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Getting Your Cat Fixed: When and What to Know

When you welcome a new cat or kitten into your home, one of the most important decisions you’ll make is whether or not to get your cat fixed. Understanding the timing, process, and benefits of spaying and neutering can help ensure your feline friend's healthy and happy life.

Why Neutering for Cats is Important

Neutering your cat is crucial for several reasons:

  • Health and longevity: As mentioned, fixed cats are generally healthier and live longer.
  • Behavioral improvement: Spaying and neutering can reduce unwanted behaviors, making your cat a more pleasant companion.
  • Population control: Millions of cats end up in shelters every year, and many are euthanized due to a lack of homes. By fixing your cat, you help reduce the number of homeless animals.
  • Community benefit: Fixed cats are less likely to roam, reducing the risk of accidents, spreading diseases, and contributing to feral cat populations.

When to Get Cats and Kittens Spayed and Neutered

The ideal age to spay or neuter your cat can vary. For most kittens, the recommended age is around 5 to 6 months old. This timing allows them to grow and develop sufficiently while still preventing unwanted behaviors and health issues associated with sexual maturity. However, some veterinarians advocate for early spaying or neutering, as early as 8 to 12 weeks old, particularly for shelter animals, to help control the pet population.

Spayed and Neutered Cats: Are these surgeries different?

The main difference between spayed and neutered cats is that male cats are neutered, and female cats are spayed. Here is more about these two surgeries:

Having Female Cats Spayed

A spayed cat's ovaries and uterus are surgically removed, sometimes just the female cat's ovaries. 

Your cat will not be able to have kittens after she has been spayed. 

Having Male Cats Neutered

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

The Procedure For Getting a Cat Fixed

There are a number of steps during the process of paying or neutering a cat. They are:

  1. Your vet will conduct the appropriate diagnostic tests before surgery to ensure your pet is healthy enough to undergo the operation safely. Spay and neuter procedures are performed using general anesthesia and typically take between 20 and 90 minutes to complete, depending on your pet's size and any specific medical considerations.
  2. Following anesthesia, the hair on your pet'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 close your pet's skin with skin glue, sutures (stitches), or surgical staples. Your veterinarian must remove the staples or stitches 10 to 14 days after the procedure. 
  4. While the actual procedure is relatively quick, you can expect your pet to spend a few hours at the hospital, allowing time for check-in, initial physical assessment, the surgery itself, and recovery from anesthesia. 

Recovery After Being Spayed or Neutered: How to Help Your Cat Recover

You should notice a significant improvement in your act within a day or two, and complete recovery occurs in about two weeks. Please keep your pet calm and refrain from letting them 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. 

You should continuously monitor your cat throughout recovery to ensure it is not overly active or showing signs of complications. If it still seems lethargic or is not eating or drinking after 48 hours, this could indicate infection. Bring it to an emergency veterinarian for care or follow up with your primary vet. 

Benefits of Spayed Female Cats

Controlling the Cat Population

Before she is even 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. 

Keeping Your Pet Healthy

Spaying your kitten before 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. 

Preventing Attacks on 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.

Detering Bad 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 and looking for your female can be problematic since these males tend to spray, fight, and caterwaul. Spaying your female cat can help to keep male cats out of your backyard.

Benefits of Neutered Male Cats

Reducing the Risk of Unwanted Kittens

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 regarding population control!

Protecting Your Cat Against Health Concerns

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

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.

Would you like to learn more about what to expect when having your cat spayed or neutered? Contact our Lafayette vets to schedule a visit today.

New patients are always welcome.

We look forward to meeting your beloved pet at St. Francis Veterinary Hospital.

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151 S Beadle Rd Lafayette LA 70508 US

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