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Getting Your Cat Fixed: When & What To Know

Preventive care is designed to protect your pet from serious conditions and diseases. This care includes surgery to have them spayed or neutered. Our Williamsburg vets share the benefits of having your cat fixed and what you should know about veterinary surgery.

Why should you have your cat fixed?

According to the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), about 3.2 million cats end up in animal shelters across the United States each year. 

Having your cat spayed or neutered is the best way to help reduce the number of unwanted cats in Williamsburg area shelters. 

However, the benefits of spaying or neutering your cat don't stop at population control. Veterinary surgery to have your cat fixed can help curb many undesirable behaviors cats may exhibit and reduce the risk of your cat developing numerous serious health conditions. 

At what age should a cat be fixed?

Kittens can be neutered or spayed as young as six to eight weeks of age. However, standard spay and neuter procedures are often performed when a kitten is between five and six months old.

That said, it's important to note that these procedures can be performed anytime during your cat's life, provided your cat is healthy. Your vet can examine your cat and advise when it would be best to schedule a spay or neuter procedure. 

Spaying and neutering, what's the difference?

When we discuss getting a cat 'fixed,' we're using a blanket term that covers both female animals' spaying and neutering male animals. 

Spaying Female Cats 

A spayed cat's ovaries and uterus, or sometimes just the female cat's ovaries, are removed surgically. She will not be able to have kittens after she has been spayed. 

Neutering Male Cats

Neutering (called castration) refers to removing a male cat's testes. Your neutered male cat will not be able to father kittens. 

What happens during the spaying or neutering procedure?

Here are the steps that will occur for your cat's spay or neuter surgery:

  1. Your vet will conduct the appropriate diagnostic tests before surgery to ensure your cat is healthy enough to undergo the operation safely. Spay and neuter procedures are done using general anesthesia and typically take between 20 and 90 minutes to complete, depending on your cat's size and any specific medical considerations.
  2. Following anesthesia, the hair on your cat's abdomen will be shaved down, and the skin will be thoroughly disinfected. The organs are then removed, either laparoscopically (with surgical lasers) or with a traditional scalpel, both of which are safe.
  3. After the procedure, the vet will use skin glue, sutures (stitches) or surgical staples to close your cat's skin. Your veterinarian will need to remove the staples or stitches 10 to 14 days after the procedure. 
  4. While the actual procedure is relatively quick, you can generally expect your cat to spend a few hours at the hospital, allowing time for check-in, initial physical assessment, the surgery itself and time for recovery from anesthesia. 

What happens after the surgery is finished?

Spayed and neutered cats will begin to feel better in 24 to 48 hours. You can expect full recovery to take between 10 and 14 days. Keep your cat calm and refrain from allowing them to jump during this period, as this can cause their incision to reopen. Check the incision daily for signs of infection, including swelling, discharge, redness or foul odor. Contact your vet if you notice any of these. 

Also, monitor your cat's behavior. If they are lethargic or not eating or drinking after 48 hours, this could indicate infection. Bring them to an emergency veterinarian for care or contact your veterinarian

What are the benefits of having your female cat spayed?

Population Control 

Before she is six months old, your tiny little kitten may be mature enough to have her kittens. By spaying your female cat before she reaches this age of maturity, you can help reduce the population of unwanted cats in your neighborhood. 

In addition, female cats can birth as many as four litters a year. When we consider that the average litter can range in size from two kittens (from a young mother) to as many as ten kittens, that's a staggering number of potentially unwanted cats. 

Animal Health

Spaying your kitten before she has her first heat can help to reduce her risk of pyometra (infection of the womb) and mammary tumors. It's also important to note that female cats carrying infectious diseases can pass serious conditions on to their kittens, who spread the disease even further. Pregnancy and the birth process can be risky for young cats and costly to their owners. 

Save Wildlife

Cats in the USA are estimated to kill between 1.4 billion and 3.7 billion birds yearly. Reducing the number of homeless cats can help save the lives of countless birds and other wildlife.

Deter Nuisance Behaviors

Female cats who are not spayed will go into heat frequently throughout the year, attracting male cats from across the neighborhood to your home and garden. Unneutered male cats prowling around your property, looking for your female, can be problematic since these males tend to spray, fight and wail. Spaying your female cat can help to keep male cats out of your backyard.

What are the benefits of having your male cat fixed?

Population Control 

While male cats don't have kittens, one unneutered male cat in your neighborhood can make many female cats pregnant. That's why neutering male cats is as important as spaying females in terms of population control.

Health Issues

Neutering your male cat may help slow the spread of serious cat diseases such as Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) and Feline leukemia virus (FeLV), often spread between cats during fights. Neutering can help reduce cat aggression and may mean fewer injuries from fighting. Neutered males also tend to stay closer to home, which helps to reduce their risk of being injured by vehicles. 

Deter Undesirable Behaviors

Unneutered male cats spray inside the home more than neutered males and may be aggressive toward their owners. Having your male kitten neutered while young can help prevent these behaviors from starting. Also, male cats who are not neutered frequently roam over large areas, looking for unspayed females to mate with. These males spray to mark their territory and often fight with other male cats, which can be bothersome, noisy, and smelly.

What happens if you don't have your cat fixed?

Not Having Your Female Cat Spayed

If you choose not to have your female cat spayed, you can expect them to go into heat as often as every two to three weeks. When she is in heat, you can expect her to wail. This noise is to try to attract potential mates.

Not Having Your Male Cat Neutered

If you have an intact male cat, he will likely spray around your home (and yard if allowed outside) to mark his territory. If you do not let your unneutered male breed, he will likely become stressed and may take it out on your furnishings. If you allow him to mate, you may deal with aggression while he is home.

These behavioral concerns and the financial and health implications of intact cats indicate that having your cat fixed is ideal for your sake and theirs.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Do you need to schedule your cat (or dog) for spaying or neutering surgery? Contact our Williamsburg vets to book an appointment.

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