A shocked and surprised cat.
A shocked and surprised cat. Photography by JZHunt/Thinkstock.

7 Things You Never Knew You Wanted to Know About Cat Balls

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Long ago, I was single and I liked to attend cocktail parties. I quickly learned that my testicle stories nearly always could get tipsy female partygoers giggling. To be clear, my testicle stories were not stories about my testicles. I may have been young and dumb, but I was not as clueless as Anthony Weiner. The testicles I was referring to were cat balls.

How long ago was this? Well, let’s see. I was single, and I regularly performed feline neuters. The last time those conditions were met was well over a decade ago. Many of the stories were not actually mine. I have always taken my job very seriously, so I have never disrespected a patient by, say, playing a practical joke with his testicles. But I confess to having a few acquaintances who have crossed that line. Some of my stories were actually theirs — however, I did always provide proper attribution when chatting up young ladies.

Photo of Dr. Eric Barchas. Photography by Liz Acosta.
Dr. Eric Barchas. Photography by Liz Acosta.

So, practical jokes and all, here are the facts on cat testicles.

1. Male vets don’t squirm when neutering cats

Here is how a cat is neutered: The cat should be properly prepared for anesthesia by running appropriate pre-anesthetic testing. IV fluids should be administered. Pain killers should be administered. The cat is then anesthetized. Appropriate anesthetic monitoring should take place. So far, so good.

Some people, however, turn various shades of green when they hear what comes next. The scrotum is shaved and prepared in a sterile fashion. A syringe may be used to inject a local anesthetic (numbing agent) directly through the scrotum and into the testicle. A scalpel blade is used to incise the scrotum directly over the testicle. Digital pressure is used to express the testicle and its surrounding connective tissue through the scrotum. Traction is used to break down the connective tissue affixing the testicle to the body. The blood supply to the testicle is ligated using a special technique in which it is tied in a knot. The testicle is then cut from the connective tissue and blood supply and is subsequently disposed of.

A vet with a black and white cat.
A vet with a black-and-white cat. Photography by Shutterstock

Back in the day, many people asked me how I could perform such a procedure without cringing and doubling over. The answer was simple: They weren’t my testicles. Removing a cat testicles was never a problem for me. However…

2. Cat balls go in the trash

Medical trash.
Medical trash. Photography by Shutterstock.

After the cat testicles are removed, where do they go? In a healthy cat there is no need to submit them to a laboratory. And they are not biohazards. They are disposed of in a more simple manner — the garbage can.

3. Cat testicles are a bit like boogers

Let’s go back to the proper, humane feline neutering technique. Specifically, the part where the testicle is cut from the connective tissue and blood supply and subsequently disposed of. That sounds simple, but it actually is a bit more difficult than one would expect. After the testicle is excised, the veterinarian will be left with a testicle in one hand and a surgical instrument in the other. The veterinarian must not let go of the surgical instrument; the next step is to complete the ligation of the blood supply, which requires the surgical instrument and both hands. Therefore the cat testicle must be removed from the hand that holds it. Easier said than done.

Cat balls are sticky. They stick to surgical gloves much like boogers stick to kids’ fingers. And many vets with testicles in their hands resort to the same tactic as nose-picking children: They flick. When they flick, the results can be unpredictable. Testicles can take errant flight patterns and end up sticking to walls or windows. I once saw a cat testicle strike — and stick to — a co-worker’s face.

4. Cat balls can be used for practical jokes

I haven’t done it, but I have heard stories. If several cat testicles are placed around the feet of an unsuspecting person, that person will end up with testicles stuck in his or her shoe treads. I am told that they’re very difficult to remove. Cat testicles bear an uncanny resemblance to cocktail onions. I have heard of vet clinics where people must be very careful before sipping on beverages.

5. Cat testicles are tasty to dogs

It turns out that cat feces is not the only feline product that dogs will consume. I once heard of an incident involving a feline neuter (remember, testicles go in the trash) , a resident hospital dog and a door to the surgical suite left open after the procedure. Your imagination can do the rest.

6. There are people in this world who have cat testicles on their mantlepieces

Rarely, people ask the vet to return their cat’s testicles after a neuter. Many vets oblige, usually returning them suspended in an alcohol preservative.

7. Despite the levity, neutering is a serious matter

I want to be clear about something: Veterinary medicine has always been a serious business for me. People may love to joke about cat testicles, but neutering a cat is a true surgical procedure and any good vet will take the procedure seriously. And, although neutering of cats has been widely adopted, it is becoming more controversial. Testicles serve a biological purpose beyond reproduction in cats. When and even whether they should be removed are now topics of debate among experts. At this time, the benefits of neutering still decisively appear to outweigh the drawbacks. Nonetheless, responsible vets are closely monitoring the situation in order to ensure that we always to do right by our patients.

Thumbnail: Photography by JZHunt/Thinkstock. 

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17 thoughts on “7 Things You Never Knew You Wanted to Know About Cat Balls”

  1. After my male tabby was neutered and he reached an age of 3yrs he seems to be very interested in my crotch and balls. Although still behaves like a kitten and wants to suckle on my chin and claw my face? He was bottle fed and thinks I’m his mom. Was neutered about 18 weeks along with spaying his sister and both have a suckling and ball interest. Any advice to help or correct this behavior?

  2. my cat was recently fixed . now it looks like something big and red is coming out his ball sack . is this normal . my cat seems like he’s in pain . any feedback is appreciated

  3. I see on the surgery report for one of my TNR cats that they could not remove one of his testicles so he was given a vasectomy. I notice this cat seems to walk to the porch to eat and the other cats scatter. Would retaining one testicle make him likely to be more aggressive?

  4. I’m looking around the web to find out what you would call a male cat that never had any testicles. My cat has had two surgeries and no sign of them at all.

  5. Thanks for the funny and educational article. I never though that neutering a male cat was disfiguring until we adopted a mom cat and 2 of her baby boys a couple years ago. One of the babies is white with a tabby face and black feet, tail and ears. When he started to mature his scrotum was black and was actually quite decorative. Too bad it had to go.

  6. I just read a comment posted by “Bev” which included a question about whether there was a way to neuter male cats without removing the testicles. I wanted to respond by saying that there definitely is.
    I’ve also read quite a number of recent articles that talked about the problems associated with neutering too early in a cat’s or dog’s life and the many negative reactions. Some of the topics covered had to do with the animal’s appearance, the pain of the procedure, and the idea that the cat will ‘miss having sex’ after removal of the testes. Most of these were expressed by men who were either misinformed or totally uninformed about it.
    But the one thing that caught my interest had to do with how removal of the testicles too early in the animal’s life had negative impacts on the growth of the animal’s bones. Interestingly, the solution to this also inadvertently addresses some of the people’s other concerns, namely the appearance aspect and its sexual ability afterwards.
    Recent research found that when testes are removed too soon, particularly in certain breeds of dogs, the growth plates of certain bones were affected. This resulted in the animals getting hip dysplasia and other skeletal abnormalities later in their lives, but earlier than what would have been expected.
    Their conclusion, their answer to the problem, was two-fold. One was to simply wait until the dog was older. As was the common practice until recent years, they suggested waiting until the dogs were four to six months old before neutering. The other, which was the one that applies here and surprised me by its simplicity, was to do what’s been done with many farm animals for centuries. That is, rather than remove the testicles, simply perform a vasectomy. That way, not only are the necessary hormones still being secreted, but the appearance of the animal isn’t altered either. And, as an added benefit, the procedure is so simple there is very little pain and the recovery period is much shorter.
    Now all we have to do is educate the veterinarians. Sounds doable to me.
    What are your thoughts?

  7. Can you get a cat neutered without removing his testicles? I would not do it to my husband, because I want him to still enjoy life…. I think it is a form of abuse! I still want my cat to enjoy life, without having to create babies. I feel they should still feel the closeness of another cat… do you undestand what I an saying, is this possible. I would pay more, I want them to live a happy life.

      1. Hi Maria, our kitten is scheduled to have his neutering surgery tomorrow morning. I asked them if they can still keep the ‘balls’ on, but just have the testicles taken out of them. They told me they take those off, too! I asked them is that normal, because I had heard that was an older practice and that now cats keep them. They said they don’t know anyone who does that, and that it could be done, but the surgery is much more “involved.” I had thought for sure nobody cut them off anymore…. it seems a little harsh! I’m going to try to pay extra to allow them to do the more “involved” surgery, because I hate to alter his boyish looks!

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