When to Spay a Cat?

Cats in heat may try to escape their home.
i kitten image by Zhenya from Fotolia.com

Spaying your kitty is one of the best decisions you can make for her health. A spayed cat is less likely to develop breast, ovarian or uterine cancer. Because of the millions of homeless cats euthanized each year, you are helping the feline over-population problem.


You can have your kitty spayed before she is a full-grown cat. In fact, kittens as early as 6 to 8 weeks old are spayed. A controversy over spaying and neutering young kittens began in the 1970s when animal shelters starting seeking ways to stop the overpopulation of cats. The concern was the safety of young kittens undergoing surgery before their reproductive system matured. The neutering debate continues, but research shows that spaying before the first heat prevents possible mammary gland tumors, according to the ASPCA. Young kittens must weigh 2 pounds before the vet will consider the surgery.


A female in heat urinates more frequently and drips bloody fluids. They crave attention and will howl for long periods. The heat cycle occurs every five to 10 months and lasts six to 11 days. Not only is the heat cycle annoying for you, it will attract the neighborhood male cats who have not been neutered. Veterinarians recommend that you spay your cat before the first heat, which can occur as early as 4 months old.


If your kitty goes into heat before you have her spayed, wait until the heat cycle is over. Though cats are spayed during heat, it is not recommended because of the possible loss of too much blood. As for older cats, your veterinarian needs to assess her health before undergoing anesthesia. Any operation puts stress on the cat and you want to make sure your older kitty is capable of handling the operation and the recovery.


Your veterinarian will provide you with pre-surgery advice. Stop feeding your cat at midnight the night before the surgery. However, kittens are usually allowed to eat before surgery. Under general anesthesia, the vet will remove your kitty's ovaries, fallopian tubes and uterus. After the surgery, your kitty will have some discomfort but should not be in pain. Provide her with a quiet place to rest away from other animals in the house. Try to keep her from running or jumping for the first few days. To keep her from licking the stitches, give her treats to distract her.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.

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