What is spaying?
Also known as "ovariohysterectomy or sterilising", spaying is the removal of the uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries in the female cat to prevent her from reproducing. In male cats, the castration of the testes is known as "neutering" which renders him infertile. This article refers to the spaying of the female cat only.
How much does it cost to spay a cat?
This varies from vet to vet and even on circumstances. It is more expensive to spay a cat who is either in heat or who is already pregnant.
At the time of writing (February 2013), I phoned 5 Australian veterinary practices to find out how much they charge to spay a female cat. The prices ranged from $195.00 to $250.00, with an average cost of $223.80
Spaying the female is usually more expensive than neutering the male as it is a more complex surgery. However, most veterinarians are aware of the importance of desexing household pets and do their best to keep costs down. Speak to your vet if you have any concerns about cost. Most are very approachable and will be willing to work with you.
Some animal shelters have cheap spaying and neutering days to encourage pet owners to spay their animals.
When should a cat be spayed?
Cats can be spayed from 8-10 weeks of age. Some veterinarians prefer to do this at an older age, discuss this with your cat's vet. It should definitely be done before your cat reaches 6 months of age as some cats can come into season, and be capable of reproducing very early.
How is spaying done?
Spaying will need to be booked in with your veterinarian ahead of time. The operation will be performed under general anesthesia, which can cause vomiting in some cats. Therefore to reduce the risks, the night before the operation, you should remove food and the morning of the operation, remove water.
Arrive at the vets around 15-30 minutes prior to the appointment so that you can fill out any necessary paperwork. You will be asked to sign a surgery consent form and will be advised of the risks associated with anesthesia and surgery.
Your veterinarian will perform a physical examination of your cat before the surgery to make sure she is in good health. He may have recommended pre-surgery blood panel a few days prior to the surgery to determine the overall health of your cat. It is highly recommended you take up this option.
Before the procedure, your cat will be given a light sedative which will make her drowsy and relaxed. Following this, she will be given her general anesthetic which is either in a gas or injection form. Usually, your cat will be given an anesthetic via injection to put her to sleep and then a tube inserted into the windpipe to allow the gas anesthetic to be administered.
Following administration of the anesthetic, your cat will be shaved either under the belly (midline) or on her left side (the flank), the area will be cleaned with a surgical disinfectant and an incision made. She will be placed on her side or back, depending on the location of the incision. The blood vessels supplying the reproductive organs are tied off, to prevent bleeding and the uterus and ovaries are removed from the abdomen. Stitches are used to close off the incision. The surgery takes between 30-45 minutes.
What are the benefits of spaying a cat?
There are a number of benefits to spaying a cat. The entire cat is more likely to roam (and over a greater distance), exposing her to risks from attacks (dogs, other cats), and vehicles.
Spaying also reduces certain behaviours in the female such as calling, offers a number of health benefits and prevents more kittens being born into a world where shelters are already brimming with unwanted kittens and cats.
Health benefits of spaying a female:
Spaying can reduce a number of conditions in the female cat, including:
Eliminates birth and postnatal conditions such as difficult birth, mastitis etc.
Eliminates calling behaviour
Reduces the likelihood of your female roaming (to look for a partner)
Reduces the chances of your female spraying
It also reduces her chances of catching transmissible diseases such as FeLV and FIV.
Complications of spaying:
As with any surgery, there are some minimal risks involved. However, these are fairly uncommon and the risks of not spaying your female are by far more serious. Some complications include:
Bleeding during the operation.
Post surgical infection of the wound.
If a small part of the ovary is left behind, it will continue to release hormones, which in turn can cause your cat to continue to call.
All anaesthetics come with a small risk of death. This is fortunately very rare.
Post spaying care:
You should be able to bring your cat home either later that day or the following day. She will be a little sore for a few days after surgery and should be kept quiet and not allowed outside.
Some cats will feel somewhat nauseous due to the anesthetic, so she may prefer a fairly bland diet of cooked chicken for a day or so.
Keep an eye on the wound and look for signs of infection such as weeping, redness, swelling or discomfort.
Stitches will need to be removed 10-14 days after surgery.