Will Neutering my Cat Reduce his Aggression and Territoriality?


I took in a stray male cat, now approx. 7 1/2 mos.
old. He got his 1st shots, worming, fecal exam,
flea treatments. I would like to get him neutered
next week. The problem: He started attacking/now
relentlessly pursuing my three-year-old spayed female.
He has her so frightened, she won’t come out of
my bedroom. This started about 4 weeks ago. Will
neutering resolve this since he was a stray found
along a back road?

Kittanning, PA

Neutering your cat may help with the problem, but it is not guaranteed to solve it.

Cats, like humans, are territorial creatures. Actually, comparing cats’ territoriality to ours isn’t really fair to cats. Humans are much more territorial than cats. Humans often purposefully kill conspecifics (that is to say, other people) who who violate our territory (for instance, prowlers). Cats almost never go that far.

But cats certainly do try to reject other cats if they do not want them in their territory. And, in the case of your male cat, your home is his territory.

Testosterone is a hormone that helps to drive aggression and territoriality in some individuals. Neutering your cat will reduce his testosterone levels. This may help with the problem. Neutering your cat definitely is the first step I would recommend in dealing with this.

If the problem persists after your cat’s testosterone levels have decreased (which can take a few weeks), then I recommend that you implement a behavior modification protocol.

Try to create a core territory for your female cat. The simplest way to do this is to split the house into two sections divided by a door. The male cat will not have access to the female’s section, and vice-versa. Over time, the male may cease to consider the female’s portion of the house as part of his territory, and he may be less likely to harass her in her core territory once you decide to open the door.

I do not recommend squirting water at the male or punishing him when he harasses the female. This may only serve to rile him up, and it could cause him to attack her more aggressively.

Hopefully, over time the two will learn to live in peace.

Photo: Booger defends his territory against a heterospecific.

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