If you have a female cat, getting her spayed is an important part of responsible ownership. It prevents unwanted litters of kittens, which is of increasing concern with the larger numbers of homeless cats in shelters and is a particular risk with cats who are allowed to roam outdoors.
Although this is the most obvious and prominent reason to spay, it's not the only one. It also prevents cats from suffering diseases of the ovaries and uterus and can reduce and control various behavioural problems. Here's what to expect when your cat goes to the vet to be spayed, and what you need to know afterwards.
The right age
It's generally recommended that female cats are spayed at about five to seven months of age, but this should be discussed with your vet. Other factors, such as the cat's size, may come into play when working out a suitable age. This is because one of the main concerns is that anaesthetics can cause complications in very young, small cats.
Once your cat is the right age, don't delay. Cats reach sexual maturity very young, so putting off the operation any longer than necessary means a serious risk of pregnancy.
What to do beforehand
The night before the scheduled surgery, you should stop giving your cat food. Anaesthetic can cause an animal to vomit, which comes with serious consequences while they're unconscious. An empty stomach means no choking. Make sure water is still available to drink, and if your vet advises you differently, always follow their instructions. It's possible that your cat may have a condition that makes it unsafe to withhold food.
On the day of the surgery, arrive promptly to ensure everything can go ahead as planned.
What to expect
Once you've left your cat at the vet surgery, she'll be examined and made ready for operating. She'll then be given anaesthetic.
While neutering a male cat is an extremely quick process, usually taking just a few minutes, spaying a female cat takes a bit longer as it's a more complex operation. That said, it's normally completed in less than thirty minutes.
After the operation, the vet will keep her in for a little while for observation, making sure she comes out of the anaesthetic without problems. She'll be given pain medication and will soon be ready to return home.
When your cat gets back home, she'll still be groggy from the anaesthetic, so make life easy for her and ensure she has access to a litter tray and a drink of water without having to go far.
In some situations, you may have been given extra pain medication, which should be given according to the vet's instructions.
Keep a close eye on her, but she should recover fairly quickly and be back to normal before you know it. Contact a vet for more information.