What is cat spay surgery?
Cat spay surgery (or ovariohysterectomy) is a minimally invasive surgery that is done in
female cats to remove the entire reproductive tract, AKA the ovaries and uterus. This is
usually done to reduce the cat population in a certain place where it is common to see large
amounts of street cats. Large populations of feral cats are dangerous because feral cats can
transmit a vast array of diseases such as cat scratch or toxoplasmosis if left untreated for
long periods of time.
A male cat can go through a similar surgery, called neutering. This surgery consists in the
removal of the testicles at the base of the penis. This surgery is done in about 5 minutes and
is minimally invasive. There is not cutting into any major cavities of the body so risk of
infection is greatly decreased. The wound might be closed with one stitch or none at all as
the injury is so small, it heals itself over time.
Something we always tell owners is to make sure they know if a cat is female or male! This
might sound ridiculous at first, however, you’d be surprised at how common this really is.
It’s a little difficult determining cat sex because male organs aren’t as prominent and do not
stand out like they do in other species. Sometimes, you can lift the tail and you will see two
structures, the anus right under the base of the tail and then another little structure that
might be either be the vaginal opening or the penis. Visiting a veterinarian for sexual
determination might be a good idea.
What does it mean when a cat is in heat?
When a female cat hasn’t undergone spay surgery, they can go through heat. Heat is a
process cats go through when they are fertile and ready to mate with a male. The first heat
can happen when they are from 6 to 10 months of age and can last up to 5-6 days. Some
signs you might see are: your cat constantly rubbing against you or an object around the
house, they might become more affectionate than usual or demanding. They will always
want to grab your attention and will do so by rolling on the floor or doing things that usually
catch your attention. A very common sign is when cats start to become more vocal.At night,
she might start wailing or crying out in a stressful tone that will keep you up all night, we
Unlike dogs, cats do not bleed during this period so this isn’t something you’d have to worry
about. Something that might cause concern however, is the fact that they release special
hormones that attract males so you might find male cats sneaking into your home,
especially at night when you’re asleep because remember, cats are nocturnal mammals. The
last thing you want is for your cat to undergo an unwanted pregnancy. Overpopulation of
stray animals is already a very big issue so trust us, spaying your cat is responsible and
works in favor of animal welfare and the environment.
What are the benefits of cat spay surgery?
Cat spay surgery brings so many benefits! We’re excited to tell you exactly what they are.
Some veterinarians have sufficient evidence to believe that if a female cat is spayed before
her first heat, she won’t develop mammary cancer, which is a very common type of cancer
in cats. Some hormones produced in the reproductive tract in the female can aid in the
development of this tumor. Another very common complication in female cats is pyometra,
which is when the uterus goes through a process of inflammation and secretes pus.
Pyometra can put your cat’s life at risk and usually ends in an ovariohysterectomy.
In males, this eliminates any possibility of developing testicular cancer which is also a very
common tumor in tom cats. Behavioral benefits also come along with this surgery. They will
not try to escape as an intact male cat might, because they will not have the sexual
hormones that tell them to go outside and look for a receptive female.
It is untrue that spaying your female or neutering a mal cat will make them gain weight. Like
anything in life, it must be accompanied by routine exercise. Make sure after the recovery,
your cat leads an active life by keeping toys or sets around the house where they can jump
on and off of. If this is something that really bothers you, try visiting a veterinarian
nutritionist so that they can prescribe a special diet to help your cat not gain those extra
Will it cause my cat pain?
The entire procedure is done under general anesthesia, which means your cat won’t feel
anything or remember anything from the surgery. This will not be a traumatic or painful
experience. The veterinarian surgeon will inject your cat with an intramuscular medication
that will help your cat calm down and be easier to handle. During this time, it is very
important for your cat to feel a calm environment, as felines are a bit more sensitive to
environmental disturbances and this can raise their heart rate and turn it into an unpleasant
experience. Then, the anesthetic is injected through the vein, after the veterinarian has
placed a catheter preferably on one of the frontal arms. The anesthetic will make your cat
go unconscious and not feel any pain during the surgery. They will be held under anesthesia
with inhaled anesthesia until the procedure is over. After the ovariohysterectomy is over,
the veterinarian will send you a couple of pain medications that’ll help with the recovery
How old does my cat have to be in order to be spayed?
Cats can have this surgery from two months and older and must weigh at least two pounds.
Weight requirements are very important for surgery mainly because of the medications
that are used in the process. The dose is calculated depending on how much your pet
weighs, so the heavier they are, the more medication is used. Two pounds is the lowest your
cat can weigh to be able to metabolize the medications correctly and will avoid an overdose
or toxicity. The age requirement of at least two months old is necessary because at this age, cats have a lower risk of death when using anesthesia, and it is considered that at this age
females and males have developed important structures in the body that would otherwise
require sexual hormones.
What is the recovery process like?
After the surgery, make sure you get an appointment with your veterinarian at least 3 days
after, so they can remove the stitches. This is also something that can be done by the owner,
but if you feel like you’re not completely sure how to do it or might put your cat’s health at
risk by doing it at home, then it might be a better idea to schedule an appointment with your
vet. A nurse might offer an Elizabethan collar (also known as ‘cone’) for your cat. These
collars are used after surgery so that cats aren’t able to access the wound; cat tongues are
rough and have little spikes on them which makes it easier to open back up a wound, so it’s
a better idea to keep their tongues away from the wounds as much as you can. You can leave
the cone on for about a week, but remember to occasionally take it off to let your cat feel a
little bit calm and not develop any neck pain or injuries in the area.
Like all surgeries, an ovariohysterectomy also carries a certain risk. If your cat is more than
5 years old, the risk is a bit higher because older animals have a harder time metabolizing
medications, as their organs (mostly liver and kidneys) a bit more worn out. Depending on
the breed of cat you have and its usual habits, you must also keep in mind that obesity is a
risk factor and this is why it is important to speak to your veterinarian about your concerns
before the surgery. If they do not have such an active lifestyle, it might be a good idea to
implement exercise or a special diet at home.
Make sure you follow all of the pre surgery advice that’ll help you prepare your cat. It is very
important to respect the number of hours your veterinarian tells you to keep your cat from
eating. This can result in vomiting when injected with anesthesia or in the worst-case
scenario, vomit asphyxiation. Check your cat’s incision site every couple of hours but do not
touch it without washing your hands as it is easily infectible, especially if it is recent. Keep
a close eye on your cat’s behavior and remember, since animals can’t use their words, they’ll
tell us everything with their behavior.
If you notice redness, vomiting, pus, swelling or allergic reactions to medications, do not
hesitate to visit the veterinarian urgently!