We answer some of the most common questions about desexing your cat.
What is a spaying or neutering operation?
The desexing operation involves removing the reproductive organs of your cat to prevent them breeding in the future. In females, this involves removal of both ovaries and the uterine body (ovariohysterectomy). In males, both testicles are removed (orchidectomy). Because the testicles are located outside the body wall in dogs and cats, neutering or castration is less technically demanding and probably doesn’t hurt as much post-operatively as the spay procedure.
When should I desex my cat?
Desexing can be performed at any age, however younger animals are more susceptible to complications associated with anaesthesia and so most vet practices recommend desexing from around five to six months of age. At this age, healthy cats should tolerate the anaesthetic well but most will not yet have started their reproductive cycles. Shelters often desex pets much younger (from eight weeks of age), because they only rehome desexed animals.
Is the desexing procedure safe? Does it hurt?
Spaying and neutering are amongst the most common surgeries for pets, and the risk is minimal. Your cat may experience some post operative discomfort but anaesthesia is used during surgery and pain medication is also prescribed. In most instances, your cat will be back to their normal self with a day or two after the operation.
—> For more information on the procedure refer to our article on Desexing Your Cat.
What if my cat is in season or pregnant?
The desexing operation can be performed at these times, however the procedure does become more risky and many vets will charge more because of this. The uterus has a higher blood flow and is more fragile at these times, so there is a higher risk of complications during the procedure due to bleeding or tearing of tissues. So it is best to desex your cat at a young age unless you plan to breed.
Will spaying or neutering change my cat’s personality?
Spaying or neutering is unlikely to change your cat’s basic personality; although some pet owners have noticed their cats become more docile, affectionate and better companions. Sexual behaviour in male and female cats is reduced after they are desexed. In male cats, neutering eliminates roaming behaviour, urine spraying and territorial fights with other cats in the neighbourhood. Females will no longer come into ‘heat’ after being spayed so hormonal behaviour associated with attracting males will also disappear.
Will my cat become fat and lazy after being desexed?
Feline obesity is caused by lack of exercise and overfeeding, not by being spayed or neutered. As long as your cat continues to eat an appropriate diet and you make time for exercise and play (which is also a great way to bond with your pet) they will remain at a healthy weight.
Do neutered and spayed cats have a longer life expectancy?
Generally, yes – cats that have been desexed live longer and often have fewer health problems than those that haven’t. Spaying your female cat means they don’t have the stress associated with being in ‘heat’, it eliminates their risk of uterine cancer and reduces the risk of mammary cancer. In male cats, neutering prevents testicular cancer and reduces the risk of prostate cancer. Animals that have been desexed are also far less likely to contract contagious diseases that are spread through bodily fluids such as feline AIDS and feline leukaemia.
Why should I neuter my male cat, he’s not the one who will have a litter of kittens?
Male cats are responsible for fathering a litter of kittens, so as a pet owner you have a role to play in reducing pet overpopulation by neutering your male cat. And don’t forget the added benefits – neutering your male cat will reduce behavioural problems and minimise the risk of health problems later in life.
For more information refer to our Vet Talk article World Spay Day: Desexing Your Cat
Image: Alan Turkus via Flickr