How old does my cat need to be to get a neuter or spay?
Not every veterinarian agrees on exactly what is the best age to spay and neuter. There is now an organization that promotes “fix by five” (months) as a new standard.
At Coastal Cat Clinic we encourage people to have their kitties spayed/neutered as young as about 4 months of age. This usually corresponds to about 4 pounds body weight. At this age, they will not be old enough yet to be in heat or pregnant. They are also not yet mature enough to start spraying urine in the house, but they are mature enough to handle anesthesia predictably. (We like boring surgeries!)
But I thought they needed to have a litter first!
No! Despite wives tales to the contrary, cats do NOT need to be at least 6 months of age. And they certainly do NOT need to have a litter before being spayed or neutered. Some cats are already expecting their first litter by 6 months of age. In fact, there are many specially equipped shelters and humane associations in the US these days that are doing spay/neuter on kittens at 2 months of age and younger without any sort of long term problems. In fact, there are studies available that show that females spayed before their 2nd heat cycle have a greatly reduced chance of developing breast cancer later in life. Benefits of spaying and neutering (ASPCA).
What exactly is a “spay”?
To “spay” a pet refers specifically to removing the reproductive organs (ovaries and uterus) of a girl. The medical term for this is ovariohysterectomy. We open the abdomen beneath the belly button and remove the female organs from near the cervix up to the ovaries. No more heats and no more kittens. In cats, we commonly spay them during a heat cycle since it can be hard to catch them NOT in heat once they hit puberty. We use a very strong and long lasting pain medicine so that your cat is very comfortable for a few days after her surgery. With our routine surgeries, we include a free recheck visit if you have any concerns at all about the surgery site. We’d rather look at it and tell you that everything is great than have you wait longer and then have a bigger issue to take care of afterwards.
What is a “neuter?
To “neuter” a pet is actually a generic term meaning to de-sex either a male or a female pet. But it is most commonly used when referring to removing the testicles of the boys. We make a simple skin incision over each testicle, remove the gonad, tie the artery, and release the stem to pull back up into the abdomen. We do not suture the scrotum. No, we do not remove a male’s penis with this procedure. Yes, they CAN still spray if they want to do so. For mature tom cats, the urine loses much of its very strong skunky odor within a few weeks as the testoterone levels drop. Many/most (not all) cats who have begun to spray urine may stop. Urine spraying is a learned behavior and neutering won’t make them un-learn it, but may reduce the drive to do so.
OK, you convinced me. How to I schedule this surgery?
You can call our office to discuss prices and the surgeries in more detail during normal office hours. Or you can drop us an e-mail. Our doctor will need to have examined your pet prior to scheduling surgery. We want to be sure that your cat is in good health. We will also verify that (s)he is current on all shots, and to discuss your questions and concerns. This also allows us to discuss any problems found during your cat’s physical exam. Certain problems may change your cat’s surgical risk factors, and we want to talk about that in advance of surgery.