Spaying and neutering are very common topics between pet owners and their veterinarians. Most veterinarians will advise you to do the surgery since it provides your pet with a happy and healthy life. A lot of people are afraid of this surgery because they do not know exactly what it is.
Before making the decision to spay or neuter, pet parents have a lot of questions to ask. The most common questions are: what is cat neutering, when to spay a cat, why should I get my cat spayed, and is it safe to spay and neuter a cat?
You will find most of the answers in this article, and you can always contact your vet for more information.
What Do Spaying and Neutering Mean?
1. What is Cat Spaying?
The medical word for spaying is Ovariohysterectomy, which means the removal of the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and uterus from a female cat.
How is it done? First of all, during the surgery, female cats will have a small incision made 1 cm (less or more) below the belly button into the abdomen. Then the vet will search for the reproductive tract, and both ovaries and the uterus are completely removed through this incision.
Then the incision is closed with two layers of stitches under the skin that will dissolve and be absorbed by the body over time, depending on the type of sutures used.
How long does it take to spay a cat? A female cat spay takes longer than male cat neuter because it is more complex. It is usually between fifteen to twenty minutes, depending on the cat’s age and whether she is in her heat cycle because if she is in heat, the uterus will be more delicate. So it takes more time.
2. What is Cat Neutering?
Orchiectomy, also known as neutering, refers to the removal of the testes of a male cat.
How is it done? Male cats have a small incision made in the skin of the scrotum, and the testicles are removed, including the epididymis. The incision is not sealed, and it does need sutures. But it will close on its own with time.
How long does it take to neuter a cat? Male cat neutering is a very fast procedure. It can be done in under 2 minutes.
When talking about the safety of the surgery, we have to take into consideration many points, including anesthesia, how complex the procedure is, the cat’s breed, the cat’s age and health, and last but not least, the veterinarian doing the procedure.
- The surgery is done under general anesthesia by a professional licensed vet who is capable of doing the spaying or neutering without major complications.
- If your cat is a Persian or any brachycephalic breed, a specialized vet in anesthesia should be present.
- If your cat is older than 10 years old or has an illness, there’s a bigger chance of complications.
Advantages of Spaying and Neutering Cats
1. Decrease Cat Overpopulation
The world is facing overpopulation of dogs and cats, which is not only causing disease spread but a wildlife issue as well. Cats can be an invasive species, which means in large numbers, they can be a threat to wild animals like birds and snakes.
Unfortunately, a lot of countries choose to euthanize unwanted cats and kittens. Other countries choose to eliminate them in violent and unethical ways like poisoning or shooting. With the big number of strays, cats won’t be living a naturally healthy life because of the fast spreading of viruses and diseases leading to so many dead strays.
The most ethical way to stop this problem is spaying and neutering. It will reduce the number of strays without causing any harm to the animal.
What if the cat is not stray?
Taking care of your cat’s kittens over generations is not an easy job. If you were able to handle it financially, it won’t be an easy job finding good homes for a lot of kittens and some of them might end up abandoned or mistreated.
2. Stop or Decrease Spraying
In order to mark their territory, unneutered males tend to spray (urinating outside the litter box and around the house). Neutered cats don’t have the drive to mark and protect their territory and are less likely to spray. This behavior is a big problem for male cat owners, especially since their urine smells very strong when they are unneutered.
3. Eliminate Risks of Some Diseases
The health benefits of spaying a female cat are very significant and important.
- Eliminates the risk of uterine or ovarian cancer.
- Reduces or eliminates the risk of getting breast cancer.
- Prevents pyometra, the infection of the uterus.
The health benefits of neutering a male cat are also very important.
- Decreases chances of getting the prostate disease.
- Reduces the urge to fight over mates and territory, which will reduce injuries from fights.
- Reduces the chances of catching feline leukemia virus and feline AIDS that are transmitted when an infected cat bites another healthy cat.
4. Prevent the Cat from Running Away from Home
Roaming and running away from their home is another important reason to spay and neuter your cat. No matter how much your cat loves you, it will leave the house and roam searching for a mate.
This can happen in both male and female unneutered and unspayed cats. Some cats even fall off balconies and windows while driven by another cat’s smell. It will expose them to the dangers of cars and strangers as well. When they are spayed or neutered, cats will stop searching for a mate.
5. Decrease Bad Behavior
- Decrease aggression. Neutering generally reduces aggressive behaviors in pets, especially if it’s driven by hormones. Neutered cats are calmer and less likely to bite or attack. They will less likely go into cat fights which means less injuries and diseases etc.
- Like dogs, some cats will start humping and showing abnormal behavior when they are in heat. This issue can only be stopped if the cat was neutered at a young age before the first heat cycle, or else there’s a chance that it will stay even after the surgery.
- Calmer cats. Spaying a cat will reduce spraying or inappropriate elimination, howling, and attracting unwanted male cats onto your property.
6. Less Expensive Than Raising a Litter
A lot of people do not spay and neuter their pets because they consider that the surgery is expensive. But in fact, raising 2 litters of cats every year is much more expensive.
Disadvantages of Spaying and Neutering a Cat
1. Reduced Metabolism
Some cats gain weight more rapidly after neutering or spaying because it reduces their metabolism. But it is important to understand that the surgery is not the main cause of that weight gain. Rather, it is the result of overfeeding and lack of exercise so it’s important to make sure the kitty is kept active and fed right.
You can switch to special dry food for sterilized cats and monitor the quantity they are eating.
2. Infection of the Surgical Site
An infection can occur in any surgery if the right protocol is not followed. It is important for both the vet and the owner to be careful.
What might cause an infection during a spaying/ neutering surgery?
- Licking the wound and removing their stitches. It can be prevented by keeping the E-collar on.
- Bathing your cat before making sure that the surgical sight is fully healed
- Dirty environment.
- A sterile protocol was not followed during the surgery
- Not giving antibiotics to your cat when needed.
3. Might be a Little Expensive but Worth It
The cost of spaying a cat ranges from 200$ to 400$, and the cost of neutering a cat is less than 100$.
Even though for some people, this amount of money is a bit too much, it is still better than taking care of new kittens every year and paying for their food and supplies, and vaccines.
When Is the Best Time To Spay and Neuter a Cat?
Many cat owners wonder when to spay a cat. There are many factors you should take into consideration that will help you decide.
When is the best time to neuter a male kitten?
The best time to neuter a dog is 5- 6 months old. And some vets even recommend doing it at a younger age.
Male cats neutered early in life have less of a risk of prostate infections.
What is the best age to spay a female kitten?
The best time to spay a female cat is also between 5 to 6 months old. Even some vets prefer starting from 4 months old.
Why is it better to do it this young? Because it
- Prevents unwanted pregnancy
- Prevents mammary cancer and pyometra
- Reduces the risk of prostate infections.
Do not be scared to spay and neuter your cat at a young age. Current scientific evidence shows no medical or behavioral reasons to delay the spaying/neutering of cats past five months of age. This will differ if you have a dog.
2. Health Status
As long as your cat is in good health, there are fewer chances of complications. Sometimes cats of certain breeds and ages need a specialist vet in anesthesia.
If your cat is going through some kind of sickness, it is important to let your vet know.
Can cats be spayed while in heat? Preferably no, but it isn’t that dangerous if it’s done. Veterinarians prefer not to do it because the uterus during the heat is very delicate.
How to Make Sure That the Surgery Will Go Well
Spaying and neutering will for sure keep your pet happy and healthy, but some things can go wrong, and you have to be ready to avoid them.
1. Choose a Trusted Vet
While choosing your vet, do not search only for cheap options. Make sure to ask for recommendations and reviews and check the clinic or hospital by yourself to make sure it is clean.
2. Make Sure your Cat Doesn’t Lick their Incision Site
Usually, veterinarians recommend putting an E collar on your female cat after the surgery, but male cats don’t need it. Do not remove the E Collar of your cat even if they seem uncomfortable in it, or else your cat will lick her wound and remove the sutures and cause an infection.
Common Myths About Spaying and Neutering Cats
1. Cats will become overweight
It is true that spaying decreases your cat’s metabolism, but just like any adult animal, it is necessary to not overfeed and to exercise them. Your cat will become overweight only when you feed them too much and not exercise them properly.
2. The spaying and neutering surgery is painful for cats
The spaying and neutering surgery is performed under general anesthesia by a professional veterinarian, so the animal is unconscious and doesn’t know what is happening, and does not feel a thing.
Pain medications can be given if the cat feels some discomfort after the surgery.
3. Spaying and neutering cause stunting in cats
Will spaying or neutering my pet early cause them not to grow to their normal size? Not really. Your pets will still grow normally and will have the normal size at their age.
Spaying or neutering your cat is a very recommended procedure with very few side effects that can be avoided. If you are a cat parent, spay your cat when they are between 5 to 6 months old.
If you don’t want to raise a litter of kittens every year, this is the best method you can apply.
- Early-age neutering of dogs and cats in the United States (a review)
- The Truth Behind Spaying and Neutering Myths
- Together, we can end overpopulation
Lamis has remarkable humility, empathy and generosity. Out of love for animals, she founded her own animal rescue team. As of now, this team rescued, treated and rehomed over 60 animals!
She has worked as an Intern in various veterinary clinics and animal hospitals. She has also had numerous voluntary experiences including blood donations and creating educational content for her countrymen.
Currently, she’s pursuing her Master’s Degree in Veterinary Medicine at Lebanese Public University.
She’s CPD certified in –
- Small Animal Nutrition
- Nutrition of Hospitalized Cats
- Dog Grooming
- Pet Psychology