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The Unique Nutritional Needs of Spayed and Neutered Cats

Hooray! More cat owners than ever are spaying and neutering their pets. Seventy-six million cats in the United States are spayed and neutered--and for good reason. Spaying or neutering can help cats to live longer, prevents unwanted litters (millions of unwanted cats enter shelters every year), reduces their tendency to roam, and cause some to have a friendlier disposition. However, when a cat is spayed or neutered, hormones change. The same hormonal and metabolic changes that result in those positives can also contribute to a cat's overeating and loss of energy. Decreased energy, paired with an increased appetite, can quickly lead to weight gain (spayed/neutered cats are nearly 3.5 times more likely to be overweight than intact cats), and, in some cases, obesity. Owners may notice that their cat seems lazy, has an insatiable appetite or begs and meows for food; these behaviors may be the result of spaying and neutering. And, for the 88 percent of owners in the United States who have a cat that is spayed or neutered, it turns out that the hormonal and metabolic changes that occur as a result of surgery affect how your cat should be fed. Royal Canin realized that there was a nutritional need for spayed and neutered cats that wasn't being addressed. After all, overweight cats are an epidemic in this country. The number of overweight or obese cats hovers at 55% according to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention. Royal Canin offers a line of SPAYED/NEUTERED formulas that contain controlled fat levels and a unique blend of fibers to support the decreased energy and increased appetite of spayed and neutered cats. The formulas also include added antioxidants to promote health in growing and aging cats.     So, your cat is spayed or neutered. That's great! But now what/ The answer is in education and science. Talk to your veterinarian about your cat's individual needs and determine the best nutritional plan that addresses those needs. Cats are unique creatures and more and more is being discovered about them every day. The right nutrition can have a huge effect on your cat's health--and add years to your life together. If you'd like to try Royal Canin's SPAY/NEUTER formulas, you can find your nearest Petco here.   [caption id="attachment_7420" align="alignright" width="300"] Steve Dale and his cat, Roxy[/caption] Steve Dale is a certified dog and cat behavior consultant. He writes a twice-weekly syndicated newspaper column and is the host of two syndicated radio shows. Most recently he is the author of two e-books that answer common (and not-so-common) pet behavior problems, Good Dog! and Good Cat! (available wherever e-books are sold). Read his blog here.  
  • Teri, Brighton, Coco and Disco

    I remember in the ‘old’ days (I’ve been a vet tech for 40 years, so yes, old!) that they said spaying/neutering changed the metabolism by ~ 15% and it’s good to know that newer studies are showing that it’s more than that. With obesity in pets (and humans) such a big health issue, I’d like to share a couple of my personal experiences.

    When I retired from breeding Cornish Rex cats and neutered my stud cat at 10 years old, he had always maintained an adult weight of ~ 6#. After he was neutered, he gradually put on weight, and within a year was up to 8#. Nothing in his diet or activity level had changed except for neutering. Needless to say, he is on a diet now, and the Royal Canin sounds like it might be a nice one to try once he is down to his target weight of 7#

    Another of my cats was/is obese and when looking at the options for a diet for him, I found all the recommendations on the bags of kibble were not accurate for his body type and activity level, saying he should have about 325kcal/per day. My veterinarian (who I work for, too) calculated his weight loss needs at 195kcal/day. So it’s understandable that pet owners, without working with their vet or a veterinary nutritionist, would become frustrated when trying to diet their pet. Again, the Royal Canin food might be a nice option for them once the extra
    weight is off the pet.

  • kalimero007

    I’m sorry but I am dismayed and almost appalled at this blog entry. I absolutely agree that spayed or neutered pets CAN gain weight after their surgeries. However, feeding a proper diet from the beginning negates that concern. For cats, a grain-free, wet-only diet is the way to go. My cats never had any problems with weight gain. This is merely a marketing ploy and saddens me that some animals’ caregivers will see this and give their pets nutritionally deficient food. Royal Canin has by-products in their food and is not grain-free. Cats are obligate carnivores; their people need to know this to give their feline family members the best diet possible.

  • catdaddy

    Really. Do you think Royal Canin would actually make a product that was bad for your cats? They are the leaders in this business.

  • Royal Canin

    Good morning kalimero007- At Royal Canin, we are focused on providing the pet with the most precise nutritional solution that we can. When creating a formula, we look at the nutritional value of the ingredient and the quality of that ingredient. Grains are used in our diets because they offer a diverse nutrient profile that is the perfect compliment to the other nutrients in the diet. To discuss this further, please contact us at 800-592-6687 or email us at

    Thank you!

  • kalimero007

    I do appreciate your response, Nicole; I realize you likely get many messages both in support of and against your products and responding to them must be time-consuming. Even so, I am sorry that your answer does not change my opinion of the use of grains in the feline diet. There is just too much documentation as to the issues it can cause.

  • maris

    Thank you for this information! We have a recently adopted and spayed cat who has such a big appetite, I actually found your article by googling “my shelter cat has a huge appetite.” My other two cats were also spayed and neutered, and one was big but not fat, and their appetites and weight were normal. But the female cat was seven when we got her and had her spayed. Also, she was a smaller breed of cat.
    But my cute chunko now, has me a little worried. She was chubby when we got her and we thought it might be because she has spent 2 months in a rather small cage at the shelter. I also worried that since I named her Pumpkin, I might have given her a bad idea.
    I will try this new cat food. It can’t hurt, and hopefully it will help. Thanks again!

  • watermater

    My vet does not recommend a wet-only diet. The hard food allows cats to clean and keep their teeth healthy. We give our cats wet food in the morning and dry food throughout the day.

  • the sophmore

    A friend gave me a $25 gift card for Petco. So, for the first time ever, I purchased Purina brand cat chow from your Nashville-West store in Nashville, TN. It will also be the last time ever. To say that I am EXCESSIVELY disappointed with the condition of the product would be an ENORMOUS understatement.

    I bought 3 bags (7 lbs. ea.) last week. It struck me curious that there were moths flying in and around the food shelves. When I started opening the bags (2 of the 3 so far), I was a little more enlightened as to why moths were present in that part of your store. Both bags had larvae in the glue area of the packaging as well as in the food itself.

    I went to target (where the same food is around a dollar cheaper AND larvae-free) and bought a bag to feed my cats. The third bag I purchased from your company remains unopened. When I feel that I can open it without gagging (to see if it is also infested), I will do so. Though, I am confident it too will be yet another full bag of food to wind-up in the trash.

    The $25 gift card has been thoroughly wasted. My first and lasting impression of Petco is that your company has a HUGE disregard for cleanliness and safety of pet food (let alone reasonable pricing [as stated above: same product is a dollar cheaper elsewhere]). For those reasons, I plan to NEVER visit a Petco store again . . . just thought you people should know for your (lack of) quality control purposes.