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Kitten Spaying: What Happens During Cat Spay Surgery

kitten spaying

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Making the decision to have cat spay surgery done on your feline friend is a personal, important decision. Get the facts you need to make the best choice for your precious kitten.

Why Should I Spay My Kitten?

Pet parents usually make the choice have their cat spayed based on recommendations from their veterinarian or breeder. Rescue organizations and shelters typically require all adopted cats to be spayed.

One of the main benefits of having your cat spayed is preventing pet overpopulation. A female cat is called a queen, and an un-spayed queen can produce three litters of kittens a year. If she gives birth to four kittens per litter, then the numbers of kittens add up quickly. A spayed queen cannot reproduce because her uterus and ovaries have been removed.

Kitten spaying offers several behavioral benefits. These include a reduction in unwanted behaviors such as roaming and urine spraying.

As for health benefits, cat spay surgery greatly reduce the cat’s risk of breast cancer and eliminates her risk of uterine cancer, ovarian cancer and pyometra, a lethal uterine infection.

When to Spay a Cat

I always recommend spaying a cat around 6 months of age. Cats go through sexual maturity at that age and can get pregnant, which is why that’s an optimal time for the surgery. I have seen cats barely older than kittens give birth to more kittens.

The Process of Cat Spay Surgery

  1. Your veterinary team will examine your cat and run her bloodwork before surgery, either the same day or earlier, to make sure she is safe for anesthesia.
  2. If her bloodwork is normal, your cat will be administered an injection to sedate her, reduce any anxiety and pain, and then possibly place an intravenous catheter in her leg. In that case, you may notice an area of clipped fur on one of your cat’s legs after surgery.
  3. Your cat is then placed under general anesthesia, the hair on her abdomen is clipped, and the skin will be surgically prepped for sterile surgery.
  4. The surgeon will make an incision through the skin into your cat’s abdomen below her belly button. The size of the incision depends on the age and size of your cat.
  5. The surgeon uses a tool called a spay hook to locate the uterus and bring it up and out of the abdomen. After the ovaries are visualized, the surgeon will clamp off the ovaries with a surgical tool.
  6. Using sutures, the surgeon will tie off each ovary and remove them using a scalpel or a laser. Depending on the surgery technique used, the surgeon may leave the uterus in the cat’s body or clamp it off and remove the uterus as well.
  7. The surgeon then checks the attachments for bleeding. If everything looks good, the surgeon carefully places the uterine and ovarian attachments back inside the abdomen.
  8. Lastly, the abdomen is closed with three layers of suture or staples. The sutures usually are under the skin and dissolve after a set period of time. This has two benefits: It eliminates the need for suture removal, and the cat is less likely to bother buried sutures.
  9. After surgery, your cat receives an injection of pain medication and wakes up in recovery.

Your cat will be hospitalized for the procedure, which usually is performed on an outpatient basis. Most cats go home the same day as the surgery. On occasion, a veterinarian may elect to keep a cat overnight for observation after cat spay surgery.

Is Cat Spay Surgery Painful?

Spaying a cat is an surgical procedure and is painful for the cat. However, with the advent of modern pain medications and a better understanding of pain control in cats, most felines experience minimal discomfort after surgery when all post-surgical recommendations are followed. This includes administering pain medicine for cats, even if your cat doesn’t seem to be in pain.

It is critical to control your pet’s pain following any surgical procedure. Animals—and people—in pain take longer to recover.

Are There Risks Associated With Cat or Kitten Spaying?

The risks associated with cat spay surgery include pain, infection, dehiscence or opening of the surgical site and excessive bleeding. These complications can be life-threatening.

In addition, kitten spaying requires general anesthesia, which adds risks, including death. This is why bloodwork and a full exam are important safety procedures before administering any general anesthesia.

What Can I Expect During Cat Spay Surgery Recovery?

Keep an eye out for signs of infection, such as excessive swelling, redness, heat, odor or discharge from the surgical site. If you notice any of these signs, call your veterinarian immediately.

Minimize your spayed cat’s risk of infection by following discharge instructions from your veterinarian exactly and preventing your cat from licking the surgery site. You can place a cone or no-bite collar on your cat to keep her from accessing the surgery site for the recommended time period after surgery.

When Will My Cat Be Able to Resume Normal Activity?

Most spayed cats can resume normal activity 7 days after surgery. It is critical to control your cat’s post-surgery activity, because excessive activity can cause swelling. In some cases, the incision can open up if the cat is too active too soon, so follow all post-surgical instructions from your veterinarian exactly.

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Featured Image: via iStock.com/LisaValder