Many people wonder about the necessity of spaying their female kittens or neutering their male kittens. There are many “pros” and few “cons” to spaying or neutering kittens and cats. I’ll explain some of the most frequently asked about here.
What is spaying or neutering?
Spaying females and neutering males is basically the de-sexing of the animal. Both procedures are performed surgically under anesthesia by veterinary professionals in sterile conditions.
The spay surgery is more invasive since the female reproductive organs removed include the ovaries, fallopian tubes and the uterus. Spay surgery can last 30 minutes and kitty will likely spend one night in kitty recovery at the vet hospital. The neutering of males involves the removal of the testicles from the scrotal sac. His surgery can be done in about a minute, not counting anesthesia and recovery, but he will still probably stay overnight to ensure his safety.
What are the benefits of spaying or neutering?
There are multiple benefits to spaying or neutering pets. One of the most important is to help control the overpopulation of the pets and dumping of unwanted animals. This is an all too common side effect of irresponsible pet ownership.
The second benefit of spaying and neutering is the treatment and prevention of hormone-induced diseases, which most often involve cancers of the ovaries, uterus and testicles. Another disease that can be lessened or erased is insulin resistance or diabetes, which is exacerbated by the hormone progesterone. Many veterinarians recommend spay or neuter as treatment or management for this condition.
The third benefit from spaying and neutering is the control of destructive or aggressive behaviors also caused by hormones. Females in heat can begin biting and scratching their humans and showing aggression. Males may also display aggressive behavior but it manifests in different ways, such as marking (urinating) to claim territory or scratching the furniture in places he never did before.
Are there any disadvantages to spaying or neutering?
Although the benefits far outweigh the disadvantages there are some minor downsides of which you should be made aware. Since the metabolic rate of a de-sexed animal is lower than in intact animals their caloric needs are reduced. Many owners complain that their kitties show a marked weight gain in the months and years following surgery, and some people actually use this as an excuse NOT to spay or neuter. What they don’t realize is that by continuing to feed in the same way as prior to surgery they are contributing to the problem.
If you take this fact into consideration and feed a higher quality food but in lower quantity, you may actually save money in the long run, and keep your kitty in top form as well.
The only other disadvantage is the loss of breeding potential. For most people this shouldn’t even be a consideration, with so many unwanted litters being euthanized yearly.
How do I care for my kitty after surgery?
Once your kitty returns home after surgery, whether male or female, they will probably be outfitted with the “cone of shame”, or an Elizabethan collar (e collar) as shown here. This will prevent kitty from licking the incision and/or pulling out the stitches before they are ready to be removed.
Be sure to follow your veterinarian’s additional instructions if any are provided. There may be a follow-up visit scheduled for a week to 10 days after surgery. In the meantime be aware of any changes in the incision, such as increased redness, swelling, or discharge which may indicate an infection and would signal the need for sooner than scheduled follow up.
A normal non-infected spay incision should look like this:
Unless you are breeding and showing animals professionally spaying and neutering should be the common practice. If there is a medical reason why your kitty can not or should not undergo this procedure your trusted veterinarian can advise you of your other available options.
Please help stop the destruction of healthy animals due to overpopulation by adopting from a local shelter or rescue organization (where the animals may have already been spayed, neutered and/or microchipped) and ensuring you don’t add to the problem by spaying and neutering to prevent unwanted litters.
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