Getting your cat neutered or spayed is a procedure carried out by vets daily. But although we can rationalise any fears with this knowledge, it’s normal to feel nervous about putting your kitty under the knife. Well, don’t worry. Today we’re bringing you a complete guide to post spay cat care. We’ll be covering everything, including the benefits of spaying, a detailed look at the procedure, and guidance on the aftercare that you should be providing after the op.
So let’s jump right in.
What is Spaying?
Spaying is the procedure for neutering female animals such as cats and dogs. If you want to be really pragmatic about it, spaying is the process of sterilising female animals by removing their ovaries to stop them from reproducing.
According to Dictionary.com, the term ‘spay’ dates back to between 1375–1425 and derives from the old Anglo-French term espee, which refers to a sword. The term therefore means to cut with a sword. You’ll be glad to know that vets do not use swords on our feline friends.
What is the Cost to Spay a Cat?
Although the costs will vary between veterinary clinics, the average cost of spaying is between £50-£100. Spaying female cats is a little more expensive than neutering male cats, which is around £50-£80, because there is a little more involved. We’ll cover the procedure shortly!
There are organisations that can help with the cost of spaying. Cats Protection offer a means-tested neutering scheme where you can check your eligibility for funding support.
To Spay or Not to Spay?
If you’re wondering whether you should get your cat spayed, here’s a quick overview of just some of the main benefits of the procedure:
- Cats are less likely to develop mammary gland tumours: 90% of mammary gland tumours are fatal. Getting your cat spayed before her first heat can massively prevent the disease from developing.
- Cats are unable to develop pyometra: Pyometra is a disease that develops in the uterus. If the uterus is removed, then the chance of contracting this disease is eradicated.
- Your cat won’t suffer with any pregnancy and birth-related illnesses: Since your cat won’t be able to get pregnant, you’re also protecting her against any related complications.
- Stops regular heat cycles: Heat cycles are when a cat is sexually receptive. The less heat cycles a cat has, the more her chances are reduced of contracting illnesses like respiratory disease, parasite infestation, and bacterial infection.
There are many behavioural benefits of having your cat neutered. Neutered cats are less likely to
- Cat call, which can be a pain when this occurs in the middle of the night
- Fight, which can also be very annoying at night
- Show aggression – a massive problem during the day or night
- Spray. Cats spray to mark their territory. You definitely don’t want this in your house.
If your cat is able to get pregnant, she may be more prone to develop some of the previously mentioned conditions and illnesses.The cost for treating these illnesses will impact on your vet bills and insurance premiums. In addition to this, just take a look at the costs related to your cat having kittens.
Microchipping: The cost of microchipping is between £10-£20. Cats can have litters of around 2-6 kittens, so you could be looking at a cost of £120 in a worst-case scenario.
It is important to remember that microchipping is now required by law and most responsible cat owners will not purchase cats that haven’t been microchipped.
According to the RSPCA, ‘Section 84 of the Domestic Animals Act 2000 and Regulation 7 of the Domestic Animals Regulation 2001 requires microchipping of cats and dogs prior to sale/transfer and by 12 weeks of age. Regulations 7 and 9 of the Domestic Animals Regulation 2001 outline what information must be recorded in the microchip database.’
Vaccinations: At around 8 weeks kittens will need vaccinating against
- Cat flu (feline herpes virus and feline calicivirus)
- Feline infectious enteritis
- Feline leukaemia virus
You will be responsible for this treatment if they haven’t been adopted by the time they are 8 weeks old
Looking after the litter: Since cats shouldn’t be adopted before 8-9 weeks (as this can cause behavioural problems), it will be down to you to wean, feed and begin toilet training your kittens. You may also have to arrange for interim Pet insurance. The costs of this can soon mount up, so the best way to avoid any unwanted kittens (and costs) is to get your cat spayed.
And it’s not just raising the funds that can be difficult. Raising a litter is hard work, and people often find it incredibly hard to say goodbye. Take a look at our guide to looking after a kitten for a better understanding.
When is the Best Time to Get my Cat Spayed?
Cats reach sexual maturity at around 6 months old when they will have their first heat cycle. However, this can occur as early as 4 months old, so many vets recommend getting your cats ‘done’ before this time, but only after they’ve received all of their initial vaccinations.
There is a traditional view that cats should have at least one litter before being spayed, but scientists have found no behavioural, social or health benefits behind the claim.
What is the Procedure for Spaying?
Although considered major surgery, spaying is a routine operation. A healthy and well cared for cat shouldn’t encounter any complications. Your cat will need to be nil by mouth prior to the operation, so you should avoid giving them any food.
On the day of the operation, you will drop your cat off at the veterinary clinic in the morning, and in most cases, collect her again in the evening.
The surgical procedure is known as an ovariohysterectomy, meaning both the ovaries and uterus are completely removed. Your cat will be put to sleep by a general anaesthetic. The area where the incision will be made, will be shaved and sterilised.
According to the VCA Animal hospital, the most common way of performing the operation is to make a small incision about 1cm long in the middle of the tummy, just below the belly button. This allows enough room for the ovaries and entire uterus to be removed. The incision is closed and sealed with several layers of suture stitches. A sterile dressing will be placed over the wound. If your vet has used non-absorbing stitches, these will be removed after about 10 days.
If you’d like more specific information, please head over to Pet Informed for full details (be warned, there are some gory shots included).
Post Spay Cat Care
Bringing Your Cat Home
Your cat will feel a little groggy after the operation while the effects of the anesthetic wear off. Make sure that your cat has access to her favourite snuggling place or bed. She may want plenty of peace and quiet. Don’t worry if your cat is keeping a low profile. This is perfectly normal and typical post operative cat behaviour.
You will be able to feed your cat the day you bring her home. However, it’s a good idea to keep meals small, as she may be experiencing side effects of the anesthetic or prescribed medication, which can make her nauseous. In this instance, plain food may be preferable, and don’t worry if she doesn’t feel like eating. Again, this is perfectly normal. If after 24 hours your cat still isn’t eating, tempt her favourite treat, such as strong-smelling foods like fish, skinless roasted chicken, or a boiled egg. If this doesn’t work, speak to your vet as they may want to check her over.
Do ask your own vet about feeding. Each vet will have their own personal preferences or protocol about how much and what foods to give your recovering kitty.
Make a note of the medications your cat has been given.Check with your vet about how best to administer them. Some anti-inflammatory drugs will need to be given with food, so avoid giving them to your cat while/if she is off her food.
Give your cat regular pain relief that’s been prescribed rather than waiting to see if she needs them. It’s far better to keep her comfortable rather than only giving her painkillers when she shows signs of being in pain. It’s worth remembering that animals in general try to hide when they are in pain. This is an evolutionary way of protecting themselves against predatory animals that attack vulnerable prey. You may not therefore be able to spot your cat’s discomfort, so giving pain relief will really help her to rest and recover.
How To Tell If Your Cat’s In Pain?
Signs to look out for include trembling or shivering, leg stiffness, refusing to eat, refusing to sit or lie down, restricted movements, growling, hissing, excessive meowing, or hiding alone in a dark place. These all indicate that she could be in pain. Although a little discomfort is to be expected, these aren’t necessarily typical side effects. If painkillers do not take the edge off it, you should consult your own vet.
It’s a good idea to check her rear end once or twice a day. You want to check for any unusual or worsening swelling or large amounts of blood. If this is the case, check with your vet, as they may want to examine her.
Do not allow your cat to lick her abdominal wound. It’s natural that your cat will want to clean the area, but saliva contains a huge amount of bacteria that can prevent her from healing nicely. If you notice this behaviour, she will have to wear a neck collar (Elizabethan Collar). These prevent cats from reaching wounds. Although they look and feel strange, they do not harm or hurt your cat in any way.
You will not have to bath the wound unless it is visibly dirty with mud or feces. A simple wipe with clean cotton wool and warm salt water (saline solution) should do the trick. Generally speaking, you’ll just keep an eye on it and make sure that it doesn’t smell or become infected. If you detect a bad smell, puss, redness, or swelling past 3-5 days after the surgery, contact your vet immediately. Your cat may need a course of antibiotics to get rid of any infection.
Exercise after Spaying
It takes around 10-14 days for wounds to fully heal. We recommend keeping cats indoors to limit exercise. Allow them to play indoors under supervision, but where possible encourage them to rest.
Keep an Eye on Her
Don’t be surprised if your cat wants to play the evening she comes home. Typically cats bounce right back within hours of the surgery and don’t normally seem to be in too much discomfort. However, if after several days your cat does not seem her normal self and isn’t eating normally, drinking, sleeping, pooping, or urinating, or if she is vomiting, drinking excessively, or defecating black, tarry stools, then seek medical advice from your vet immediately.
Final Thoughts on Cat Spaying
Getting your cat spayed can seem like a daunting prospect, especially if she is still a cute little kitten. However, neutering has many health, behavioural, social and financial benefits, so it’s probably the nicest thing you can do to ensure she has a fulfilled and healthy life. Although the operation can cause a bit of discomfort, vets carry our spay procedures daily, and practice makes puuurfect! The risk of complications is minimal, and we tend to look at it as short-term discomfort for long-term gains.
Spaying is a great excuse to give your cat plenty of fuss and attention. Be attentive, refer to this guide on post spay cat care, give her lots of treats, use a heat pad for comfort, and let her rest. Your cat should be fine within a few days. During her recovery, you can enjoy catching up on Rinpoche’s weekly exploits and read her views on spaying in our latest blog post, Rinpoche Calls a Spayed a Spayed. We are sure you will have a good giggle at our often confused cat.
Have any questions? Feel free to leave a comment below or let us know what things you did to care for your kitty post surgery.