There are many good reasons to spay Tabby: It decreases her chances of developing mammary cancer, eliminates risk of ovarian and uterine cancer and helps your local shelter by keeping unwanted animals from coming in its doors. Spaying your cat also discourages unwelcome gentlemen callers hoping to share her affection.
Cat Spay: Routine Surgery
When it's time to spay your cat, she'll go through a relatively simple surgery, while under general anesthesia, to ensure she's unable to reproduce. Tabby's ovaries and uterus are removed through an incision on her belly or flank. Some of her belly fur is shaved -- it will grow back -- and she'll likely recover fairly quickly. You'll have to keep her quiet for a day or two to give her internal wounds some time to begin to heal, but she'll soon be back to her normal, busy self. If she pays too much attention to her incision, such as licking or scratching it, or seems lethargic, contact your vet.
The Estrus Cycle
An unspayed cat will have her first heat, or estrus cycle, when she reaches puberty, generally at 6 months of age. Since cats are seasonally polyestrus, they can have multiple cycles during the breeding season. The breeding season varies according to where you call home and is affected by the length of day and temperature. In the Northern Hemisphere, cats usually cycle from January until late fall. The heat cycle can be as short as one day or as long as a week, followed by a week or two when she's out of heat. Tabby will go in and out of heat until environmental factors influence her cycle or until she's ovulated during mating, meaning she's pregnant.
You'll know when Tabby's in heat; she'll probably become very affectionate, demanding attention from you and rubbing against you. She'll likely roll on the floor and become quite vocal. Though you probably won't pick up on them, she's also releasing hormones and pheromones that drive the neighborhood Tom cats wild. With their keen sense of smell, the local boys learn there's an an available female ready to mate. Knowing there's an usnpayed cat nearby, the Toms will loiter about your house, wailing, fighting and urine marking their territory in an effort to mate with your kitty.
Boys and Girls
Spaying Tabby will put an end to most -- if not all -- unwanted male visitors. Simply put, if there's nothing to come around for, they'll go elsewhere. As well, if she goes outdoors, spaying her will keep her closer to home. Cats who aren't spayed and neutered will wander off looking for love, putting them at risk from traffic, predators and potential intentional cruelty. As well, she's at increased risk of encountering other cats with diseases such as feline AIDS. If Tabby has a brother at home, he'll benefit from neutering for the same reasons: less roaming and decreased chance of injury and contracting diseases.