Spaying / Neutering
Why should I have my cat spayed or neutered?
Okay, this is an easy one. First of all, there are way too many homeless cats in the world. The national average for cats in shelters in the United States is a 70% euthanasia rate. 70%. That means for every 10 cats born, 7 of them will be euthanized just for being alive without a home. That in itself should be enough of a reason. But you always find homes for your kittens? Those are homes that would probably adopt a cat regardless, so what you are doing is taking away those homes from other cats that will end up being euthanized in a shelter. Yes, there are responsible purebred breeders out there that are filling a niche for people that want only purebred cats. But, there are also health benefits to your cat to being spayed and neutered, not just reducing the overall cat population.
Spaying. Having your cat spayed before her first heat cycle reduces her risk of developing mammary cancer by 7 times. We can spay your kitten as young as 2-3 months of age. Her reproductive hormones will start to kick in at 6-8 months of age. That is a 4-5 month window of time to get your kitten spayed to drastically reduce her risk of developing mammary cancer, which is a very aggressive malignant cancer. Didn't get her spayed before she went into her first heat? That's okay, there are other health benefits to getting her spayed at any age.
Cats that go into heat year after year, especially if they don't have kittens with every litter, are at a very high risk of developing an infection in their uterus called pyometra. There is not an easy way to diagnose pyometra, and by the time a cat is showing clinical signs of it, she is very sick and close to death. Spaying will 100% prevent pyometra. It will also 100% prevent uterine cancer, which while a little more rare, is still an aggressive malignant cancer. 30% of female cats that are not spayed will also urine mark their territory. Do you really want to take the chance that your cat won't be one of those 30% that spray? Cats that are not spayed can be quite annoying when they go into heat, and are more likely to escape out of the house, and come back pregnant. Not all pregnancies are without complications, and costs can get quite high to save the life of your cat and maybe her kittens.
The actual surgical procedure, known as an ovariohysterectomy, is actually quite a simple procedure. An average spay can take anywhere from 15-30 minutes to perform. Most surgeries are virtually bloodless, especially if done on kittens. The incisions are very small, and cats usually act like nothing even happened the next day. The entire uterus down to the cervix and both ovaries are removed. There is no scientific proof anywhere that spaying a cat at a young age will have any adverse health issues later in life, and there is scientific proof as to the benefits of spaying. Yes, the cats do need to go under anesthesia, and no anesthesia is 100% safe. But, the benefits far outweigh the risks of the procedure.
Neutering. Even if you don't have a female cat, your male cat can still contribute to the cat overpopulation problem if you don't have him neutered (aka castrated). There are also several health and behavioral benefits to having him neutered before his reproductive hormones kick in around 6-8 months of age. For a male cat that is not neutered, his likelihood of urine marking in the home is close to 99%. For a male cat that is neutered before his reproductive hormones start, it drops to 5%. For male cats that are neutered later in life, it is about 30%. Pretty good incentive right there to neuter your cat.
In addition, for male cats that are not neutered, they are very aggressive to other cats, especially other non-neutered male cats, and will get in intense fights, spreading and receiving diseases like feline leukemia and FIV. Older male cats that are not neutered are prone to prostate enlargement that can result in difficulty urinating, and have a higher chance of developing prostate or testicular cancer. Neutering prevents testicular cancer by 100%.
The actual surgical procedure to neuter a male cat, known as an orchidectomy, only takes a few minutes. It takes longer to anesthetize and prep a male cat than to actually do the procedure. There are two ways that a male cat can be neutered - open castration or closed castration. Open castration generally involves incising into the testicular sheath and tying off the spermatic cord and blood vessels separately from the muscle using suture. Closed castration generally involves keeping the testicular sheath intact, and just tying it on itself. Both procedures result in the complete removal of both testicles.
Cost is a big issue? Can't afford the cost of a spay or a neuter?
Not a good excuse. We at All Feline Hospital have spay/neuter clinics every Tuesday during the month of February with low cost spays and neuters. If you live inside the city limits of Lincoln, you can apply for a grant from Animal Control, or from Lincoln Animal Ambassadors, who will pay up to the full cost of a spay or neuter.
If you don't live in city limits, or if you don't qualify for a grant from Animal Control or Lincoln Animal Ambassadors, at the very least you can go to SpayUSA and apply for a voucher that will allow you to receive a low cost spay or neuter from multiple veterinary clinics, including us at All Feline Hospital. We also have what we call our farm/feral program for low cost spays and neuters, call us to see if you qualify.