Desexing or spaying your female cat

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Spaying Your Cat

Spaying, or ovariohysterectomy, is the most common surgery performed by veterinarians.  It is a major abdominal surgery, and the cat’s ovaries and uterus are removed.

Why Spay?
Here are several good reasons to spay your cat:

  • She won’t go into heat after being spayed.  Cats in heat are extremely annoying and noisy.
  • She won’t get pregnant.  Your cat avoids the risks of pregnancy, and you don’t have to deal with a litter of kittens.
  • Cats who are spayed before their first heat have a significantly reduced risk of getting breast cancer later in life.
  • She won’t suffer from reproductive infections and disorders later in life.
  • It controls the population of unwanted cats, who are often euthanized.

When to Spay
There are varying opinions about when to spay your cat.  We recommend spaying at five months of age. Some cats, however, go into heat before they are five months old, especially during later winter and early spring.

Cats who are in heat can be spayed, but there is an increased risk because the blood supply to the uterus is increased.  The surgery requires a bit more care.  If your cat goes into heat before she is spayed, discuss it with your vet.

If your cat is an adult, the best time to spay is now.  The sooner cats are spayed, the fewer health problems they will have later.

The “One Litter” Myth
Some cat owners mistakenly believe that a cat should have one litter before she is spayed.  This is just a myth.  There are no advantages to allowing your cat to have a litter before spaying her.  In fact, there are decided disadvantages:

  • Cats who are spayed before their first heat get the most risk reduction for breast cancer.
  • Pregnancy and childbirth carry health risks for your cat.
  • If she has a litter, you have to suffer through her being in heat first.
  • It is expensive to raise a litter of kittens, and it is not always easy to place the kittens in good homes.

Preparing for Surgery
Spaying is major surgery, and your cat will have a general anaesthetic.  To prevent vomiting or choking during surgery, her stomach should be empty.  Remove her food and water the night before her surgery, and keep her indoors so she can’t hunt.

If your cat has not had her vaccinations or been microchipped, it is convenient to do it at the same time she is spayed.

Caring for Your Cat After Surgery
Your cat will probably be sleepy when you take her home.  She will have received pain medicine to keep her comfortable, and that makes her sleepy.  Here are specific instructions for taking care of your cat after surgery:

  • Keep her inside in a warm, quiet environment for the first night.  She will need to use a litter box.
  • She can have food and water the evening after surgery, but she may not be interested in it.
  • If she is not fully awake and eating normally by the day after surgery, please notify your vet.
  • Every cat recovers differently.  Let her decide how much activity she wants to do over the next few days.
  • Treat her with extra gentleness until she has healed.  Limit contact with other pets and young children.
  • Your cat has intra-dermal sutures, which are placed under the skin.  The sutures do not need to be removed, and your cat cannot chew them out.
  • Check her surgery site every day for the next few days.  If you notice redness or excessive swelling around the wound, drainage from the wound or opening of the wound take her to the veterinary clinic.
  • Call your vet if you have any questions or concerns.

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