this is a response to their stress levels and recovery. As your cat’s favorite human, they might seek comfort and reassurance in you when feeling sick or stressed.
Which way your cat goes – withdrawn or clingy – just depends on their personality. Thankfully, both of these behavioral changes are only temporary. Your cat will likely act a little different for a couple of days after the operation. Once they realize they are safe back home and have recovered from the experience, they’ll soon be back to their own selves.
Long-Term Changes in Female Cat Behavior After Spaying
The short-term and immediate response to getting spayed will reverse itself as your cat heals. However, there are some changes in female cat behavior after spaying that last a lifetime. These include the following:
- Reduction in roaming behaviors
- Calmer temperament
- Reduction in unwanted urination
- Loss of other heat-associated behaviors
These are not stress or illness-related and instead are due to hormonal changes. This is because when a female cat is spayed, its ovaries and uterus are removed. These parts of the reproductive system produce sex hormones. The hormones are produced in different quantities at different times in the estrus cycle.
Following their removal, your cat will no longer have these hormone cycles and will lose the associated behaviors. However, these behavioral changes won’t happen overnight. Instead, they will happen gradually over 6-8 weeks. This is around how long it takes for hormones to balance after spaying. Also, it is important to note that spaying will only cause changes in behavior – not in personality.
Below is a look at all the common behavioral changes in more detail.
1. Reduced Roaming Behaviors
Whenever a cat is in heat, it will search endlessly for a mate. You will notice your cat meows at the door and will spend more time outside than usual. In some cases, cats will roam far away from home to seek out any males in the neighborhood and beyond. If mating was successful, only then will they give up their search before the heat cycle ends.
While it is normal for cats to roam, it is safe to keep your cat closer to the nest. The further afield they go on their hunt for a mate, the more likely they are to run into danger. This could be infringing on another animal’s territory, crossing a highway road, or traveling too far away that they get lost. If you’ve just moved house, roaming behavior can become even more of an issue.
Thankfully, spayed cats will show a reduction in these roaming behaviors. This is a welcome change in female cat behavior after spaying. It means your cat will stay closer to your home so there is less chance of her getting lost. Moreover, she will be less likely to run into trouble by sticking in familiar territory. Plus, you’ll get to see more of your cat as she spends more time at home.
2. Calmer Temperament
One of the questions owners as all the time is “Do cats get nicer after being spayed?”. However, getting your female cat spayed won’t change their personality. It won’t make a shy and withdrawn get more happy and sociable. Likewise, it won’t turn a really aggressive cat into a loving cat that loves curling up on your lap.
Still, what spaying does do is reduce irritability. This irritability is caused by hormonal fluctuations associated with the heat cycle. Common “irritable” behaviors seen in heat include aggression, restlessness, or exceedingly needy behavior.
As such, a spayed cat might seem calmer than they did previously. They won’t develop a whole new personality, but they will be on “best behavior” more often. This can see a reduction in aggression and other bad behavioral traits mentioned above. In other words, you get the good side of your cat more often and the bad side less often – win, win!
3. Reduced Unwanted Urination
Unwanted urination or spraying is more common in male cats vs female cats. Still, many females will exhibit this behavior. Or, you might see your cat shaking its tail but not spraying any real urine. Either situation isn’t great, especially if they do actually pee around your home. It can be a pain to clean, besides being unhygienic and smelly!
Neutered female cats will spray far less frequently. This is because cats will often spray in heat as their urine contains pheromones. These pheromones tell males in the neighborhood that they’re looking for a mate. Spayed female cats no longer have a desire to mate, thus stop exhibiting this unpleasant behavior.
This is another welcome change to female cat behavior after spaying. It means less cleaning and a nicer, cleaner, sweeter-smelling home. All their mess will be contained in the litter box, making your life a lot easier.
4. Loss of Heat-Associated Behaviors
Roaming, mood swings, and spraying are not the only behaviors associated with heat. Cats in heat are extremely vocal. This is all in an attempt to find a mating partner. Their vocalizations are them calling out to nearby males to let them know they’re looking for an active male. But for owners, it is nothing but annoying and frustrating!
Additionally, unspayed cats will often lay on their backs and roll around on the floor. Therefore, you might notice that your cat keeps meowing and rubbing itself on everything. Rubbing on everything and rolling on the floor transfers pheromones onto these surfaces. By doing so, your female cat is again communicating that they want a mate. This time, they are communicating through scent.
Both of these behaviors – yowling vocalizations and rubbing on everything – can be difficult to live with. This is especially true if your cat is up and meowing at night. Thankfully, if you get your cat spayed you will see these behaviors stop. With no desire to search for a mate anymore, your cat won’t need to vocalize or spread pheromones half as much.
What Are The Negative Effects of Neutering Cats?
All of the behavior changes mentioned above are positive changes. Plus, getting your female cat neutered will help prevent unwanted pregnancy and reduce the risk of some illnesses. However, there are some negatives to getting your kitty fixed. To give a balanced viewpoint here is some more detail on these drawbacks.
1. Decrease in Metabolism
The main drawback of having your cat spayed is that their metabolism will decrease. This is a natural response to the change in hormones. However, a decreased metabolism means cats burn fat less efficiently which can lead to weight gain.
Moreover, the lack of estrogen post-op has been shown to cause an increase in appetite. This can mean females eat more while burning what they do eat more slowly. This is further exacerbated by the lack of roaming your neutered female cat will now partake in. They will typically venture out of the home less frequently and get less exercise.
These three things combined mean you must pay much more attention to your cat’s diet and exercise levels after a spaying operation. In general, neutered female cats will only need 75% to 80% of the food they previously needed to maintain optimal body weight! Forget to make this change and your cat could easily become overweight or obese.
Obesity is a risk factor for many health conditions, including the following diseases and disorders:
- Diabetes mellitus
- Hypertension and heart disease
- Some types of cancers
- Arthritis and joint mobility issues
- Increased incidences of heatstroke
You won’t want your cat to develop any of these detrimental conditions. Yet thankfully, weight gain and these associated medical conditions can be avoided completely with proper diet management and exercise. I recommend speaking to your vet for a proper nutritional evaluation after they have been spayed so you can ensure you’re feeding your cat what they need.
2. Your Cat is Sterile
This one is obvious, but it is important to remember nevertheless. When a female cat is spayed they have their uterus and ovaries completely removed. This means they are completely sterilized and will be unable to have kittens ever again.
For most, this is a plus as it avoids unwanted pregnancy. However, if you think there is a time that you might be interested in breeding your cat, think twice before getting them spayed. This operation cannot be reversed, so make sure you’re set on your decision. There is no going back!
MY FINAL THOUGHTS
So, do cats change after being spayed? In short, yes! There are a few changes to female cat behavior after spaying. Immediately after the operation, your cat will show signs of stress. This could manifest as them becoming timid and withdrawn or overly affectionate and clingy. Which way it goes will entirely depend on the nature of your cat.
However, these changes are only temporary. You will then notice permanent changes kick in around 6-8 weeks post-operation. This is how long it takes for the hormones to rebalance and for you to see the full effect of the surgery. The main differences you see are a reduction in heat-associated behaviors, such as spraying, roaming, vocalizations, and mood.
Whether or not you do get your cat spayed is entirely down to you. However, if stresses over huge personality changes were what was holding you back, you can relax. Your cat’s personality won’t change at all. All the changes you do see are linked to behavior rather than character. And most of these are an improvement – trust me, I’m speaking from experience!