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Is There an Optimal Age for Cat Spay or Neuter?

There are many important things to remember when you get a kitten including when and if you should spay or neuter your kitten. Here, our Lebanon vets will provide information on spaying and neutering, when to get it done and what to expect afterward.

About Spaying & Neutering 

Spaying or neutering your pet, otherwise known as "fixing" your animal, are elective surgeries that involve sterilization. 

The ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), estimates that about 6.5 million animals end up in shelters or rescue systems annually across the United States. Of those animals, less than half are adopted as pets, meaning that millions of healthy cats and dogs are euthanized each year because there is no space for them. 

An effective way for you to do your part in reducing the number of unplanned puppies and kittens born every year (and lighten the load of rescues and shelters) is to book your pet's appointment at a spay and neuter clinic. 

When to Get Your Kitten Spayed or Neutered

Every pet is unique and your vet will be able to advise you on when you should get your cat spayed or neutered. However, typically kittens can be spayed or neutered at about four months old. Adult cats can also be spayed or neutered.

What To Expect When Your Cat Gets Home

When your female  cat is spayed, their uterus and ovaries are removed through a small incision in the abdominal wall so that your pet is no longer able to become pregnant.

Typically when a male cat is neutered the testicles are removed to prevent the production of sperm. This means that they will no longer be able to father kittens.

Following these surgeries, your cat will need a little extra love and attention to ensure that they recover well.

Incision Site

It is very important to prevent your cat from licking or chewing at their incision site. Your vet may recommend an e-collar or recovery suite (surgical onesie) to block your pet from being able to reach the area.

Female pets will have a mid-line incision in their abdomen, male cats will have two incisions, one on either side of the scrotum.

It is important to check your cat's incision site daily. There should be no sign of redness or oozing, and swelling should be minimal. In some cases, males may appear as if they still have testicles. This swelling is normal and should gradually reduce throughout the recovery period. 

If you see any signs of infection contact your vet for further instructions.

Sutures

Most cats will have internal absorbable sutures, with the outer layer of skin held together with water-soluble surgical glue. Do not wash the area, or apply any ointments. Follow the post-op instructions provided by your vet.

If your cat happens to have external sutures or staples they will need to be removed at the end of the recovery period. It's a good idea to book your pet's follow-up appointment when you pick them up on surgery day.

Activity

Every cat is different and some pets are more energetic than others, nonetheless, as challenging as it may be it's important to limit your pet's activity for about 14 days following their surgery.

Stretching and strenuous activity could cause the wound to open, disrupting the healing process and possibly leading to infection. So, that means no running, jumping, playing, or swimming. Cat should be kept on a leash when outdoors and cats should be kept inside. 

Baths are also not allowed during this 14-day recovery period.

Female cats that were spayed while in heat should be kept well away from male animals that could still be attracted to her.

Feeding

Your cat will be given general anesthesia as part of the surgical process. When your cat first comes out of surgery the after-effects of general anesthesia can leave them feeling a little nauseous and lethargic.

Expect your cat to gradually recover their normal appetite about 24 hours after surgery. Begin by offering smaller portions at first before moving to full-size meals. 

If after 24 hours your pet is still lethargic or has symptoms such as vomiting or diarrhea, call your vet immediately for further instructions. 

Signs of Potential Complications

Spay and neuter surgeries are common veterinary surgeries and considered safe for cats, nonetheless, complications can occur on occasion. Your cat's incision site will be a little red (same as surgery day or less) but should not get worse. If your cat's incision site does not show signs of healing, contact your vet right away.

Symptoms that can indicate a problem are:

  • Lethargy or lack of normal energy more than 24 hours after surgery
  • Discharge or bleeding from the incision site
  • Pale gums
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Trouble urinating
  • Heavy breathing, panting
  • Open incision site
  • Pet sitting or laying in an unusual position
  • Restless behavior
  • Shaking or trembling
  • Constant or repeated whining
  • Relentless attempts to lick or chew incision site
  • Hiding or other unusual behavior

Recover Time for Pets Following Spay or Neuter Surgery

Every cat is a little different and your pet's recovery time will depend upon several factors including their age, size, and overall health. Generally, cats are good to resume their normal activities after about two weeks of recovery time. Your vet may recommend a follow-up appointment before allowing your animal to resume strenuous activity.

Be sure to follow the post-op instructions provided by your vet and contact your veterinary clinic right away if your pet is taking longer than expected to recover from their surgery.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Is your cat due to being spayed or neutered? Contact our Lebanon vets today to book an appointment for your four-legged friend. 

New Patients Welcome

Cumberland Animal Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Lebanon companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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