October 23, 2021

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What to Expect After Neutering or Spaying Your Cat

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Are you neutering or spaying your cat soon? Naturally, you may have questions about your furry friend’s procedure. From everything to the first appointment, surgery date, and at-home recovery, we’ve got some tips to help you and your cat navigate this new experience. Fortunately, we sat down with Trupanion veterinarian, Dr. Caroline Wilde to learn more about the neuter and spay process and best practices for a healthy and happy furry family member.

Neutering or spaying your cat: what you need to know

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What’s neutering or spaying your cat?

If you’re new to being a cat owner, you may not know when exactly to neuter or spay your best friend. After all, you just brought them home! While some pet owners may get their cats as a kitten, some pets may be a bit older. Wilde explains exactly what this surgery means for your cat.

“Neutering is a surgical procedure that renders your pet unable to reproduce. ‘Neuter’ is the gender-neutral term for this procedure; Also, the procedure involves the surgical removal of reproductive organs in male and female cats.”

Consider talking to your veterinarian about the options that work best for your cat. They can let you know the next steps and what the surgery entails for your furry friend.

Why should you have your cat spayed or neutered?

Choosing to neuter or spay your cat is a personal decision. Whether you decide to or not, there are some factors to consider for your furry friend. Wilde points out some of the health benefits to choose to neuter or spay your cat.

Consider the following:

  • Neutering a male cat early can reduce the risk of developing spraying behavior.
  • Can decrease male cats’ desire to roam, and can decrease inter-cat aggression
  • Spaying female cats can help reduce the risk of pyometra, which is a life-threatening uterine infection
  • Can decrease the risk of breast cancer, and decrease inter-cat aggression

Illness can affect your pet at any time. Although, choosing to neuter or spay your cat doesn’t eliminate the chance of illness, but it can help reduce the risk of your pet getting cancer and other diseases.

At what age should you have your cat neutered or spayed?

Once you’ve talked with your veterinarian they typically will recommend what age your pet should get their surgery. For example, “I recommend getting cats neutered at 4-6 months because once cats learn behaviors like spraying or marking, it’s much harder for them to unlearn them. Also, it’s generally recommended to spay female cats before their first heat cycle,” says Wilde. While every cat and kitten is different, they may be on their timeline. Further, check-in with your veterinarian can help ease your woes and answer any questions you may have about your appointment for your best friend.

What does a neuter or spay surgery involve?

So, you’ve got your appointment date for your cat, now what? Wilde explains what you can expect on your cat’s surgery day.

  • It’s generally an outpatient procedure but can vary with individual veterinarian recommendations. For example, typically your cat is generally dropped off in the morning and picked up in the late afternoon.
  • Cats can sometimes act as nothing happened, but it’s still a major procedure. Veterinarians have their specific guidelines, but generally speaking, the recovery process is about a week.
  • Lethargy is not uncommon after surgical procedures, so some downtime and cuddles may be beneficial for your cat.

Best practices for at-home recovery 

Although your cat may feel like they want to play and interact, they need to have the time to properly heal. Wilde suggests a few tips to help provide a seamless healing experience.

  • Make sure your cat wears an e-collar for as long as your veterinarian recommends, to help make sure your cat can’t lick at the incision to introduce infection, or cause the incision to open.
  • Follow all of your veterinarian’s recommendations regarding rest and recovery, even if your cat acts as nothing happened.
  • Consider setting up a warm and inviting space for your cat. For example, extra blankets, a pet bed, cozy pillows, and water can help provide a comfortable and cozy space for your pet to relax.
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Neutering or spaying your cat is a family decision

Whether you’re going home with a new furry family member already neutered or are considering your options, your veterinarian is a wonderful resource during the entire process. Also, make sure your family’s schedule is flexible to help care for your cat if the unexpected comes up. By sticking to the treatment plan and talking with your veterinarian you can rest easy that your cat will be up playing in no time at all!

For more on cat health, read When Do Kittens Calm Down? Cat Owner Questions Answered

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