Tuesday, March 2, 2010 8:04 AM

The Necessity of Spaying or Neutering Your Cat: Part 2

The surgical procedures involved in spaying and neutering are very simple. For females, a small slit is made in the abdomen, the uterine horns pulled through and removed, and the incision sewn up. For males, a small nick through which the testicles are removed from each scrotal sac is generally so tiny that it heals on its own, without stitches. The recovery time in the hospital is to make sure the animal comes out of the anesthesia without any problems. Purging the anesthetics from their systems makes up the bulk of the recovery period, the surgeries themselves being almost incidental!

In an effort to reduce the homeless pet population, some shelters are spaying and neutering animals as young as six weeks old. I understand their logic, but feel that this is too young for this procedure. Just as castrating young boys resulted in adults not fully formed, an animal needs to be 5 or 6 months of age before this procedure is performed to achieve optimal growth. However, this is not a perfect world, and neutering a bit too young is still preferable to animals replicating themselves scores of times during their lifetimes.

Females should be spayed before their first heat, at around 6 months. If you wait any longer, you are asking for trouble. The operation will not be performed if your girl is in estrus, since the engorgement of tissue makes troublesome bleeding a potentially fatal complication. I remember making Sweet Pea's spay appointment, then suffering through tomcats calling for her every night the week before the procedure. She didn't know what to make of them, but I was so nervous that this attention might cause her to go into heat that I kept the windows closed! Everything worked out, but the toms knew she was almost ready, and I was glad I didn't wait any longer.

Males can be neutered anytime, but it is best to do it around 6 months as well. This prevents them from developing bad habits that will be very difficult to break later on. I have heard many stories of males neutered when they were several years old, in the hopes that their behavior would improve. While some improvement was probably noticeable, the fighting and wandering persisted, as did the spraying--just without the pungent smell. Take away the impetus for these behaviors at the outset and the chances of them developing in the first place are very slim!

Does spaying and neutering improve an animal's health, even its longevity? It certainly does, so tune in tomorrow, when we will discuss the many ways!
Chat later!

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Amanda has worked with animals for many years and has always had cats in her life. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband and two excellent cats.
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