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The Mechanics of Spaying and Neutering

Last week, we discussed the signs of sexual maturity in your kitten. This week, we'll talk to you about what exactly is involved in spaying or neutering. The descriptions won't be illustrated, so if the sight of blood makes you queasy, don't be afraid to read on!

Neutering

  • Neutering, referred to by veterinarians as orchidectomy, is the removal of a male cat's testicles.

  • The testicles are where sperm cells and sex hormones are produced, so by removing them your vet will reduce or eliminate your kitten's instinct to roam, spray, and fight. Neutering is best done by the age of 7 months.

  • Neutering is done under general anesthesia, so you will need to make sure your kitten doesn't eat or drink anything for 12 hours prior to the operation.

  • Although your cat's scrotum will be shaved for the surgery, you probably won't even notice the incision because it will be so small. The operation is not difficult or invasive, and often your kitten can go home the same day.

  • Be prepared for your kitten to be a bit groggy from the anesthesia and any pain medication he received. (Here is a video of a neuter procedure.)

Spaying

  • Spaying, known as ovariohysterectomy, is the removal of a female cat's uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries.

  • You will be told to fast your kitten for 12 hours prior to the operation and bring her to the vet's office first thing in the morning.

  • Spaying is done under general anesthesia and is a bit more complicated than neutering because your vet will have to make an incision in your kitten's abdomen. Your cat will have her abdomen shaved, and the vet will make a 1-inch (2.5cm) incision just below her belly button in order to reach the sexual organs and remove them.

  • Most vets keep spay patients overnight for monitoring and pain management, and when you pick her up the next day your vet will give you instructions on how to take care of her and things to watch out for. She may have a cone collar in order to keep her from licking at, and possibly re-opening, the incision. (Here is a video of a spay procedure.)

Both of these procedures are very common. Vets do hundreds, if not thousands, of spays and neuters each year. The risk of complications from spaying and neutering is extremely low, and the benefits to your kitten's long-term health are many. Female cats that get spayed are 90 percent less likely to develop mammary cancer and will never develop uterine or ovarian cancer. Vets recommend that female cats be spayed before their first heat because the risk of bleeding is decreased.

The cost of spaying and neutering varies depending on where you live, whether your cat is in heat or pregnant at the time of the surgery, and what kind of after-care your vet clinic offers. If your cat has a heart murmur or other chronic illness, spaying or neutering might be a bit more risky, but your vet can help you to understand those risks and suggest precautions that can eliminate potential problems.

If you adopted your kitten from an animal shelter, she may already have been “fixed”when you brought her home. Many shelters do early spaying and neutering (sometimes on kittens as young as 7 weeks) in order to prevent pet overpopulation, and the cost is included in the adoption fee.

Advice from Other Cat Owners 

When to Vaccinate Your Kitten

Kittens need their combo vaccine (FVRCPC) starting at 6 or 8 weeks and it is a series of 3 shots, with 2 or 4 week intervals in between. This is essential for building a healthy immune system, so no you cannot delay them or what would be the point of vaccinating?

Rabies would not be necessary for an indoor only cat, nor feline leukemia. I do not vaccinate for these if indoor-only because of the unnecessary risk of side effects. But this does mean your cat must remain indoor only. Definitely do de-worming and stool tests for parasites.

Vaccines are -not- expensive. If you have to ask about cost concerns on here, then definitely do not get two cats. If you have to ask about whether or not you can delay vaccinations or not give them at all, please consider not getting a cat. A FVRCPC shot or a vet visit cost about the same amount as a high quality bag of cat food, so if you can't afford that, please don't get a cat and then give it mediocre care.

~Chrysee H., owner of Ragdoll

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