1. What is spaying and neutering and how are they different?
Spaying and neutering are the names given to the different procedures done to sterilize male and female cats. Neutering is done to male cats and is a non-invasive surgical procedure by which the testicles are removed. Spaying is done to female cats and is an invasive but safe procedure by which the ovaries and uterus are removed.
2. Why spay and neuter?
The better question is: Why not? There is no reason not to spay or neuter. Animal over population is a serious problem in the United States and countries all around the world. In addition, there are a number of benefits for both you and your cat's health.
3. What are some of the benefits to spaying or neutering my cat?
In males, neutering your cat can decrease aggression, make them less likely to 'spray' or mark, make them less likely to roam, helps to protect them from diseases such as FeLV (feline Leukemia) and FIV (feline HIV), and removes the risk of testicular cancer. In females, it decreases the risk of mammary cancer by 97% if performed early, removes the yowling and spraying during heat, and removes the risk of ovarian and uterine cancer. It also eliminates the risk of pyometritis, a bacterial infection that occurs after conception and can be fatal.
4. When should I spay or neuter my cat?
In general, it is safe to spay or neuter your pet once they have reached a weight of two pounds and have a clean health certificate. In males, it is best to wait till both testicles have dropped.
5. But won't spaying or neutering early harm the development of my cat?
Early spay and neuter programs are beginning to grow in popularity as a number of the myths many of us grew up with are disproved. It used to be believed that it was better for a cat to endure one heat or bear a litter of kittens. This has been proven completely untrue. By waiting the six to eight months for these things to occur you are playing a dangerous game or contributing to the pet over population problem. There are no differences in the metabolism of younger cats over older cats, and there is no evidence of increased urinary tract issues in either gender as a result of early spay and neuter. In fact, kittens that are spayed or neutered early tend to recover faster and get back to normal more quickly than their older counterparts.
6. I rescued my cat from an animal shelter and was told it was already spayed or neutered. How can I tell?
Most animal shelters now have these procedures performed when cats come in, so they are likely telling you the truth. If you are unsure, however, your vet will be able to tell you if a cat has been neutered by checking for testicles. Females are significantly more difficult to check on thanks to the use of absorbable sutures, but if there is a scar on the abdomen a Vet will see it.
7. How much does it cost?
The average cost of neutering a cat is between $50 - $100. Spaying is $100-$200. If your female cat is over-weight, in heat or pregnant this cost increases. Being a responsible pet owner means being aware of these costs and being prepared for them. There are a number of groups that offer low-cost or free options and your Vet may be willing to work with you so that you can get these important procedures for your cat.
8. Why does my vet want to run Pre-screening blood work? Is this necessary?
A pre-screening blood test is run in-house and is your Vet's way of checking liver and kidney functions prior to anesthetic. While it is not necessary, it is important as it lets the doctor know if there are any possible complications. These two organs will be primarily responsible for clearing the anesthetic out of your cat's body, so it is important that they are functioning well.
9. So what happens when my cat is neutered?
Neutering is the surgical procedure by which a male animal is rendered sterile. It is also called castration and is the removal of the testicles from the animal. It is not a major surgery though it does require general or full body anesthetic.
To begin the surgery, your cat will be anesthetized; they will be fully unconscious and feel no pain during the procedure. Their heart rate and breathing will be monitored by hospital staff. There are a number of different ways to neuter, however the most common is an incision through the scrotum of the feline. The testicles are both removed and the blood supply and vas deferens ligated, or tied off. The two incisions require no stitches as they are generally small and barely noticeable after surgery. Some pets may be cryptorchid, meaning one testicle does not descend. Pets in this condition may require a more invasive procedure.
Cats, kittens especially, bounce back from the surgery very quickly and even older pets are generally back to normal by the next day. It is important that you keep your kitten from licking the surgical site, however.
10. So what happens when my cat is spayed?
A spayed female is a cat that has had both its ovaries and uterus surgically removed. It is a major surgery as the Vet must enter the abdomen, however it is perfectly safe and a routinely performed operation. Owners are encouraged to ask their Vet questions if they have concerns.
There are two myths concerning spaying that must be noted: That they should have one heat cycle or a litter prior to being spayed. These are entirely untrue. In fact, having your cat spayed prior to its first heat or litter will reduce the chances of mammary cancer by 97%.
During the surgery, your pet will be anesthetized so they will be fully unconcious and unable to feel pain. Their breathing and heart rate will be monitered by hospital staff. The surgeon will make a small incision in the abdomen and remove the two ovaries and uterus. All vessles and tissue will be ligated or tied off to prevent chances of post surgery complications such as infection. Once the ovaries and uterus are removed, the surgeon will suture or stitch the abdomen back together. The final sutures or stitches showing on the outside may be absorbable, stables or some other material that will need to be removed 10-14 days after surgery.
Kittens recover very quickly, but it is important to keep them from being too active as this can delay full healing.
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