Cats are known for being finicky eaters, and their dietary needs can be quite specific. But did you know that neutered cats have even more specialised nutritional requirements? When a cat is neutered, their hormones change, which can have an impact on their metabolism and overall health.
It’s very important for cat owners to understand what neutering means for their cat and how they can ensure their cat is getting the specific nutrition he or she needs. In this article, we'll explore why neutered cats need specific food and what you can do to ensure that your feline friend is getting all the nutrients they need to stay happy and healthy. Whether you're a new cat owner or a life-long cat lover, understanding your pet's nutritional needs is essential to their well-being.
What do we mean when we say a cat is neutered?
Neutering refers to the surgical procedure in which a male or female cat's reproductive organs are removed to prevent them from reproducing. Neutered cats are also sometimes referred to as "spayed" in the case of female cats or "sterilised".
Cats are commonly neutered for a number of reasons, including preventing unwanted pregnancies, reducing the risk of certain health problems, and reducing certain behaviours like roaming and aggression. When a cat is neutered, it can no longer reproduce, and the hormonal changes that occur as a result of the surgery can also have an impact on the cat's behaviour and health.
How does neutering, spaying or sterilising affect a cat’s nutritional needs?
Neutering can have a significant impact on a cat's nutritional needs. When a cat is neutered, their hormones change, which can affect their metabolism. Neutered cats tend to have a slower metabolism than unneutered cats, which means that they require fewer calories to maintain a healthy weight. If a neutered cat is fed the same amount of food as an unneutered cat, they may become overweight or obese. We’ll go into this a bit later.
In addition to requiring fewer calories, neutered cats also have different nutritional requirements than unneutered cats. Neutered cats are at a higher risk for urinary tract problems, such as bladder stones and urinary tract infections. Feeding your neutered cat a diet that is high in moisture and low in magnesium can help prevent these health problems. This can be done by ensuring your cat has fresh drinking water available at all times and by choosing a food that is pH neutral and developed to maintain that neutral pH while it is being digested by the cat.
What’s the difference between neutered and unneutered cats’ diets?
Neutered cats have different nutritional requirements than unneutered cats. As we've already discussed, neutered cats require fewer calories than unneutered cats. However, they also require different proportions of macronutrients, such as protein, fat, and carbohydrates.
Protein is especially important for cats, as it helps support their muscle mass and overall health. Neutered cats require a diet that is high in protein, as they are at a higher risk for muscle loss than unneutered cats. A diet that is high in protein can help maintain your neutered cat's muscle mass and keep them healthy.
Fat is also an essential nutrient for cats, as it provides them with energy and helps support their skin and coat health. However, neutered cats require a diet that is lower in fat than unneutered cats. This is because neutered cats have a slower metabolism and are at a higher risk for obesity. Feeding your neutered cat a diet that is lower in fat can help prevent them from becoming overweight or obese.
Carbohydrates are not essential for cats, but they can provide them with energy. However, neutered cats require a diet that is low in carbohydrates. This is because a diet that is high in carbohydrates can contribute to weight gain and obesity.
Common health issues in neutered cats related to diet
Feeding your neutered cat a balanced diet is essential for their overall health and well-being. However, if their diet is not properly balanced, they may be at risk for certain health problems. Here are a few common health issues that can be related to diet in neutered cats:
Obesity is a common health problem in cats, but it's especially common in neutered cats. This is because neutered cats have a slower metabolism and require fewer calories than unneutered cats. If a neutered cat is fed too many calories, they may become overweight or obese. Obesity can lead to a variety of health problems, such as diabetes, arthritis, and heart disease.
Urinary tract problems
Neutered male cats are at a higher risk for urinary tract problems, such as FLUTD (feline lower urinary tract disease). FLUTD is a term used by vets to describe different conditions that cause pain and discomfort for cats when they try to urinate. These conditions include bladder stones, blockages in the tubes that carry urine, and inflammation of the bladder (cystitis). Around three out of every 100 cats will experience FLUTD at some point in their lives, and some may have recurring problems.
Feeding your neutered cat a food that has been developed with a neutral pH can help prevent these health problems. It's also important to make sure that your cat has access to fresh drinking water at all times. Placing a few bowls around the house or having running water such as a fountain is a great way of encouraging them to drink more. There are many small steps you can take to ensure your neutered cat has good urinary tract health.
Feeding your cat a diet that is high in carbohydrates can contribute to dental problems, such as tooth decay and gum disease. This is because carbohydrates can stick to your cat's teeth and promote the growth of bacteria. Feeding your cat a diet that is low in carbohydrates can help prevent dental problems and keep their teeth and gums healthy. Or feeding your cat a kibble that is very crunchy can help too.
Why are neutered cats prone to putting on weight?
Neutered cats are prone to putting on weight for several reasons. One of the most significant is the decrease in their activity levels after they get neutered. The surgery affects their hormone levels and metabolism, leading to a slower metabolism and a decrease in their overall energy levels. This, in turn, results in the accumulation of excess body fat.
Additionally, neutered cats also tend to eat more than they need to. This is because their metabolism slows down, and they require fewer calories to maintain their weight. However, they may still feel hungry and consume more food than they require, leading to weight gain.
What cat food should I feed my neutered cat?
We recommend feeding your neutered cat a diet rich in protein. A high protein diet plays a vital role in any cat’s health. However Amino acids that increase metabolic rates such as L-carnitine are particularly important for neutered cats. L-carnitine occurs naturally in animal-based proteins, like meat, poultry, and fish, and some commercial cat foods, like Tippaws dry food, also contain it as a supplement. Studies suggest that L-carnitine may have other health benefits for cats, such as improving heart health, physical performance, and reducing the risk of infections.
What should I feed my neutered kitten?
According to ISFM, research has shown that kittens that are neutered but still growing may have different dietary needs. The organisation quotes Vendramini et all, 2020 in saying that protein and fibre levels should increase once a kitten has been neutered, while fat and carbohydrate should decrease.
The dietary needs would depend to a large extent on the age of the kitten at neutering - some kittens are neutered at around 4 months old, in which case they should remain on kitten food to ensure they receive the correct levels of essential nutrients that kittens require. It is generally recommended to continue feeding kitten food until 1 year old, although the major developmental milestones will typically be completed by 6 months and the rate of growth will have slowed considerably by this point so many owners do transition kittens to adult food before 12 months.
There is an increased risk of weight (fat) gain in kittens following neutering which if maintained into adulthood can be associated with adverse health effects in adult cats, so it is best to try and prevent this. Kitten diets, including Tippaws Kitten dry food, tend to be slightly higher in fat content (to support the high energy demands of rapid growth) and therefore to help avoid potential weight gain in neutered kittens that continue on this food one approach would be to reduce the amount of food offered to the kitten.
Not all kittens will necessarily become overweight after neutering so it is important for owners to observe and monitor their kitten's body weight, size and shape and adjust the amount of food offered accordingly - this would be the case whether the kitten was being fed on kitten food or a neutered cat food.
We'd always advise that you talk to your vet before making this switch for your kitten as they can advise on breed-specific and individual needs for transitioning kittens from kitten to adult food.
Where can I buy dry food for neutered cats?
Tippaws neutered range contains added L-carnitine to support with increasing your neutered cat's metabolic rate. By including L-carnitine in your neutered cat's diet, you can support their metabolic rate and help prevent weight gain. Head to our shop to try it for yourself. New customers get 15% off their first order when they sign up to our newsletter.