As a cat owner, you may wonder whether it is necessary to spay or neuter your beloved pet cat. While spaying and neutering cats is not new to seasoned cat owners, new cat owners will shudder at the thought of letting their pets go through this surgical procedure.
While this intention is good, you as a cat owner need to be aware of the real reason behind spaying and neutering your cat. Do you know that American taxpayers and private humanitarian agencies are spending over a billion dollars each year to resolve the overpopulation issue of pets. This guide aims to educate you on what spaying and neutering is all about and debunk some myths regarding spay and neuter of cats.
What Is Spaying And Neutering
Spaying and neutering is a common, routine medical procedure to remove the reproductive organs of pets such as cats and dogs. Spaying is the term that is being used for the females while neutering applies to the males. However, in actual fact, neutering can be used for both females and males.
Nowadays, de-sexing is commonly being used to replace these two words. “Fixed” or “altered” is also used to describe cats have been spayed or neutered. It is the most common sterilizing method used to control the population of cats in the United States.
Spaying is the term used for female cats and kittens when they undergo the removal of the female reproductive organs. The most common surgical procedure is known as ovariohysterectomy which involves the removal of both the ovaries and the uterus. Another procedure is known as ovariectomy which is the removal of the ovaries only.
Neutering can be applied to both sexes, although it is more commonly used for males. The correct term to use is actually castrating. Castration involves the removal of the testes. This procedure is known as orchiectomy.
Note: There are other forms non surgical sterilization products/methods available on the market. However, not enough information and research are available to prove the effectiveness and safety of these products. As such, these products will not be discussed until the time is ripe.
Why Is Spaying And Neutering Important
Spay and neuter help to keep the population of cats down to manageable levels. Both public and private animal shelters are faced with difficulties in finding homes for all the cats and kittens they rescued. As a result, millions of cats are being euthanized each year as not enough cats and kittens are being adopted to ease the burdens of the animal shelters.
In short, by spaying and neutering your cat, you help to reduce the of homeless pets being euthanized. It also helps to improve your cat’s behavior and health for the better.
Benefits Of Spaying And Neutering
Cats that undergo spaying and neutering are proven to have made improvements in their behaviors. Certain undesirable traits are known to disappear or have reduced in severity. Below is a list of behaviors in cats are known to have improved after undergoing spaying or neutering.
- Easier to train
- Females won’t go into heat
- Reduce aggression issues
- Reduce fights with other males
- Reduce howling
- Reduce urge to mate for males
- Reduce urge to roam
- Reduce urge to spray/marking issues
While spaying and neutering do reduce undesirable behavior issues in cats, it will not change their basic personalities, such as their instinct to hunt or being protective. Some cats will still bite as this is more of a protective behavior.
There are certain health benefits associated with spaying and neutering. Cats that have undergo this procedure will enjoy certain health benefits such as the following.
Certain health problems such as uterine infections in females and benign prostatic hyperplasia (enlarge prostate gland) in males are eliminated as a result of undergoing spaying and neutering. As a result, your pet will be free from such health issues that affect intact cats.
As certain behavior issues such as aggression and the urge to roam is being reduced or eliminated leading to less fights and injuries, it will lead to a longer life span for your cat. It has proven that states with the highest number of cats that are neutered or spayed also have the longest life spans for cats. Likewise, those with lower numbers tend to have lower life spans.
Reduce risks of certain types of cancers
For female cats, their risks of getting breast, ovarian and uterine cancer are greatly reduced. While for the male cats, the risk of getting testicular cancer is lowered.
Save money on cat care
Besides the obvious behavioral and health benefits, you will also get to save potential costs of caring for your cat on a long term basis. Costs for caring for cats down with cancers can be extremely costly, much more than the initial cost of spaying and neutering your cat.
Besides that, reduced aggression in your cat will reduce alteration with other cats resulting in injuries which may require the services of a vet. The costs of injuries can add up very quickly if you have a very aggressive cat.
Also, in many counties, there are laws in place that require all pets to be sterilized. Otherwise, the cost for renewal of your cat’s pet license will be much higher. With all these benefits in mind, don’t you think it is a good idea to get your pet spay or neuter as soon as possible.
Issues Related To Spaying And Neutering
As with all things, there are pros and cons to everything even though I will still recommend you to have your cat spay or neuter. The following issues are known to affect cats that have gone through the spay and neuter procedures.
- Some cats with existing health conditions are at risk from anesthetic and surgical complications such bleeding, infection and death during and after the surgical procedure. The risk is around 0.11%. For cats that are sick, the risks are higher at 1.40%.
- Neutered male cats are at increased risk of certain medical problems related to feline lower urinary tract disease as compared to intact male cats. Such problems may include the presence of a plug or stones in the urethra and blockage of the urethra.
How Much Does It Cost To Spay Or Neuter A Cat
Many cat owners are daunted by the costs involved for spaying and neutering their pets. However, there are spaying and neutering clinics that provide affordable spaying and neutering for cats. Normally, the cost of spaying and neutering a cat will be around $200 to $300. These clinics will charge lesser than that. You have to check with pet owners around your area for clinics that offer such low cost spaying and neutering services.
Another option is to call up local animal shelters near your area. Most shelters provide low cost spaying and neutering for pets. The prices are low as the shelters want to get all pet owners to be more aware and responsible towards the issue of cat overpopulation.
ASPCA has a comprehensive and searchable database of low cost spay and neuter providers, click this link to find a list of low cost spay and neuter providers near you.
When Can You Spay Or Neuter Your Cat?
Kittens as young as eight weeks old or two pounds in weight can go for a spay or neuter procedure. There are kittens that undergo this procedure from as young as five weeks old, though it is ok as long as your vet gives the go ahead. It is advisable to do it before your cat reaches five months of age when cats start reaching maturity and able to get pregnant or start spraying.
Caring For Your Cat Before And After Surgery
There are certain things you need to take note of both pre and post surgery for the benefit and comfort of your pet. Your vet will advise you on the best course of action to take and the details to take note of. You only have to follow the instructions given to the fullest.
Post surgery, you need to stop giving your cat food after midnight the day before the surgery. If you have a young kitten, your vet may advise you to continue giving food if it is hungry.
Your pet will be in discomfort after the surgery. To ease the pain of your cat, your vet may prescribe some medication for you to take home. After you bring your pet home from the clinic, here are some tips you can follow for your pet full recovery:
- Nurse your cat in a quiet place indoors and avoid contact with other pets or animals at this stage.
- Stop your cat from jumping or running around the house. Your vet will advise you on when your cat can start moving around normally.
- Stop your cat from licking the surgical wound. The area may get infected and inflamed.
- Do not bathe your cat for the next week or so until the surgical wound is fully healed.
- Check the surgical wound daily to ensure the area is healing properly.
If your cat show signs of being lethargic, eating less or has diarrhea or vomiting, you should seek help from your vet. You should also contact your vet if there is any discharge, redness or swelling in the wound area.
Facts About Spaying and Neutering
Spaying or neutering is expensive
There are free or low cost spaying and neutering available to the public. It is a misconception that spaying and neutering are costly.
Spaying and neutering will not make your cat dumb
The surgical procedure will have no effect on your cat’s intelligence or ability to learn, play or socialize.
Spaying and neutering will not make your cat overweight
It is the lack of exercise or your inability to control your pet’s diet that will make it fat. Otherwise, if your cat has enough exercise and is not overfed, it will not be overweight.
Spaying and neutering is not a quick fix for all your cat’s behavior issues
Many cat owners hope that by spaying or neutering their cats, it will help to fix their pets’ behavioral problems. You will be disappointed to know it won’t. This is not all quick fix and any sort of improvements will be dependent on other factors as well.
Ultimately, it is all to you to decide what is best for your pet. However, the benefits over the long term is much more than the initial costs involved. You can consult your vet before making a decision. If you have problems with the initial costs, there are many animal shelters and clinics that offer affordable spay and neuter services. Give them a call for the benefit of your pet and yourself.