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Getting Your Cat Fixed: When & What to Know

Having your cat spayed or neutered not only prevents your feline companion from having kittens, but also protects them against numerous serious health conditions. Our Los Angeles vets discuss the benefits of having your kitty spayed or neutered and what you can anticipate when getting a cat fixed.

Spaying & Neutering Procedures

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

Having Female Cats Spayed 

A veterinarian surgically removes a female cat's ovaries and uterus, or sometimes just the ovaries. 

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

Having Male Cats Neutered 

Neutering (also referred to as castration) refers to the removal of a male cat's testicles. Your neutered male cat will not be able to father kittens. 

Why are spaying or neutering procedures recommended?

A large number of unwanted cats and kittens are brought to animal shelters across the United States each year. By having your cat spayed or neutered, you can help reduce the number of unwanted cats entering Los Angeles shelters.

Plus, the benefits of spaying or neutering your kitty don't stop at population control. Along with reducing the unwanted kitten population, a spayed or neutered cat also has a reduced risk of certain medical conditions.

How old should my cat be when they are spayed or neutered?

Did you know that your kitten only needs to be eight weeks old to be spayed or neutered? However, most vets perform standard spay and neuter procedures when a kitten is between five and six months old.

It's also worth noting that your cat can actually be 'fixed' at any point during their life as long as your vet finds them to be healthy. A vet can examine your cat and provide advice on when it would be best to schedule a spay or neuter procedure.

The Procedure for Getting a Cat Fixed

Though 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 surgical procedure itself, and time for your cat to recover from anesthesia.

Your veterinarian will perform a number of steps during the process of spaying or neutering your cat. These include:

  1. Perform Diagnostic Tests - Your vet will perform specific diagnostic tests to confirm your cat is healthy enough to safely undergo the procedure. Spay and neuter procedures are conducted using general anesthesia. Depending on your pet's size and any specific medical considerations, these operations typically take between 20 and 90 minutes to complete.
  2. Shave the Fur on Your Pet's Abdomen - After anesthetizing your cat, the vet will shave the fur and thoroughly disinfect the skin on your pet's abdomen. The organs are then removed, either laparoscopically (with surgical lasers) or with a traditional scalpel, both of which are safe.
  3. Stitch or Staple the Surgical Site - Once the procedure is complete, the vet will use sutures (stitches), surgical staples, or skin glue to close your pet's skin. Your vet will need to remove stitches or staples 10 to 14 days following the procedure.

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

You should notice a great improvement in your act within a day or two and complete recovery occurs in about two weeks. Keep your pet 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, which can include swelling, discharge, redness, or foul odor. Contact your vet if you notice any of these. 

Should be sure to continuously monitor your cat throughout recovery to ensure that they are not being overly active or showing signs of complications.. If they still seem lethargic or are not eating or drinking after 48 hours, this could indicate infection. Bring them 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 actually be mature enough to have kittens of her own. 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 10 kittens, that's a staggering number of potentially unwanted cats. 

Keeping Your Pet Healthy

Spaying your kitten before she has her first heat can help to reduce her risk of pyometra (infection of the womb) as well as mammary tumors. It's also important to note that female cats carrying infectious diseases can pass serious conditions on to their kittens who go on to 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

It is estimated that cats in the USA kill between 1.4 billion and 3.7 billion birds each year. Keeping the number of homeless cats to a minimum 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, looking for your female, can be problematic since these males have a tendency 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 actually have kittens themselves, 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 when it comes to population control!

Protecting Your Cat Against Health Concerns

Neutering your male cat may help slow the spread of serious cat diseases such as Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) and Feline leukemia virus (FeLV) that are 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 to reduce their risk of being injured by vehicles. 

Deter Undesirable Behaviors

Unneutered male cats typically spray inside the home more than neutered males and may be aggressive towards their owners. Having your male kitten neutered while young can help to prevent these behaviors from starting. Also, male cats who are not neutered, frequently roam over large areas in search of unspayed females to mate with. These males will 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.

Is it time to schedule your cat's spay or neuter procedure? Contact our Los Angeles veterinarians today to book an appointment.

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Ambassador Dog & Cat Hospital is accepting new patients! Our veterinary team is passionate about the health of pets in our Los Angeles community. Contact us today to book your first appointment.

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