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petdrz, Veterinarian
Category: Cat Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 7367
Experience:  Over 30 years of experience in caring for dogs and cats.
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Dear Vet, I have a male cat who's 10 months old and I have

Customer Question

Dear Vet,
I have a male cat who's 10 months old and I have decided not to neuter him for ethical reasons. When I took this decision I was well aware of the responsibility it implies, to always keep an eye on him to avoid unwanted kittens. We normally live in a city apartment where is totally indoor, but we have now moved for the summer (2 months) to a countryside house in the middle of the woods (no fence, no walls). The first few days I have left him free to roam about and he was very happy, but now a family of stray cats has appeared.
I did the impossible to divide the territory between them, keeping my cat on a leash for long walks just on one side of the house, leaving the other side to the other cats but the tension between them was palpable.
My cat is definitely an alpha cat and so I believe is the male stray cat; the tension has been building up with the male stray cat jumping on the window shelves just in front of my cat even when he was indoor and I had to buy a water gun to keep it distant, with some slight improvement, but no final solution.
The problem is that my cat now wants to be outside all the time and he is beginning to rebel against me and againts the leash, re-directing his anxiety and aggression towards me when I try to bring him in; he doesn't let me pick him up, he bites and scratches pretty badly and even starts panting. I fell like the bond and the trust between us is breaking. Today he got read of the leash and just ran into the woods, in the other cats territory, where he climbed all possible trees and then almost got into a fight with one of them. I have threwn myself in the middle to avoid the fight but to be honest, I was very scared.
A part of me would just LOVE leave him free and made him experience life for real, as keeping him indoor while he meows constantly is just painful for both, but I feel responsible for the decision I made not to neuter him, and I don't think it would be fair to leave some pregnant female cat behind me when I will go back to the city next month. Plus, I have seen cats fights in the past and I know how bad they can be, and I dread the thought of it. Not to talk about all the illnesses he could pick, and other dangers like other big animals who live in the woods such as wildboars and badgers.
(we often see them at night pretty close to the house).
I'm really suffering taking the right decision, and he is suffering too. I've tried to leave him alone tied with a 5meters long leash in the garden near the house but he almost strangled himself while trying to get rid of the harness.
He’s a very strong, big and muscular tabby cat and when he decides he doesn’t want something he just manage to do what he wants. I've tried being very sweet, not losing my temper or show anxiety, I’ve tried being assertive, but the reality is that I'm crumbling. He meows at night too cause he wants to go out and I'm staring feeling a wreck and guilt ridden, like I took all the wrong decisions for everybody and nobody is happy, my cat, the wild cats nor me .
I know this message was very long,please forgive me; but even if you can help me with one single decision that would be very, very appreciated, as I can't decide what's the right thing to do anymore. Many thanks in advance!
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Cat Veterinary
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Hi there, I was hoping to have an urgent answer but almost a day has passed... My cat is still restless and turning aggressive towards me, I've tried to keep him indoor but he meows constantly and is obviously suffering, as me. I'm almost to the point of giving up completely being here . Please let me know what is the best course of action. It is urgent. Thank you.
Expert:  petdrz replied 2 years ago.
Hello and thanks for trusting me to help you and your pet today. I'm a veterinarian with over 25 years experience and would be happy to work with you.
The best course of action for his safety, and physical and mental well being and to stop the creation of yet more stray cats is to neuter him now. There is nothing unethical about that and he can still enjoy not only a bond with you and your family but also a quality life where he is not constantly anxious to act out what his instincts are telling him to do, even though that choice will ultimately lead to an early demise as well as unwanted kittens. Letting him run wild now is irresponsible in many ways as he did not learn how to survive on his own and now relies on humans. The life of a cat in the wild is not an easy one and while it may seem that it is the natural thing to do, in reality, the negative aspects far outweigh any positive ones. These would include many that you have already mentioned.
Even in neutering him now, you may have problems keeping him as an indoor cat as he has already had a taste of the outside life. My suggestion would be to have the procedure performed before moving back to the city apartment.
There are numerous ways to stimulate him mentally and physically when you return to the apartment. I am going to include a link to a website that has suggestions for enriching the environment of indoor only cats.
I hope this is helpful. Please let me know if you have ANY other questions. My goal is to give you 100% satisfaction and if you are not yet satisfied, please reply so I can clarify for you.
Dr Z
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Dear Dr Z.,thank you for your reply. I understand perfectly what you are saying and I do agree completely that not being neutered makes the situation more complex and that it was very naive of me to bring him here, as I didn't think that other cats could be here too. Please understand that I'm taking the responsability of not making him mate very seriously and since the other cats appeared I have never let him out without a leash.At the same time, I don't believe that neutering animals solve all problems, for us, or for them, and I believe that we take for granted a solution that has many side effects on the happiness of the animals. Just as we take antibiotics without considering the (serious) side effects, I think people should be warned and aware of what really happens in our pets when neutered. I have a first hand experience of these effects on a previous cat that I had, so my "ethical" choice is not only based on theory or ignorance, but on research and first hand experience. The help I was looking for was in the respect of this choice, but I understand that 99% of veterinarians would tell me the very same things that you have, and again, you are right in saying that the situation I have put him in is not fair for him and just too stressful; for this, I'm taking full responsibility, and I’m ready to give up to my holiday if the situation won’t improve.While I was waiting for your answer I bought some Feliway and I have taken the decision to keep taking him out twice a day on a leash for 30 minutes each time, facing the possibility that I'll be scractched trying to bring him home, as a consequence of my superficiality in bringing him here. So far things have improved, a little, at least. Keeping him inside the whole time was just driving him insane and I do understand him, completely; at the same time - as you say- it would be irresponsable to leave him completely free. Keeping him on a leash makes me hope that he will adapt better to being back in the city apartment, as some sort of compromise between being an indoor/outdoor cat. Perhaps all this is wishful thinking, and I will pay other consequences of my choices, but no... I'm not going to neuter him. I don't think neutered animals are happier animals at all, I think neuter them just makes our life easier, with fewer responsabilities, and it's an approach to having an animal that I just don't share. I thank you for your help anyway, and for the link too. I have link I would like to share with you too: can absolutely disagree with it, but not say that it's superficial, I believe.Thanks again for your support.
Expert:  petdrz replied 2 years ago.
I do understand your points and have to admit that most owners who chose not to neuter are not as responsible as you and would not go to such lengths.
I did read the article in the link that you sent but have to point out that was written about dogs and not cats. Their social structure is completely different in nature and as such, many of the points do not hold true. The instincts of intact male cats is to fight and if not allowed to, it can lead to stress and anxiety on the cat, as well as behavior problems. The aggression that he is showing towards you is referred to as displaced aggression and occurs because the other cats he can't get to triggers tension. Please take care so that you do not get hurt, but if you have ever seen two male cats fight, know that you may be on the receiving end of that.
I respect your opinion and commend your effort to do right by him, but I think we will have to agree to disagree on this matter. I also fear that things may not be the same as they were previously when you get back to the city. Good luck and please be safe.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Thank you very much for taking the time to answer again, and to read that article. I really appreciate it, as I genuinely appreciate your concern for me.The point that you make is a very valid one; I was aware that the link was about dogs, and I'm also aware that I'm not a veterinarian, and I know very little. Still, some of the points he made really resonated with me and with my experience with previous cats.My current cat had some aggression problems from the very beginning; they gave it to me as an 8 weeks old kitten, but I now believe that he was much younger, probably 6 weeks old at the most. I suspect he's been taken away from his mom too soon, and it hasn't been exactly easy to raise him, but I had finally managed to find a way to mellow him and being a good friend for him. He still alternates super affectionate moments with aggression, but recently the type of aggression changed from play aggression to, as you say, re-directed aggression and I feel pretty terrible, as perhaps it could have been avoided by not bringing him here.What you tell me about not ever being the same even when back home obviusoly really scares me, but before taking any drastic decision (and for me, spaying an animal to keep him as a pet is very drastic) I will think about this whole experience as a lesson and will try to keep an open mind, without any prejudice.Thanks you for listening to me in a difficult moment.
the very best to you
Expert:  petdrz replied 2 years ago.
I am replying back just so that I can exit the question for now. There is no need to respond now as when you do, it calls me back to this post and prevents me from answering others until I respond to you. I would enjoy being updated on how things are going for him and you in the future.
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