What Does Spaying a Cat Involve?

Spaying your cat removes the possibility of unwanted kittens.
i Martin Poole/Photodisc/Getty Images

Mother Nature spurs your cat to reproduce, regardless of the kitty's personal thoughts and feelings on the matter. A single female cat can produce dozens of kittens throughout her lifetime, which creates many extra mouths to feed. Spaying your cat early will prevent unwanted litters and encourage better health.

Getting Ready

You're not likely to deal with jitters or nerves from your cat before she goes in for her operation, although you may have to suffer through some loud vocal frustration when you take her food away. The specific procedures before surgery vary depending on your cat's age and vet's personal preferences, but generally involve removing food and water starting at midnight the night before her scheduled operation. She no doubt will express disapproval, much to your dismay. Follow any other preoperative instructions from your vet to ensure a smooth, uneventful procedure.

The Operation

Because cats don't respond well to sex education and aren't responsible enough to use proper birth control, more drastic measures must be taken to prevent unwanted pregnancies in your kitty. Spaying your cat essentially means surgically removing all the female reproductive organs, including her ovaries, Fallopian tubes and uterus. Your vet makes an incision in your kitty's abdomen, pulls out her various innards and snips them out. A little fancy needlework and your kitty is all sewn up, minus her girly bits, and on her way to recovery. Without her reproductive organs, Mother Nature's hold on her is broken, and she no longer feels the urge to mate or breed any longer.


When you pick up your kitty after her operation, you may feel the urge to baby her during her recovery. Give in to this need, as your little girl should rest for a few days to promote proper healing. Keep an eye on her incision site to watch for unusual redness or signs of infection, and use an Elizabethan collar – the ones that look like an upside-down lampshade – if she can't stop licking it. Make a comfortable bed for her and prevent excessive jumping or roughhousing as she heals. If you have multiple cats, you may need to keep your delicate kitty away from the others until her strength returns and she seems on the road to healing. Call your vet if your kitty seems lethargic, isn't interested in food or has diarrhea in the days following surgery.

Myths About Spaying

The lure of adorable little kittens to snuggle with can cloud anyone's judgment, and persistent myths surrounding spaying your cat further confuse the issue. One of the biggest myths in spaying your cat is that she should have at least one litter beforehand. This not only isn't true, it's hurtful to the kittens produced. Millions of cats are killed in animal shelters due to lack of loving homes, and letting your cat have a litter “just because” doesn't help. Going into heat or having a litter before she's spayed is not necessary, and actually can increase her chances of cancer developing later.

Why Have It Done

The whole point of spaying your cat is to eliminate the possibility of having the unexpected pitter patter of little paws as she churns out litter after litter of kittens. Generally speaking, spaying your cat changes her from a yowling, horny she-beast focused solely on mating to a calmer, more peaceful version of herself. Okay, so that may sound a bit dramatic, but removing her ovaries will prevent her from going into heat, when she may spray, cry loudly and pretty much make a nuisance of herself in her attempt to attract a tom. After spaying, this monthly display of carnal urges disappears. Her chance of mammary and uterine cancers developing decreases significantly once she's spayed as well, meaning she'll ultimately be healthier.

When to Have It Done

Cats can enter their first heat cycle at only a few months of age, so you need to be quick to prevent future pregnancies. Kittens as young as eight weeks old can undergo spay surgery, although many vets have their own age and weight preference for the procedure. A cat technically can have surgery while in heat or even during pregnancy, although she will lose all the kittens she is carrying. Discuss spaying with your vet to find out the various whens, whys and hows associated with closing your cat's baby factory. Always consult an experienced veterinarian regarding the health and treatment of your pet.

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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