Cat Spay & Neuter - A Comprehensive Guide To Cat Spaying & Neutering

What is cat neutering?

Cat neutering technically refers to either castration for male cats or spaying for female cats. However, in practice we usually use the term neutering to refer mostly to male cats.

Dr. Thomas DeHondt
DePorre Veterinary Hospital

What is cat spaying?

Spaying a cat is a procedure for female cats that is done where we usually remove the ovaries and the uterus in order to prevent further reproduction.

How does spaying or neutering impact the health and well-being of my cat?

There are a lot of benefits to spaying and neutering. Specifically for female cats, spaying helps reduce the risk of certain cancers significantly. The risk of cancer with these organs is eliminated when the ovaries and the uterus are removed. If cats are spayed before their first heat, their risk of mammary cancer, which is the most common type of reproductive cancer in cats, is significantly reduced to below 1%.

What can I expect from a female cat in heat?

Cats that are in heat do have significant behavioral changes where they're very vocal and needy. They often exhibit other unwanted behaviors, like urinating in inappropriate places. Cats will go into heat roughly every two to three weeks once they're old enough, and spaying can eliminate these unwanted behaviors.

What can I expect from an unneutered male cat?

Unneutered male cats tend to exhibit a lot of marking behavior and have a particularly foul odor. They also are more inclined to roam and are more likely to get in fights with other cats where they can pick up potentially infectious diseases like FELV or FIV. For these behavioral reasons, neutering is an important thing to do.

What is FELV/ FIV?

FELV is feline leukemia virus and it's an infectious virus that affects the immune system of cats. FIV is a similar viral infection that also affects the immune system and can lead to health problems down the road.

How soon should I bring my cat in to a veterinarian to get them spayed or neutered?

We generally target around six months or so to do spays or neuters. We want to make sure that they've been through their vaccine series first, they're healthy for anesthesia, we'll check their pre-anesthetic blood work. Once all that stuff is taken care of, we would proceed with the surgery.

What are the medical benefits of spaying and neutering cats?

The medical benefits include the prevention of certain types of cancers, especially mammary cancers in female cats. There's also the prevention of interaction with cats that are more likely to roam or go outside so they don't pick up infectious diseases. Intact female cats can develop infections of the uterus called pyometra, and once they're spayed then the risk for those infections is eliminated.

How will spaying or neutering affect my cat's behavior?

It will mostly have positive effects. It'll eliminate the behaviors often noticed with cats when they go into heat, and reduce the marking and roaming behaviors with male cats. We don't usually see negative behavioral changes. However, spaying and neutering does slow down the cat's metabolism which can lead to weight gain if not properly managed.

How should I care for my cat before and after spaying or neutering surgery?

After the surgery, the biggest things are trying to keep their activity level to a minimum for about one to two weeks and making sure that they're not trying to lick or chew at their incisions. Male cats generally recover really quickly because they just have two very small incisions. Female cats generally do well, but their recovery involves a bit more. If there are cats that go outside, we're going to want to keep them inside for at least the first two weeks and they'll usually have to wear a cone when they're not being monitored to make sure they don't lick or chew at the incision.

If you still have other questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (248) 609-1625, or you can email us at [email protected]. But please do reach out, and we'll get back to you as fast as we can. Don't forget to follow us on social media Facebook, Instagram

Cat Spay & Neuter - FAQs

Dr. Thomas DeHondt
DePorre Veterinary Hospital

Will my veterinarian give me post-operative instructions?

Yes, when you have the spay or neuter done for your cat, we'll send you home with written discharge instructions and we'll also go over those things in person so that everything is clear as far as what you need to do after the surgery, medications that need to be given, and care you need to have for your pet go.

How long is the recovery after my cats spay or neuter?

Generally, the recovery is about one to two weeks. For neuters, for male cats, it's actually very quick. They just have a really small incision over each testicle and then those incisions heal up quickly and they generally don't require much aftercare as long as we can make sure the incisions don't get infected or anything like that. For female cats, it's a little bit longer of a process. They have an incision in the abdomen, so we need to make sure we keep them calm and keep the incision protected for enough time to let that heal, which can take about two weeks or so.

Will my cat need pain medication at home after the spay or neuter?

Yes, we definitely want to send home pain medication for your cat. The most common type of medication that we use to send home is an NSAID medication which is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory, similar to like Motrin for people but the cat version. The neuter surgery is not nearly as uncomfortable although there is definitely some discomfort involved, so we want to send home the pain medication. The spay procedure, though, is an incision that goes directly into the abdomen and does require quite a bit more manipulation so there is significant discomfort there. Thankfully, we have good pain medications that we can use to control this.

Will my cat gain weight after a spay or neuter?

That's always a little bit of a concern because after their spay or neuter, their metabolism will go down a little bit and their calorie requirements will decrease a little bit. That's just something we have to keep in mind when we're talking about what diet they're eating and how much they're eating. As long as we manage the diet effectively, there really shouldn't be any weight gain.

Will my cat's personality change after being spayed or neutered?

We don't really see much in the way of personality changes, at least not what we would consider to be things that happen in a bad way. There will be personality changes in the scenario that the cat's not going into heat anymore, so we won't have those behaviors. Male cats won't be as likely to mark or want to get outside and roam and do things like that, so those things will change. Generally, the attentiveness of the cat, how loving they are, and their behaviors that we would find desirable don't change very much.

Will my tomcat stop running away if I neuter him?

It'll definitely help. The sooner that it's done the better because once that behavior becomes ingrained and the cat's a little bit older, the benefits are a lot lower. However, if we do that early, they will be a lot less likely to want to get out and run away.

If you still have other questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (248) 609-1625, or you can email us at [email protected]. But please do reach out, and we'll get back to you as fast as we can. Don't forget to follow us on social media Facebook, Instagram