What is cat neutering?
Interesting first question that I wasn't prepared for because by definition, at least the way I was taught, neutering is to sexually alter your cat. So by definition you could say neuter and that could apply to a male or a female, that's my trivia for the day. Most people say spay and neuter for a male. Spay for female and neuter for male, because nobody wants to say castrate for a male. Anyway, that is what it is. If we're talking about neutering a cat, it is the physical removal of testicles from a cat, from a male cat.
What is spaying a cat?
Spaying a cat is a term that most veterinarians don't like. A better term is ovario hysterectomy, that's a lot which is why we say spay. Spaying is when you physically remove a la surgery the ovaries and the uterus of an intact female cat so they can no longer reproduce.
How does spaying or neutering impact the health or wellbeing of my cat?
In many ways. I'm smiling because it sometimes makes them more handleable for their veterinarians, so that's a selfish reason. It will also certainly decrease aggression, particularly in males. It will decrease that territorial nature which often leads to aggression. It will decrease their tendency to roam because they are looking to propagate their species and when they don't have the desire they don't roam.
How soon should I bring my cat to see a veterinarian to get them spayed or neutered?
Good question and a lot of debate on that one. Six to seven months is usually my quick answer on that one. Why? I don't want to neuter a cat necessarily, or spay for that matter, at three, four months old. Can it physically be done? Yes. It's more of an anesthetic risk if you do it then. I like to do it a little bit later. I do like to catch them before they come into their first heat cycle in females and a male is not normally sexually mature until closer to eight, maybe even nine, months. But again, my answer is six to seven months.
If you do it then you're catching them before you get to those annoying stages where they can come into heat, change behavior, get pregnant, all those other things, but they're also old enough to where you're not dealing with a very small pediatric patient as well.
What are the medical benefits of spaying and neutering cats?
I kind of briefly touched on some. I guess maybe more what I was talking about was behavioral, so the medical side, really the first thing that comes to mind would be cancer and cancer prevention. Females, you can't get uterine, ovarian cancer if you don't have a uterus or ovaries. You can't get a uterine infection, or pyometra, if you don't have a uterus. Yeah, same thing on a male. Kind of hard to get testicular cancer if you don't have them anymore. So those are the obvious answers.
One other thing that we will sometimes see in females, it's been proven in a bunch of different studies that the more heat cycles, or [estracycles], that a female animal goes through the more likely those guys are to develop mammary cancer later in life. It varies on what studies you look at and I think most of the studies we've done on dogs so I won't go there, but there is enough evidence to support that the earlier you spay them the less likely they are to develop mammary cancer later in life, and that's another big one of course.
How should I care for my cat before and after spaying or neutering surgery?
If we're talking long term before, like the months before the surgery can be done, it's just taking caution to make sure that they do not roam, that they are enclosed and unable to roam. Because when I say roam what happens? They cross the street, we all know what can happen there. So I mean there's just so much room for accidents to happen if they're allowed to be outside and to do that. If they're indoor animals then there's not much you have to do before, you just keep loving on your cat, providing food, water and shelter and they should be just fine.
After the spay and neuter your veterinarian will give you specifics, but on average they're going to be laying low for the better part of a week afterwards, certainly no bathing, minimal exercise. If you have to do you can kennel them or confine them to a certain area, but you just want to prevent trauma to that surgical site, in particular a female, but also male there will be certain precautions that will have to be taken to avoid any damage to the surgery site.
FAQ - Why is Getting My Cat Spayed/Neutered So Important
Why spaying or neutering a cat so important?
There are several points to be made about that. So spaying or neutering a cat, the first and obvious thing is population control. I don't think that's in the veterinary oath, but I do take that part of my job quite seriously, because we do have such an overpopulation problem, especially here in Southern Louisiana, but really nationwide it seems to be. So I feel like it's our duty to prevent that when we can. Number two is for multiple health reasons—cancer, uterine infections, aggression, all these things that can be brought on by hormonal influences that we can control or even remove by doing these procedures at an early age.
Shouldn't I let my cat have a litter before I spay her?
No. I hear that a lot, that, "Oh, I've heard my grandma told me they're supposed to have one heat cycle before, or even a litter before." No, there's no medical proof to back that up. In fact, if anything, I would argue the opposite. I would argue that there is medical proof to back up the fact that certain animals, females in particular, can develop mammary cancer. Let me say that in a different way, cats can develop mammary cancer more frequently if they've had multiple heat cycles. So spaying them at an earlier age makes that percentage lower.
My cat sprays all over the house. Will neutering help?
Yes. Yes, it will. Neutering will definitely help with that, because when we neuter, we are removing the testicles, we're removing the source of testosterone. Why do they spray? Because they're telling you that that's their spot, so if you can neuter them at a relatively early age, hopefully before it becomes a learned behavior, then yeah, it can absolutely avoid that.
There is pain involved in the procedure, of course. Yes. A female, for example, we are opening up their abdomen and we are physically removing their ovaries and uterus. So yes, of course there is some pain. The good news is, nowadays, the anesthetic protocols that we use, the pain control that we have afterwards, the pain is almost negligible. Most of the time now with the regimen of pain control that we use, if the animal is painful after surgery, we didn't do our job right, let's put it that way. So there are so many good drugs out there that make them pain-free and allow for quick, healthy recoveries. Yeah, it's virtually a nonissue now.
Will spaying or neutering make my cat less vocal?
That is a good question, and I'm going to be honest with you. I'm going to say no on this one. Yeah, I'm going to say no. It'll make them less vocal at two in the morning right outside of your bedroom window, maybe. I won't go any further. Think about it, you can fill in the blanks. But yeah, just... Some cats are vocal, man. Some cats when they're hungry, meow, meow, meow. When they want your attention, meow, meow, meow. Yeah. So no, I think the answer to that question, to put it concisely is no.
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