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Cats Spaying


FACTSHEET

 

 

 
 

Contents

 

What is spaying and when should it be done?

Spaying is the surgical removal of the ovaries and uterus of the female cat, thus making her sterile. Another term used is "ovariohysterectomy." We recommend spaying your kitten between 3 and 6 months of age, before her first heat, when sexual development is about complete. Studies on spaying as early as 8 weeks of age ("early-age spay") indicate it to be safe and to not cause any behavioral or physical problems.

 

Why are female cats spayed?

Female cats are spayed in order to prevent the behaviors of being "in heat," attraction of tomcats, production of unwanted kittens, and development of cancers of the female reproductive tract and mammary glands.

 

The behavior changes of a female cat in heat (estrus) are usually of concern to guardians, with her constant vocalization, posture changes, and attempts to escape outside. The heat period lasts about 2-3 weeks. The female cat will cycle for months on end, waxing and waning in and out of heat. During this time, tomcats are attracted to your home.

 

A female cat can have her first heat cycle as early as 4 months of age. She can have two litters per year, two to five kittens per litter, and produce kittens until she is in her teens. In one female cat's life, many kittens can be produced, which explains why millions of cats are destroyed every year.

 

Unaltered female cats are prone to cancers of the ovaries and mammary glands, and infections of the uterus including pyometra, a usually life-threatening toxic infection of the uterus.

 

What are the effects of spaying?

The level of the female hormone, estrogen, declines rapidly after spaying. The spayed female cat will not show signs of estrus or be able to have kittens.

 

A spayed female cat is no longer at risk of cancer of the ovaries or infections of the uterus. If spayed before her first heat, your cat will not be prone to mammary gland cancer. This is the primary reason we recommend that you have your female kitten spayed and spayed early!

 

A spayed female cat has fewer medical problems, lives longer on the average, does not add to the pet overpopulation problem, and makes a more loving and rewarding pet.

 

I have heard that...

Spayed cats become fat and lazy.

False. Too much food and lack of exercise leads to obesity. You must be willing to control the cat's food.

 

Cats should have one litter before being spayed.

False. This is an old wives' tale. On the contrary, the surgery is harder on the cat that has had a litter, is more complicated, and more expensive.

 

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What is involved in spaying my kitten?

This elective surgery should be performed when the kitten is healthy and has finished her kitten vaccines.

 

Anesthesia is required to perform this operation. Although anesthesia always carries a degree of risk, the modern anesthetics and monitoring equipment used in modern hospitals and clinics minimizes this risk.

 

The surgery is performed aseptically after the abdomen has been shaved and surgically scrubbed. An incision is made midline on the abdomen through the skin and muscle layers. The ovaries and uterus are located, the corresponding arteries/veins are ligated, and the uterine body is ligated. The ovaries and uterus are removed, the abdomen is checked for bleeding, and the abdominal muscle and skin layers are sutured.

 

An analgesic is given to prevent discomfort and the kitten is monitored during recovery from anesthesia.

 

It will be necessary to withhold food after 6 PM the night before, and to withhold water after midnight the night before.

 

Your cat may be able to go home the same day, or she may be ready for discharge after a 1- or 2-night stay. This policy varies among veterinary hospitals.

 

Please withhold food and water for one hour after returning home. The cat should be given a small amount of food and water that evening and returned to normal feeding the next morning.

 

Confinement indoors and restriction of activity for one week will provide the cat rest and you the opportunity to watch for swelling or bleeding. Please make an appointment to have the sutures removed 7-10 days after the surgery.

 

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