It is scientifically proved that timely spaying of cats improves the quality of life and increases life expectancy. A pet gets the opportunity to enjoy the company of a person and pays more attention to playing and hunting without wasting health to fight constant changes in hormone levels.
Spaying is the restriction of sexual functions or the removal of genitals. The aim is to deprive the animal of reproduction function, helping the pet to get used to living with a human. This is a manifestation of humanity in relation to pets taken out of their natural habitation.
There are various methods of cat spaying. It is up to a veterinarian to decide which way would be more preferable for a particular cat.
Ovariohysterectomy is the ovaries and uterus removal performed through the incision along the so-called white line (on the stomach) or through a small lateral incision. This method completely eliminates the risk of ovaries and uterus diseases, which affects more than 50% of cats in old age. The only disadvantage is the need to follow all the recommendations of the vet within 1-2 weeks after the operation. This method is practiced by the absolute majority of veterinarians and is considered an ordinary procedure.
Oophorectomy is performed through the abdomen or lateral incision and the ovaries are removed. The uterus remains intact, which often leads to the need to re-operate the cat because of uterus diseases that may develop. Cat doesn’t have reproduction function, heat ends, but the risk of pyometra and mammary tumors still remains high.
It is more preferable to perform the operation through the incision along the white line. Such an incision heals longer, but the vet is working with his hands and is able to see the smallest details. Cat spaying through the lateral incision has only one advantage: the pet recovers more quickly. However, pulling the ovaries and uterus out with the hook and without any visual access results in stretching the internal organs almost to the rupture, which often leads to internal damage invisible to the surgeon.
Laparoscopic cat spaying is the removal of ovaries and uterus through a small puncture. In peritoneal three or two punctures are made through which pressurized carbon dioxide in transmitted. Carbon dioxide is used to raise the abdominal wall. Then a camera and instruments are introduced into the peritoneal through the punctures. The process is displayed on the monitor. This sophisticated equipment is available only in a couple of clinics. Sometimes, under the guise of “laparoscopic techniques” the owners may be offered the usual ovariohysterectomy through the lateral incision, but twice as expensive.
Spaying of cats at home using a laparoscope is practically impossible because the equipment is too large and too expensive to carry it just for one procedure. This method has the advantage when it comes to operating a large dog: usual spaying method requires a large incision. Cats are medium-sized animals, so there is no sense to use a laparoscope.
Tubal occlusion is an abdominal surgery as a result of which the reproductive organs are not removed. The purpose of the procedure is to make a cat sterile by tubal ligation (so that the sperm cannot reach the uterus). In this case libido and menstrual cycle remain the same. This operation doesn’t work properly in young animals, because sutures may dissolve over time and the cat will become fertile again. After this type of spaying estrus doesn’t stop, and the cat remains hormonal unstable. For domestic cats, living with their owners it is an absolutely useless procedure.
Drug spaying is temporary suppression of the sexual function performed by introducing special drugs. Depending on the type of drug, the period of “sexual activity” can be postponed for a few weeks or for several months. Many doctors believe that even a single use of these drugs increases the risk of pyometra, mammary tumors and ovarian cancer.
Radiation or chemical spaying procedure is conducted the following way: a special garment of radiation-resistant material is put on the cat. The unprotected area is irradiated in order to suppress the ovarian function. This method is considered to be safe, but there is a risk that under the radiation impact the cells will be modified, which, in turn, can cause cysts, tumors and other abnormalities of internal organs.
Surgical spaying is performed under general anesthesia. The procedure takes 20 to 40 minutes. The suture heals for about a week and can 1 to 5 cm long. The recovery period lasts 1-2 weeks.
At what age should cats be spayed?
There is no specific age limit for this procedure. If there are no contraindications the cat can be spayed starting from the age of 3 months up to 7 years. Many owners are wondering: at what age the spaying of cats is most effective? Veterinarians believe that the best period is when the cat is about 7 months old and certainly before the first heat. It is proved that cats spayed prior to the first heat have less risk of breast neoplasms (the risk of neoplasms including malignant is only 1%). With every other estrus the risk increases.
Some doctors practice early spaying (when the cat is only 2-3 months old). However, it is believed that spaying at such a young age can lead to a breach of the internal organs development. On the other hand, it is unwise to delay this procedure. In senior animals the recovery lasts longer and they tolerate anesthesia much worse. However, it is better to have a healthy senior cat than a chronically ill young animal. Before spaying a senior cat it should be carefully examined by a veterinarian, and pass laboratory tests of urine and blood.
Some owners inquire, at what age the spaying of cats doesn’t give positive results anymore. This procedure is effective as a preventive measure to combat pyometra and tumors of uterus and ovaries at any age. Any can may have this health troubles, and it doesn’t matter whether it was mated or never met a male cat before.
Risks and their minimization
Spaying is the most common operation performed in veterinary clinics, so most vets are experienced enough. Complications that occur after cat spaying are an exception to the rule. In most cases the procedure is safe and the pet is fully recovered in several weeks. However, certain risks do exist:
- Impairment of the cardiovascular system functions during anesthesia or in the process of anesthesia recovery. Chronically ill and senior animals are at risk. To prepare the cat for the surgery, it should be examined by a competent vet cardiologist and to undergo an echocardiogram.
- Inflammatory process may start as a result of the surgeon negligence (e.g., using a non-sterile instrument) or as a consequence of failure to follow vet’s recommendations (inconsistent use of antibiotics, failure in suture treatment). Spaying of cats at home often leads to inflammatory processes, as it is extremely difficult to to create the necessary conditions for abdominal surgery out of the operating room.
- Acute reaction to anesthesia is an absolutely unpredictable factor; animals disposed to allergies are at risk. To reduce the risk, it is desirable to undergo allergist examination and pay for the resuscitation specialist services, to control the procedure.
Even if the slightest symptoms of malaise are noticed you should call the vet performed the operation. No time should be wasted in hope that everything will get better somehow. It is better to disturb the doctor in vain than to miss the moment when the cat can be helped without serious surgical intervention.