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The Basics: Spay & Neuter Questions Answered

June 1, 2013

If you’ve adopted or are considering adopting a cat lately, odds are you’ve heard the words “spay” and “neuter.” While these two procedures are very common, you may have a number of questions you’d like answered.

Photo courtesy kevin dooley.

And that’s OK. It’s wise to want to make a well-informed decision. Unfortunately, there are many misconceptions that are associated with spaying or neutering your pet, so it’s important to know the truth.

Below you’ll find some of the most commonly asked questions about spaying and neutering. If you have additional questions, please share them in the comments, and I’ll get back to you!

What is a spay or neuter procedure?

Spays and neuters are surgical procedures performed by a veterinarian to sterilize a cat or dog – so they can no longer reproduce. The pet is put under anesthesia during the procedure, which then usually involves removing a female’s ovaries, fallopian tubes, and uterus, or a male’s testicles.

These are major surgical procedures, but they are also the most common surgeries performed by veterinarians. At most clinics, the cat can go home the same day as the surgery.

Tell me a bit more about the process. 

Before the procedure, the cat is given a physical exam to make sure he or she is healthy enough for the surgery.

Your vet will administer general anesthesia and pain medications to minimize discomfort.

After the surgery, you’ll be asked to keep your cat calm and quiet for a few days so the incision can begin to heal.

Visit your veterinary clinic to learn more about the entire process and their policies and procedures.

What happens if I don’t spay or neuter my cat?

Males and females who are intact are more likely to spray urine to mark territory and try to escape their homes to find a mate outside. When in heat, females often yowl to attract males.

When should I spay/neuter my cat?

Photo courtesy Tjflex2.

Many organizations support sterilizing your cat at an early age – about eight weeks. Speak with your vet, as he’ll be able to advise you on the right timing for your pet based on your cat’s breed, age, and physical condition.

One spay/neuter myth is that it’s best to wait until after your female cat has gone through her first heat cycle. This is not true.

Update: Some vets may be misinformed as to what age a cat can be spayed or neutered. The ASPCA recommends as young as two months, as a cat can go into heat as early as four months.

Why should I spay/neuter my cat?

Spaying or neutering your cat will make him or her happier and healthier. Plus, it means that you’ve done your part in making sure that the country’s cat overpopulation doesn’t get any worse.

Some health benefits include reducing your female’s odds of developing breast, ovarian, or uterine cancer.

Will spaying or neutering my cat change his/her personality?

After a cat is spayed or neutered, he/she is more likely to be calmer and less likely to engage in certain behaviors; HOWEVER, your pet’s personality will not change. Along those lines, some believe that a spayed or neutered cat will become fat and lazy. This is another myth, as most cats are commonly over fed and under-exercised.

Isn’t spaying/neutering my pet expensive?

Not necessarily. There are many clinics across the U.S. that offer low-cost spays and neuters. Click here to find a low-cost spay/neuter facility in your area.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. June 1, 2013 8:33 am

    Through an odd twist of events, I recently learned that once a cat goes into heat, they don’t come out of it until pregnant or spayed. I had no idea. Not spaying an indoor cat can prove fatal. I recently had Betty spayed after learning this. Much to my shock, the vet said she was less than two months from fatal complications. While it can be terrifying for those who love CH cats, with a good vet who understands CH and their special needs, including the right anesthesia, it’s imperative.

  2. June 1, 2013 8:44 am

    After we moved here, Jen was surprised to find that some vets are encouraging people to wait to spay females until close to 6 months? That is a BAD idea, especially since some cats can come into heat that young. Talking to the vet is good, but don’t trust your vet will always give you good advice.

    • June 1, 2013 8:49 am

      Oh wow! That’s pretty scary that they were giving out bad advice. Thanks for sharing!

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