World Spay Day: Should I have my cat spayed?
Did you know that February 28th is World Spay Day? On this day, nine animal charities including PDSA, the RSPCA, and Cat’s Protection come together to promote the benefits of spaying female cats. But what exactly does that mean?
Many people choose to spay and neuter their cats, but if you’re thinking of having the procedure done to your family pet, you may be worried about what it entails — and how your feline may feel about it. To help, premium cat brand Catit have put together this guide.
Why do people spay their cats?
The simplest reason why people may choose to have their cats spayed is to stop unexpected pregnancies. One unneutered female cat can birth around 18 kittens a year, and in the UK alone there are thousands of kittens abandoned by owners who simply can’t take care of them. This puts an enormous strain on the resources of organisations and charities that exist to take care of neglected animals. Reducing the number of litters born in the first place can help ensure more abandoned cats can receive the care they need and give them a better chance of finding a forever home.
Another reason why people may opt for the procedure is that it can make your cat calmer. Without a heat cycle, you may notice your cat is quieter and even more friendly in a lot of cases. Cats in heat are notoriously loud, so fixing this behaviour is another bonus to having your cat spayed! There is also evidence that spaying may help to prevent certain feline cancers.
Neutering a male cat can also put an end to territorial fighting and spraying as well as preventing him from causing pregnancies in the neighbourhood.
Female cats are usually spayed quite young, at around 4–6 months old. This is because cats reach sexual maturity around this age, so a female cat can get pregnant much sooner than you may think! That said, if you’re thinking about having an older cat spayed, it’s safe to do at any age — but if you’re worried, you can always check with your vet first for peace of mind.
Will it hurt my cat?
Female cats go under general anaesthetic when being spayed in order to have their ovaries and uterus removed, and they may have stitches afterwards to close the surgical wound. This is a routine procedure and vets do it all the time, and your cat will be asleep the whole time.
The vet will want to keep your cat around for a few hours while the effects of the anaesthetic wear off, but she can normally go home the same day if the procedure takes place in the morning. If your cat is kept overnight, you can usually collect her the next day. For male cats, this procedure is a lot more straightforward —they’ll be ready to go home a lot sooner.
After the procedure, you may be given pain medication to take away with you, and your cat might be a bit sleepier than usual, but they’ll soon be back to normal. You’ll be asked to bring your cat in at least one more time to check they’re healing properly. If your cat had stitches as part of their operation, you’ll have to bring them back to vet to have these removed.
Psychologically speaking, spaying your cat won’t make them unhappy. Cats don’t think about having babies or becoming a parent the same way humans do, so they won’t miss being able to have a litter of their own.
How can I make my cat more comfortable?
It can be hard to watch your precious pet go for surgery, but the good news is that there are a few ways you can make your cat more comfortable before and after they are spayed.
Make sure you don’t feed your cat for at least six hours before their appointment — even little treats. This will be useful later if they feel nauseous under anaesthetic, and it can even prevent them from choking if they’re sick during surgery. You can give them their favourite dinner as a special treat when they get home.
When you first bring them back from the vet, they might still be a bit groggy. Keep them indoors and let them rest, and if they do liven up, try not to let them get too boisterous in case they hurt themselves or reopen their surgical wound. You might find it helpful to restrict them to one room temporarily to discourage them from roaming around.
Finally, keep your cat warm and make sure you give them all the attention and cuddles they want. Keeping close to your cat can help them feel protected and safe, and it will give you the opportunity to keep an eye on their incision while it heals.
(Image courtesy of Muhammad Lutfy)