As veterinarians, we are hyper-aware of the overpopulation issue in the cat species. If you’ve recently gotten a kitten or a cat that has yet to be spayed or neutered, it is important to understand that these procedures not only to help with overpopulation, but for other benefits that we’ll go into below. As these procedures are surgeries, we’re here to assuage your fears with everything you need to know. At Owings Mills Veterinary Center, we’ve answered FAQs on spaying and neutering thoroughly and accurately so you can get your cat spayed or neutered as part of an effective preventive care protocol.
If you’re looking for a highly trained veterinarian in Owings Mills, MD for a cat spay or neuter procedure, we’d love to help you. If your kitten or cat hasn’t yet been spayed or neutered, that’s the first order of business, so please call us right away at (410) 807-8193.
What is the difference between cat neutering and cat spaying?
We use the term cat spaying (with the technical term being “ovariohysterectomy”) for when we're removing the female reproductive organs (the ovaries) from a cat, and we use the term cat neutering for when we're castrating, or removing the male reproductive organs (the testicles). We perform both procedures to keep felines from being able to reproduce.
How does spaying or neutering impact the health and well-being of your cat?
The most significant benefit of cat spaying and neutering is it will prevent pregnancy and the subsequent contribution to overpopulation. But another thing that we worry about down the road is reproductive tract-related cancer in pets that have not been spayed or neutered.
Some of the cancers that can be prevented through cat spaying and neutering are:
- Mammary cancer
- Testicular cancer
- Ovarian cancer
In many cases, cat spaying and neutering will also decrease aggressive and/or marking behaviors, particularly in males.
When to neuter a cat/spay a cat?
This is a bit of a controversial topic, as there is some dissent among veterinarians about the ideal age to spay or neuter cats. When there is some disagreement on topics like this, it’s best to defer to the American Association of Feline Practitioners, or the AAFP, which says the ideal age is five months. They can handle anesthesia by this age and their bones have fused. Also, there is no medical reason to wait beyond six months.
What are the medical benefits of spaying or neutering your cat?
Female cats also reap several medical benefits when spayed, such as avoiding pyometra, a bacterial infection of the uterus. Having her ovaries removed during a spay also means she can’t get ovarian tumors. And by spaying her before six months of age, she will have much less of a chance of developing breast or mammary cancer.
By removing a male cat’s testicles, that cat cannot have testicular cancer, and he will be less likely to behave aggressively towards other cats. And in the case of both genders, spayed and neutered cats won't contract mating-related diseases.
Will cat spaying or neutering affect my cat's behavior?
Spaying or neutering cats can sometimes mellow them out and reduce aggressive tendencies if those exist. It will also reduce roaming in search of a partner, a behavior that puts your cat at risk for fights and getting hit by cars. Also, female cats in heat vocalize intensely, so spaying will eliminate that behavior.
For some reason, there has been a longstanding myth that spaying or neutering can make cats fat and lazy. The truth is that it does reduce roaming, but ultimately, your cat’s amount of exercise and their food intake is up to you. If you have any concerns about behavior changes in your cat post-neuter or spay, ask your veterinarian those questions before the procedure or call us at (410) 807-8193.
How should I care for my cat before and after spaying or neutering surgery?
The most significant consideration for spay and neuter preparation is ensuring your cat comes into the clinic with an empty stomach, because the anesthesia can sometimes make them nauseous. Before the surgery, we will do a physical exam on the cat and ensure blood work indicates they are healthy enough to tolerate the procedure.
As for post-surgery, we recommend keeping cats quiet and allowing them to have a dedicated area where they can be undisturbed by other pets or children in the home. You’re creating a safe haven so the cat can rest, recuperate, and recover smoothly. You also want to carefully follow the instructions from our veterinary team on post-operative care, including medications. Also, do not prematurely remove the Elizabethan collar (although we know it’s tempting!), as this collar prevents the cat from irritating or infecting the suture site before we remove the sutures in about 10 days.
If you still have questions about the cat spay or neuter procedures, please don’t hesitate to call us at (410) 807-8193.