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Spaying your cat is an important part of basic cat health care. Spaying at a young age prevents mammary cancer and spaying at any age prevents unwanted kittens, noisy heat cycles, and possibly even urine marking in the house. We have found that even though the cat spay is a routine and a commonly performed procedure, many pet owners still have questions. Hopefully, this FAQ will be helpful.
Spaying is an ovariohysterectomy, which means that both the ovaries and the uterus are removed. The cervix is tied off, leaving the vagina to end in a blind sac. Since it is the ovaries that are responsible for the heat cycles, possible mammary tumor development, and behavior problems, it is crucial that the ovaries be removed intact; some veterinarians will leave the uterus behind, though, it is generally regarded as best to remove the entire tract, uterus included.
The spay incision is closed in several layers (the abdominal muscles, the tissue under the skin, and the skin itself may all be closed separately). Skin stitches necessitate a return visit for a recheck, which is always a good idea after an abdominal surgery.
Keeping your pet calm and quiet once you bring her home after the surgery is important and critical for proper healing. Some cats will not eat for the first day or so but if she does not seem back to normal by the day following discharge, we would like to know about it.
Food and water are generally withheld until the next day or late that night and she should be kept quiet and not allowed outside.
Some female cats are disruptively annoying when they are in heat, yowling and carrying on, and they are spayed to end the heat quickly. Other cats are spayed in heat randomly when the owner does not realize that the cat is in heat. Either way the spay is slightly more difficult due to the engorgement of the tissues and larger blood vessels. Spaying in heat does not carry a significant risk to the cat but, since extra surgery time is frequently required, an extra charge may be incurred.
Spaying can be performed at any time during the course of pregnancy. Often, the owner is unaware that the cat is pregnant. If there is any question, make it clear to your veterinarian what your wishes are should your cat be found pregnant. The incision can be closed and the pregnancy can proceed or the spay can proceed and the developing kittens will be removed along with the rest of the uterus. Due to extra work and surgery time, most veterinarians will charge an extra fee for spaying a pregnant animal.
The female cat spends at least half the year with her reproductive tract dormant (cats only cycle seasonally, primarily in the spring and summer). This means that, behaviorally speaking, she acts spayed most of the time and no personality change should be noted. This said, it is important to realize that a cycling cat can be extremely solicitous of affection. This kind of playful, flirtatious behavior will stop with spaying.
The mammary (breast) development that comes with nursing can make the spay surgery more difficult. Ideally, a month after weaning allows for regression of this tissue and spaying can proceed. Unfortunately, it is possible for a female cat to become pregnant during this waiting period if her owner is not careful.
The traditional age for spaying is six months; however, this practice has enabled kittens to be adopted from the shelters unspayed. Often the new owner fails to return for spaying and the result is further contribution to the pet over-population problem. The last 20 years has brought us a great deal of research into “early” spaying and we now know that there is no problem with spaying as early as 8 weeks of age. Our hospital finds such tiny tissues difficult to manipulate and we like to spay our female patients when they weigh at least 3 to 4 pounds
Estrogens have a natural appetite suppressing effect and the loss of estrogens may lead to an increased appetite. Further, sterilization surgery has been shown to slow a cat's metabolism. Depending on the cat's age and activity level at the time of surgery, a diet change to a "lite" diet may be in order. Ask your vet if you are not sure.
Information courtesy of Veterinary Partner
Dr. Newman & Staff:
Thank you very, very much for the excellent work you did on our Cody. He came through his surgery with flying colors. A little groggy on Monday night but he sure made up for it since. You have the most wonderful & dedicated employees we have ever met. You & your staff make it a pleasure for us to do business with you always!
Sincerely, Greg & Maria C. and Cody & Sally / Northridge, CA
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