When you take Kitty for spay surgery, you're bringing her in for a hysterectomy. The most common surgery performed on female felines, spaying not only prevents unwanted litters but offers other health benefits for Kitty. They include a lower incidence of mammary cancer, or breast cancer.
When your vet or a spay/neuter facility spays Kitty, it means she's having her reproductive organs removed. Ovariohysterectomy means that her uterus and ovaries are taken out. Traditionally, the surgery is performed when Kitty reaches the age of 6 months, before she goes into her first heat cycle. Many vets and spay/neuter facilities offer pediatric spay surgery when the kitten reaches the age of 2 months and weighs a minimum of 2 pounds.
If your cat is already pregnant, speak with your vet about performing a spay surgery. Allowing a cat to have one litter before spaying is just an old wives' tale, with no benefit for the cat but more kittens to add to the overpopulation problem.
The night before her surgery, Kitty must fast, so don't give her food or water. Your vet or the spay/neuter facility will provide you information regarding all pre-surgical procedures and tell you exactly what time to take up the water dish. She'll order pre-operative lab work if none was done very recently. Kitty requires general anesthesia for the operation. The vet makes an incision in the abdomen's midline, beneath her belly button, then removes her ovaries and uterus. Layers of sutures along with surgical glue close Kitty's incision.
Since spaying is major surgery, Kitty needs time to recuperate. You can usually bring her home the same day of the surgery and feed her a small meal that evening. Once home, keep her as quiet as possible. While some cats are understandably out-of-sorts after surgery, others behave as if nothing has happened to them; both types risk opening the incision. Keep an eye on the incision for any bleeding or signs of infection, such as swelling or pus. If Kitty starts licking at her incision, you might have to put an Elizabethan collar on her -- be prepared for one foul cat.
Fact: There are too many cats and not enough homes. Because of this, millions of unwanted cats die in shelters every year, while many strays live short, miserable lives fending for themselves. When you spay your cat, you help combat the feline overpopulation problem. However, benefits aren't just big picture, but also for the individual cat and her owner. The cancer risk plummets for mammary cancer while it's eliminated for uterine and ovarian cancer. If you've ever had to deal with a cat in heat, that's one problem solved. No more howling, desperate attempts to get out the door to mate and peeing around the house during estrus.
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.