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Optimal Age to Spay and Neuter Your Cat

Optimal Age to Spay and Neuter Your Cat

Preventive care is an important part of ensuring your pet's lifelong health. This includes vaccinations, parasite prevention as well as sterilization. Our Egg Harbor Township vets talk about the importance of having your pet fixed and the ideal age to spay and neuter your cat.

What is Spay and Neuter Surgery For Cats?

When a pet is 'fixed', it usually refers to their sterilization. Even more specifically it would be the spaying of female cats and dogs and neutering of male dogs and cats.

When female cats are sterilized, the vet will remove the entirety of their ovaries, fallopian tubes and uterus.

Sterilization of male cats is usually done by removing the testes although in some cases a vasectomy can be performed, removing only the vas deferens which conduct the sperm from the testes is removed.

What is the Best Age to Spay or Neuter Cats?

When it comes to spaying or neutering cats, the spay and neuter clinics generally follow the same guidelines.

Female cats can enter their first heat cycle and become pregnant as young as 4 months of age.

Male cats also become able to father kittens at around this age and are capable of impregnating any number of fertile female cats he encounters.

The spay and neuter clinics in the Egg Harbor Township generally recommend having your cat fixed by the time they reach 5 months of age.

Getting your cat fixed at this young age allows your kitten time to grow while providing your cat with the possible health benefits listed above, curbing undesirable behaviors such as spraying before the behavior becomes established, and preventing the birth of countless unwanted kittens. At the age of 5 months old, cats are able to recover from spay and neuter surgery pretty quickly and will be back to themselves in no time.

What can you do to help your cat through recovery?

When your female dog or cat is spayed, their uterus and ovaries are removed through a small incision in the abdominal wall so that your pet is no longer able to become pregnant.

Typically when a male pet is neutered their the testicles are removed in order to prevent the production of sperm. This means that they will no longer be able to father puppies or kittens.

Following these surgeries, your pet will need a little extra love and attention to ensure that they recover well.

Caring for the Incision Site

You should take precautions to ensure that your cat will be unable to lick the incision site. Your vet may recommend an e-collar or recovery suit (surgical onesie) to block your pet from being able to reach the area

Female pets will have a mid-line incision in their abdomen, male dogs have an incision just above the scrotum and male cats will have two incisions, one on either side of the scrotum.

You should check this each day. There should be no sign of redness or oozing, and swelling should be minimal. In some cases, males may appear as if they still have testicles. This swelling is normal and should gradually reduce throughout the recovery period.

If you see any signs of infection contact your vet or local spay and neuter clinic for assistance.

Having the Sutures Removed

Most pets will have internal sutures that are absorbable, with the outer layer of skin held together with water-soluble surgical glue. You will not need to wash the sutures or apply ointment, this area should be able to heal well on its own.

Follow the post-op instructions provided by your vet or cat's spay and neuter clinic.

If your pet happens to have external sutures or staples they will need to be removed at the end of the recovery period. It's a good idea to book your pet's follow-up appointment when you pick them up on surgery day.

Monitoring Your Cat's Activity

while not every pet is extremely active you should still keep in mind the fact that your cat will not be able to run around or play for 2 weeks.

Stretching and strenuous activity could cause the wound to open, disrupting the healing process and possibly leading to infection. So, that means no running, jumping, playing or swimming. Dogs should be kept on leash when outdoors and cats should be kept inside.

Be sure to avoid bathing your cat during this recovery period.

Female pets that were spayed while in heat should be kept well away from male animals that could still be attracted to them.

Ensuring That Your Cat Receives Nutritional Meals

Your animal will be given general anesthesia as part of the surgical process. When your pet first comes out of neuter and spay surgery the after-effects of general anesthesia can leave them feeling a little nauseous and lethargic.

Expect your dog or cat to gradually recover their normal appetite about 24 hours after surgery. Begin by offering smaller portions at first before moving to full-size meals.

If after 24 hours your pet is still lethargic or has symptoms such as vomiting or diarrhea, call your vet immediately for further instructions.

Signs of Potential Complications

Cat and dog spay and neutering are common veterinary surgeries that are generally considered safe for pets, nonetheless, complications may potentially occur. You're pet's incision site will be a little red (same as surgery day or less) but should not get worse. If your pet's incision site does not show signs of healing, contact the spay and neuter clinic as soon as possible.

Symptoms that typically indicate complications are:

    • Lethargy or lack of normal energy more than 24 hours after surgery
    • Discharge or bleeding from the incision site
    • Pale gums
    • Vomiting
    • Diarrhea
    • Trouble urinating
    • Heavy breathing, panting
    • Open incision site
    • Pet sitting or laying in an unusual position
    • Restless behavior
    • Shaking or trembling
    • Constant or repeated whining
    • Relentless attempts to lick or chew incision site
    • Hiding or other unusual behavior

Recovery Time for Pets Following Spay or Neuter Surgery

The recovery process for your cat will depend on a number of factors including their size, age, weight and breed. Usually, cats are able to return to all activities in about 2 weeks if there are no complications.

Be sure to follow the post-op instructions provided by your vet and contact your spay and neuter clinic in Egg Harbor Township right away if your pet is taking longer than expected to recover from their neuter or spay surgery.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Have you brought a new cat or kitten home? Contact our Egg Harbor Township vets to schedule their vaccinations, spay or neuter and other preventive care today.

Always Welcoming New Patients

At Newkirk Family Veterinarians, we always accept new patients into our veterinary family. Our veterinarians are passionate about the health and well-being of Egg Harbor Township pets. Contact us today to book your pet's first appointment. 

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