Why do cats get angry?
The advantages of castration outweigh the disadvantages
The castration of cats and tomcats is common practice today and has long been part of the routine for veterinarians. After all, neutering has many advantages: unwanted kittens are avoided, the risk of accidents with free-roaming males is reduced, the stress of heat in the female kittens disappears and there are fewer injuries due to territorial fights. A "nice side effect" of castration is that possible problems caused by strange sexual behavior are also eliminated. Unwanted behaviors, such as odor nuisance from tagging, sexually driven meowing or screaming, or dominant and aggressive behavior towards competitors, usually go away after castration. The neutered cat and the neutered male often become more affectionate and cuddly. In short: They appear overall more satisfied than their sexually driven counterparts.
Can the behavior of the cat change after neutering?
But what if these advantages do not materialize after neutering? Or worse, if the cat is more aggressive after the operation than before? The risk that the cat's personality will change for the worse after neutering is very low. Cases in which cats or hangovers are more nervous, aggressive or fearful after neutering are therefore probably not known to most veterinarians. Nevertheless, desperate cat owners who have exactly this fear come up to speak in Internet forums. Why is that? And how does your house tiger become "the old man" again after the castration? We would like to answer these questions for you in the following text.
Possible reasons for the cat's aggressive behavior after neutering
Castration is a surgical procedure
The fact that castration is carried out in almost every small animal practice today and that most experts recommend castration of cats with good reason should not hide the fact that castration is and will remain a surgical procedure. In contrast to sterilization, in which the egg or spermatic ducts are only closed or severed, castration means the complete removal of the gonads. In cats, the ovaries are surgically removed; in cats, both testicles are surgically removed.
As with any operation, wound pain and postoperative stress can also occur after castration. Especially female cats, in which the abdominal cavity has to be opened with a three to five centimeter long incision to remove both ovaries, can cause problems with the sutured wound and scar. In hangovers, the wound in the scrotum usually closes quickly by itself, but here, too, wound pain in the area of the genital organs can occur. The pain usually goes away after a few days, but a cat that has just been operated on may not be able to classify the pain and is often aggressive. Some cats blame their humans or other cats living in the household for their discomfort: They hiss, scratch and show their claws if you only approach them.
Metabolism and hormonal balance change
After the castration, the cat not only has to deal with the anesthesia and wound pain, but also extensive hormonal changes. In some cats, it can take a few days to a few weeks for their hormonal balance to be rebalanced. With the removal of the testicles or ovaries, the production sites of the sex hormones, which previously had a major influence on hormone-related behavior, are finally removed during castration. In the long term, this means in the vast majority of cases that the cat will be calmer because it is no longer confused by sexual cycles, but it can take some time before that happens. After the operation, the cat may appear more stressed than before.
The cat partner suddenly smells different
It is not uncommon for the aggressiveness to show itself after a castration in coexistence with a conspecific. Many a neutered male or a neutered cat are extremely cuddly with their humans, while they extend their claws towards other animals living in the household. Experts explain this with the changed smell emanating from the operated animal. On the one hand, this can be the smell of the operation itself, the smell of a veterinarian's practice, sterilization agents, and, on the other hand, your own body odor, which changes as a result of the hormonal change. Particularly sensitive cats are extremely sensitive to such odor fluctuations. Suddenly they can no longer “smell” their partner in the truest sense of the word, which is very worrying and stressful for them.
The ruff bothers
In contrast to the altered cat odor, which we humans cannot perceive, the cause of the aggressive behavior can also have much more obvious reasons. So that the cat does not lick the wound after the operation, many veterinarians prescribe a neck brace. While some house tigers stoically endure this "plastic bowl" around their head, others are completely irritated by the strange thing. Sensitive cats are particularly unsettled by the restricted view. Aggressive behavior is - as in most cases - the result of insecurity and fear. Frightened animals often don't know what to do other than extend their claws and defend themselves by attacking them. If the aggressiveness or insecurity could be due to the ruff, you can alternatively put on a body for your cat, which also prevents your cat from reaching the wound with its tongue.
Your cat will be "the old one" again
If a cat that was trusting and cuddly before neutering suddenly becomes aggressive and aggressive, its owner naturally wants "the old" cat back - and that, as soon as possible! But this is exactly where the problem lies: as we humans are irritated by the behavior of the cat and try “for hell” to bring the cat back to “normal”, we often make them even more insecure. Our insecurity is carried over to the sensitive cat, which in turn can intensify the aggressiveness. So the most important thing in such a situation is: be patient. It takes your cat a while to process the experience of the surgery, the pain, the strange smell, and the changes in its hormonal balance. Be understanding, sympathize with her, and show her that there is nothing to worry about. The more "normal" you behave, the quicker your cat will find its way back to normal and forget the stresses and strains of the operation.
Allow your animal to rest
Not only humans, animals too need rest after an operation in order to recover. Excitement or excessive activity should be avoided. Even if you can usually bring your cat home a few hours after the procedure, you should not underestimate the after-effects of neutering. Some cats prefer to be alone, others are increasingly looking for cuddles. Don't push your cat into anything he doesn't want. Let her take the initiative. If it crawls under the bed, behind the sofa or in the closet, don't try to lure it out. Respect their desire for rest and wait until your cat decides on its own to come out and take action.
Pay close attention to your cat but ignore its aggressiveness
Respecting the desire for quiet and privacy doesn't mean you have to ignore your cat. Put her water in front of her, prepare her a cozy "bed" and be there for her when she wanders around your leg and demands pats. Of course, you can offer her a little distraction in the form of a cat toy every now and then, but don't be disappointed if your cat doesn't feel like it yet or even reacts aggressively to your advances. If your cat attacks you, you should absolutely avoid eye contact and ward off the attack with a blanket or pillow that you hold between you and your cat. In this case, it is actually advisable to ignore the aggressive animal as much as possible. If you panic yourself, talk hectically to your cat or become loud and angry yourself, this will tend to increase the uncertainty and thus the aggressiveness of your cat.
How can I prevent problems after neutering?
Avoid stress before and after surgery
If your cat is about to be neutered, you can make a few preparations to make the time before and after the operation as stress-free as possible. Transport to the vet should be in a transport box - this means less stress for you and your cat than carrying it on an arm or on a leash. Cover the transport box with a towel or a cozy blanket on which your cat feels comfortable. If your cat does not yet know the transport box, you can open it up in the room a few days in advance so that your cat can sniff it voluntarily from time to time. The more normal the box is for her and the more comfortable she feels in it, the more relaxed she will come to the castration appointment. If your cat is calm and balanced, the conditions for the later anesthesia will improve and your cat will probably sleep more calmly and deeply. This reduces possible complications from the anesthesia.
Even after the 30-minute procedure, you should give your cat time and rest to wake up from the anesthesia. If your cat likes the pet carrier, let it sleep there. Put them in a warm, dark place close to you (the anesthetic will cool the cat down) and avoid loud noises. Stroke your cat every now and then - if she allows it and give her the feeling that everything is fine - even if she still looks disturbed after waking up from general anesthesia and is on very shaky legs.
Make time for your cat after the procedure
It is important that you take your time for the castration. If you are at work and have to leave your hangover or cat alone a lot, you should take a few days off or have the operation done before a (long) weekend. The operation and general anesthesia are exhausting and confusing for any animal. It is all the more important that you stand by your cat during this “uncertain time” and convey calm and security to you. Of course, this works best if you stay calm yourself and be as unconcerned as possible.
When do fragrance sprays, Bach flowers or other calming drops make sense?
If calm, affection and petting do not help and your cat is extremely insecure, nervous or even aggressive after the castration, special fragrance atomizers (for example for the socket) can provide relaxation. These are synthetically modeled pheromones, i.e. the cat's own odor messenger substances that promote the cat's well-being. For example, the mother cat's pheromone, which the mother gives to her kittens while suckling, sends the unconscious message that everything is fine and the cat is allowed to relax. Herbal tranquilizers, such as Bach flowers, can also be useful if the aggressive cat attacks you, your children or other animals living in the household.
Talk to your veterinarian or an animal psychologist
If you observe changes in your cat's behavior after neutering, you should definitely go to the vet again. This is the only way to rule out that pain is not the cause of your cat's aggressiveness. The vet can also advise you on whether treatment with Bach flowers or other herbal sedatives makes sense and how you should carry it out. If, despite the above measures, there is no improvement, the path to an animal psychogen can be worthwhile.
Aggressive behavior of the cat after neutering is the exception
Even if there are cats who react very disturbed to the castration and are aggressive after the operation: The vast majority of cats put up with a castration very quickly and - if you notice a change in character at all - are more peaceful and cuddly than before . Not having the castration performed out of concerns about aggressive behavior is certainly not advisable. Rather, speak to your veterinarian about your concerns and consider what steps you can take to make general anesthesia and neutering easier for you and your cat. If your cat is one of the few cats that react aggressively after the procedure, be patient: the problems described will usually go away after a few days or weeks and you will soon have your "old cat" back.
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