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Spayed or Neutered?: Guide to Getting Your Cat Fixed

When you have your cat fixed, you can help protect them against various diseases and health conditions as well as prevent unwanted litters of kittens. Our Westfield vets talk about the benefits of getting a cat fixed and what to expect when they are spayed or neutered.

Getting a Cat Fixed

Each year, shelters across the United States are flooded with unwanted cats and kittens. One of the easiest ways to prevent this from happening is to have your feline companions spayed or neutered.

However, the benefits of spaying or neutering your pet don't stop at population control. Along with reducing the unwanted kitten population, a spayed or neutered cat also has a reduced risk of certain medical conditions.

When should a cat be spayed or neutered?

You can bring your kitten in to be spayed when they are only 8 weeks old. However, standard spay and neuter procedures are often performed when a kitten is between five and six months old.

That said, it's important to note that these procedures can be performed at any time during your cat's life provided your pet is healthy. Your vet will be able to help you find a preventive care schedule that best suits your cat.

The Different Between Spayed & Neutered Cats

The main difference between spayed and neutered cats is that spaying is for females and neutering is for males.

Having Female Cats Spayed

A spayed cat's ovaries and uterus, or sometimes just the ovaries, of the female cat are removed surgically. 

Your cat will not be able to have kittens after she has been spayed. 

Having Male Cats Neutered

Neutering (sometimes called castration) refers to the removal of a male cat's testes. Your neutered male cat will not be able to father kittens. 

What is the procedure for getting a cat fixed?

The main steps to a spay or neuter procedure are:

  1. Your vet will conduct the appropriate diagnostic tests before surgery to ensure your pet is healthy enough to safely undergo the operation. Spay and neuter procedures are done using general anesthesia and typically take between 20 and 90 minutes to complete, depending on your pet's size and any specific medical considerations.
  2. Following anesthesia, the hair on your pet's abdomen will be shaved down and the skin thoroughly disinfected. The organs are then removed, either laparoscopically (with surgical lasers) or with a traditional scalpel. Either of these options is safe for your cat.
  3. After the procedure is complete, the vet will use skin glue, sutures (stitches), or surgical staples to close your pet's skin. Staples or stitches will need to be removed by your veterinarian 10 to 14 days after the procedure. 
  4. While the actual procedure is relatively quick, you can generally expect your pet to spend a few hours at the hospital, allowing time for check-in, initial physical assessment, the surgery itself, and time for recovery from anesthesia. 

What can you expect during your cat's recovery after being spayed or neutered?

Your cat will be fully recovered after 10 to 14 days, although they may begin to feel better after only a day or two. Keep your pet calm and refrain from allowing them to jump during this period, as this can cause their incision to reopen. Check the incision daily for signs of infection, which can include swelling, discharge, redness, or foul odor. Contact your vet if you notice any of these. 

Also, monitor your pet's behavior. If they still seem lethargic or are not eating or drinking after 48 hours, this could indicate infection. Bring them to an emergency veterinarian for care or follow up with your primary vet. 

Benefits of Spayed Female Cats

Population Control 

Before she is even six months old, your tiny little kitten may be mature enough to have kittens of her own. By spaying your female cat before she reaches this age of maturity, you can help reduce the population of unwanted cats in your neighborhood. 

In addition, female cats can birth as many as four litters a year. When we consider that the average litter can range in size from two kittens (from a young mother) to as many as 10 kittens, that's a staggering number of potentially unwanted cats. 

Animal Health

Spaying your kitten before she has her first heat can help to reduce her risk of pyometra (infection of the womb) as well as mammary tumors. It's also important to note that female cats carrying infectious diseases can pass serious conditions on to their kittens who go on to spread the disease even further. Pregnancy and the birth process can be risky for young cats, and costly to their owners. 

Save Wildlife

It is estimated that cats in the USA kill between 1.4 billion and 3.7 billion birds each year. Keeping the number of homeless cats to a minimum can help save the lives of countless birds and other wildlife.

Deter Nuisance Behaviors

Female cats who are not spayed will go into heat frequently throughout the year, attracting male cats from across the neighborhood to your home and garden. Unneutered male cats prowling around your property, looking for your female, can be problematic since these males tend to spray, fight, and caterwaul. Spaying your female cat can help to keep male cats out of your backyard.

Benefits of Neutered Male Cats

Population Control 

While male cats don't have kittens themselves, one unneutered male cat in your neighborhood can make many female cats pregnant. That's why neutering male cats is as important as spaying females when it comes to population control!

Health Issues

Neutering your male cat may help slow the spread of serious cat diseases such as Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) and Feline leukemia virus (FeLV) that are often spread between cats during fights. Neutering can help to reduce cat aggression and may mean fewer injuries from fighting. Neutered males also tend to stay closer to home which helps to reduce their risk of being injured by vehicles. 

Deter Undesirable Behaviors

Unneutered male cats typically spray inside the home more than neutered males and may be aggressive towards their owners. Having your male kitten neutered while young can help to prevent these behaviors from starting. Also, male cats who are not neutered, frequently roam over large areas in search of unspayed females to mate with. These males will spray to mark their territory and often fight with other male cats which can be bothersome, noisy, and smelly. 

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Having cats spayed or neutered is an important part of their preventive healthcare. Contact our Westfield vets to learn how you can protect your pet. 

Now Welcoming New Patients

Looking for a vet in Westfield? Our vets at Westfield Animal Hospital are now accepting new patients! Our friendly and welcoming vets love providing cats, dogs, and exotic pets with high-quality veterinary care. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

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