When to Spay or Neuter Cats

Visit any animal shelter and you'll immediately see that feline overpopulation is a real problem. Every year countless cats go unadopted, get euthanized, or live out a short life alone on the streets. The good news is it's incredibly easy for cat owners to help. By spaying or neutering your cat you prevent unplanned pregnancies – whether your cat would be the one getting pregnant or the one getting other cats pregnant – and help keep the cat population under control. There are also many health benefits for cats that have been spayed or neutered – like removing the risk of testicular or ovarian cancer. Spayed male cats are also less territorial and less likely to get into fights that could cause injuries. Read on to know when to spay or neuter, what the surgery involves, and how to ensure your cat has a speedy recovery.


When to Perform the Surgery

Most vets consider it safe to spay or neuter kittens that are eight weeks or older. They also recommend spaying or neutering before the cat is six months old. Many female cats can go into heat – and keep you up at night with their meowing and yowling – when they're just four months old. To curb unplanned pregnancies (and make sure you get enough sleep at night) it's best to perform spay or neuter procedures before this time. Female cats can be spayed while they're in heat but it's not always recommended by vets – check with yours for a professional opinion. Spaying and neutering early is also easier on cat's health. Vets report younger cats recover from the procedures more quickly and experience less discomfort.

What the Surgery Involves

Spaying and neutering procedures are very common and relatively simple surgeries performed by veterinarians. So what happens exactly? First, your cat will be given general anesthesia. If the cat is female, the vet will make an incision in the abdomen, remove the ovaries and uterus, and close the incision with sutures or surgical glue. If the cat is male, the vet will make an incision in the scrotum, remove the testes, and allow the incision to heal naturally (i.e., without sutures in most cases). Most vets recommend you do not feed your cat after midnight the night before a surgery unless the cat is a very young kitten. As always, check with your vet.

What to Do Post-Surgery

After the procedure, let your groggy kitty rest in a safe, quiet place indoors. Don't get out the cat toys too soon – your newly spayed or neutered cat should avoid strenuous physical activity until they fully heal, which should take one to two weeks. Keep an eye on the incision site to make sure it's healing properly. If you see swelling, bleeding, or discharge you should contact your vet immediately. Finally, pat yourself on the back for being a responsible cat owner. Cats everywhere thank you.

By Jed M.