Spay in cats

Spay is a routine surgical procedure done in female cats to prevent pregnancy and has many other health benefits. This means your cat will be neutered and can’t have kittens.

Spaying is a surgery to remove a female cat’s ovaries and uterus. Surgery is usually recommended at 5 months of age. This procedure helps reduce the pet overpopulation crisis. Spaying can also be called neutering, ovariohysterectomy (OVH), or ovariectomy (OVE). After surgery, keep your cat indoors and do not let her lick the wound.

Spay in dogs
Female reproductive system


What it’s for

Why is this procedure recommended?

Your vet may recommend this surgery for your female cat to prevent or treat the following conditions:

  • Seasons or being in heat.
  • To reduce the chance of mammary cancer, especially when the surgery is performed before the first heat cycle
  • Womb infections (pyometra).
  • Uncontrollable false pregnancies (phantom pregnancy).
  • As an aid in diabetes treatment.
  • Unwanted pregnancies and risks of birth problems.

The number of kittens born every year is still far greater than the number of good homes that can be found for them. Spaying can help the overpopulation crisis.


How it’s done

How is the surgery done?

The surgery may be done in a traditional “open” manner or through minimally invasive means using laparoscopy. Both procedures are performed under general anaesthesia.

Open surgery

A surgical incision is usually made on the side (flank) but can also be done on the midline of the tummy.

Followed by the ovariohysterectomy, which consists of the removal of the uterus and ovaries. Or ovariectomy, where only the ovaries are removed.

The length of the incision depends on the type of procedure and any complications.

Laparoscopic Surgery

This is less commonly done in cats. 2-3 small (usually less than one inch long) incisions are made in the tummy for the insertion of a camera (laparoscope) and instruments.

Ovariectomy or ovariohysterectomy can then be performed.

What happens on the day of the spay?

Before the surgery day:

  • Your cat should have had a pre-neuter check with a vet or a nurse.
  • Your cat should be starved from the night before.
  • You can leave water available.

In practice:

  • A vet or a nurse will admit your cat.
  • Then the vet will do a hands-on examination.
  • When necessary, pre-anesthetic blood tests will be performed.
  • Then a sedative and pain relief will be given by injection.
  • While the pre-anaesthetic medication is working, your cat will be kept in a calm, warm kennel.
  • Once the sedative has taken effect, your cat will be put under a full/general anaesthetic.
  • In preparation for surgery, the skin will be cleaned and clipped, while your cat is closely monitored.
  • Surgery will begin.

Soon after surgery:

  • After your cat wakes up from the anaesthesia, she will be placed in a warm, comfortable kennel to recover.
  • Usually, your cat can go home a few hours after their operation, but if they take longer to recover from anaesthesia, they may need to be monitored for longer.
  • You will take home pain-relief and you may find your cat more quiet or disoriented that day.



Why do different places charge different prices for spay surgeries?

Cost depends:

  • On the type of surgical technique.
    • Laparoscopic surgery is more expensive than open surgery because of the equipment involved and the special training the practitioner needs.
  • Type of anaesthesia monitorization.
  • Geographic location of the vet practice.



What are the disadvantages of spaying your cat?

Potential disadvantages include:

  • The removal of reproductive hormones slows their metabolism making them prone to obesity. This can be prevented with adequate feeding and exercise. Speak to a vet nurse for further help.
  • Urinay incontinence, though this is rare in cats.

Spaying does not cause a change in personality, intelligence, playfulness, or affection.

Are there any dangers associated with surgery?

Spaying is considered a major operation and requires general anaesthesia.

Mild complications with the surgical wound can occur, such as:

  • Bruising
  • Swelling
  • Infection

Possible complications from the surgery itself can arise from:

  • Anaesthesia: risks are higher if your cat has any other medical issues
  • Bleeding (Hemorrhage)
  • Urinary obstruction

Modern anaesthetics and monitoring equipment significantly reduce the risk of complications.

When is the best time to have your cat spayed?

The general guidelines are for female cats to be neutered at 5 months of age.

Usually at 4 months, a developmental checkup or a pre-neuter check is recommended.

Spaying can be done at a later age if necessary.

Can a cat be spayed while in heat?

Ideally not.

Spaying a cat in heat increases the risk of haemorrhage because the blood vessels become much bigger.

Therefore, you should spay your cat after her season, unless there is a specific reason and your vet advises you to do it sooner.


Recovery tips

How to care for your spayed cat

The recovery period for a routine spay is generally 10 to 14 days. This period may be longer depending on your pet’s age and other health issues.

Aftercare includes:

  • Giving painkiller medications prescribed by your vet.
  • A buster collar (cone) or pet medical suit may be necessary to prevent licking of the surgical wound.
  • Strict rest, with no running, jumping, or rough play for 2 weeks following surgery. A spay procedure is major surgery, and the complications of internal bleeding due to excessive activity can be severe and even life-threatening.


When to worry

When to worry after a spay?

Seek vet care if your cat has:

  • Bleeding or other discharge from the incision(s)
  • Pale gums
  • Collapsed
  • Laboured breathing
  • Weakness (lethargy) that persists more than 24 hours after coming home
  • Vomiting, diarrhoea, or loss of appetite that persists more than 24 hours after coming home
  • Signs of being in pain

Joii can help if:

  • There is bruising around the incision(s)
  • Your cat has vaginal discharge
  • You cannot keep your cat calm
  • Your cat can lick or chew at the incision
  • You have difficulty administering prescribed medication
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