Spaying And Neutering Cats – FULL GUIDE

One of the most common questions I hear from new cat (or dog) parents is:

Should I Spay/Neuter My Cat?

The short answer is yes. Your cat’s health and behavior will improve, and you’ll contribute to reducing the problem of cat overpopulation and homelessness crisis.

But there’s a lot more information to talk about in detail. In this article, you will get valuable information about spaying and neutering cats.

We will look at (feel free to jump around to the section with the question that most interests you)

  • What is Spaying/Neutering?
  • Why Should I Spay/Neuter My Cat? 
  • What Are The Benefits of Spaying/Neutering My Cat?
  • At What Age Should I Spay/Neuter My Cat?
  • Will My Cat Gain Weight After Surgery?
  • Will My Cat’s Behavior Change After The Surgery?
  • How Long Does The Surgery Take?
  • Will My Cat Feel Pain During The Surgery?
  • Pre And Post Surgery Care
  • What You Should (or Not) Do To Your Spayed/Neutered Cat

What is Spaying/Neutering?

Spaying and neutering are the medical terms that veterinarians use to describe the surgical removal of the ovaries and uterus of female cats or the testicles of male cats respectively. 

The main goal of this procedure is to reduce fertility and curb cat overpopulation and homelessness.

Though the surgical procedures are quite straightforward, animal laws allow only licensed veterinarians to perform them. 

Before the surgery, expect the veterinarian to examine your kitty physically, and perhaps carry out a full blood analysis. Your cat is then prepared for the surgery by shaving and cleaning the relevant area, and by putting your kitty to sleep with anesthesia.

Image of a Cat Veterinarian
Image by 272447 from Pixabay

Why Should I Spay or Neuter My Cat?

One of the major reasons for spaying or neutering your cat is to prevent births that you did not plan for, which helps reduce cat overpopulation. 

At any particular time, millions of cats end up on the streets every year. 

Only a precious few get adopted while the rest are either euthanized or die from a disease, trauma, starvation, or exposure to extreme temperatures. 

Several stray animals are shot, poisoned, mutilated, set on fire, tortured, or killed in other painful ways. 

What Are The Benefits of Spaying/Neutering My Cat?

Health Benefits

Generally, the major health benefit would be the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases like feline immunodeficiency virus. To be specific, your female cats won’t have any risk of developing uterine infections and breast tumors which are cancerous in about 90% of cats.

In male cats, you will eliminate the risk of having testicular and prostate-related health problems.

Behavioral Benefits

Female kitties often go into heat four to five days in three weeks during the breeding season and to call for mates, they yowl and urinate more frequently around the house. 

Male cats tend to pick fights with neighborhood rivals. 

Spaying or neutering is a healthy way to reduce or eliminate such sexual behaviors. 

Spaying or neutering your cat is also highly cost-effective. The cost of spaying or neutering your cat is far lower than the cost of having and caring for a kitten.

At What Age Should I Spay/Neuter My Cat?

You can take your cat to the veterinarian for spaying/neutering as young as eight weeks old. 

Performing the procedure this early drastically reduces the potential for complications. 

Experience and case studies have shown that cats that undergo the procedure between eight weeks and six months of age have a lower risk of physical or behavioral problems, as compared with those that go through the surgery later. 

Spaying or neutering your kitty early may prevent destructive behaviors before they occur. If it is not yet done, you should consider spaying or neutering any pet with a behavior problem, regardless of age. Consult with your veterinary behaviorist or veterinarian for further information.

In most animal shelters, the surgery is often performed at eight weeks so that kittens can be sterilized before adoption. To avoid urine spraying and eliminate the chance for pregnancy, it’s recommended that you schedule the surgery before your cat reaches five months of age. You can spay a female cat while she’s in heat.

Will My Cat Gain Weight After Surgery?

Both spayed females and neutered males have an increased likelihood to gain weight due to a decrease in roaming and other sexual behaviors. 

However, you can prevent weight gain through proper nutritional management and exercise (if interested, we have great guides on Cat Slow Feeders and Dry Food for Weight Loss). 

Cat playing with Trixie Activity Board

When you neuter your male cats before they hit puberty, they won’t develop the large head and thick skin that other males have. 

Will My Cat’s Behavior Change After The Procedure?

Aside from the behavioral changes previously mentioned, spaying or neutering your cat is not likely to change his or her basic personality, though male cats often become more easygoing following neutering.

In terms of playfulness and general levels of activity, vocalization, and excitement, cats do not typically change following spay/neuter surgery.

How long does the Spaying or Neutering surgery take?

Veterinarians often neuter male cats in less than two minutes. A female cat spay generally takes fifteen to twenty minutes, depending on her age and where she is in her heat cycle.

Female animals in heat will usually take a long time because their reproductive tracts are much more fragile, holding more blood.  

Will My Cat Feel Pain During The Surgery?

Animals, like humans, also feel pain and surgery can be traumatic if not done right. However, there are several modern ways to manage pain. 

Your kitty will be given general anesthesia before the surgery and then as needed after the procedure. So except for very rare exceptions, your cat won’t experience any suffering for this surgery.

Veterinarians are trained to keep pets as comfortable as possible.

Pre And Post Surgery Care

Aside from the specific pre-surgical advice that your veterinarian will give you, in general, you should avoid giving your cat any food after midnight the night before surgery day. If your furball is still a kitten, he needs adequate nutrition and your veterinarian may advise that food not be withheld.

Vet surgeons often prefer to use anesthetic medications that can be reversed to aid quick recovery. Typically, your cat will be awake enough to walk around within 10 to 20 minutes. If the surgery takes longer, wake-up time will also be longer because it will take more medication to keep your cat sleeping for a longer period.

Expect your Vet to also provide guidelines for post-operative care.

Your pet may also experience some discomfort after surgery, but your veterinarian can take various measures to control pain. You may have some medications sent home with your pet depending on the post-operative assessment.

Image of Cat resting after a surgery
Photo by Александар Цветановић from Pexels

What You Should (or Not) Do To Your Spayed/Neutered Cat

There are certain things you should do after you take your cat back home. It is normal for your kitty to still feel drowsy due to the anesthetics. Typically, your Vet must have applied some form of protective ointment on your cat’s eyes to ensure they don’t dry out. The ointment can make your kitty have blurry vision.

As a result, you need to place your cat in a dark, quiet, and warm indoor location for twenty-four hours following the surgery. It is crucial to keep away every distraction during this period, especially other pets, and even kids. Cats don’t like to feel threatened. Even the most gentle of cats can become temporarily aggressive, scratching anything in sight when he feels frightened.

I expect that the hangovers of anesthesia will disappear within 24 hours. After this time, your cat’s personality usually becomes normal. Your Vet will likely recommend that you stay with your cat on the first night to observe the level of activity and monitor your cat’s recovery carefully.

Tips for a safe and comfortable recovery

  • Don’t bathe your cat for at least ten days after surgery.
  • Provide a quiet place for your kitty to recover indoors and away from other animals.
  • Daily examine the incision site to confirm proper healing.
  • Using an Elizabethan collar, prevent your furball from licking the incision site as it may cause infection.
  • Keep your cat in a covered cat box to prevent running and jumping for as long as your veterinarian recommends.
  • If you notice any swelling, redness, or discharge at the surgery site, or the incision is open, please contact your veterinarian as soon as possible. 
  • If your kitty is showing signs of weakness, lack of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, or any other concerns following surgery, also call your veterinarian.

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