Y2SPAY Main : About the Surgery ... : Altering Your Cat

Altering Your Cat
By Monte W. Gulzow, DVM

Hopefully the only surgery that your cat will ever have to go through is "sterilization." Spayed, neutered, fixed, cut, whatever call it, it is the most important and possibly the most beneficial thing you can do for your cat's health.

Ideas about when to have this procedure done vary. Current thoughts are to have this done before the cat reaches puberty in both males and females.

There are many benefits to having it done this early.

In females, spaying (ovariohysterectomy) is the removal of the female reproductive tract from the cervix through the ovaries. Pre-pubertal spaying virtually eliminates the cat's chances of getting ovarian, uterine and breast cancer. These are three common cancers in intact females and in cats they are almost always malignant. Of course the obvious benefits still occur as well. The cat will not cycle or get pregnant.

Males are neutered. This involves the removal of the testes and associated structures. If this is done before the cat reaches puberty behavioral problems like spraying, roaming and fighting are decreased or prevented. Early neutering also decreases the chances of prostate and testicular cancers.

There seem to be no bad side effects to early spaying/neutering.

Some veterinarians prefer delaying the surgery until the animal is older. Since the veterinarian is the one who is doing the work, you may need to defer to their preference. However, two old myths that may be cited are not true. Letting an animal have a heat or litter is not advisable. It was thought that letting a female have a litter would improve her disposition. There is no truth to this at all. The disposition of an animal is not changed by being a mother any more than it is for people. Besides, the kittens NEVER send Mother's Day cards or call on her birthday.

The other myth is that a male needs to be full-grown to prevent him from having a small urethra and possibly getting "plugged" later in life. It is true that the urethra is smaller in cats neutered pre- puberty, but it will expand as much as any other male cat's urethra under pressure. Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease is not caused by being neutered.

An argument against early surgery may be anesthesia. This is a legitimate concern depending on the anesthesia used, especially injectables. However, by using a different anesthetic that works well on younger kittens, many kittens will be awake and eating hours after the surgery. They seem to recover quicker over all from the surgery.

In general, a healthy kitten can be neutered/spayed very early in life. The benefits are much higher than the risks.

Y2SPAY Main : About the Surgery ... : Altering Your Cat