For many years, we were taught that cats had to be at least one year old to be spayed or neutered. Today, that mindset is changing. The American Veterinary Medical Association now endorses the practice of spaying or neutering as early as the age of two months or a weight of two pounds. If you are adopting an older pet, one of the first things you will need to know is if your pet has been fixed or not. Asking your veterinarian is of course, the simplest, most reliable way but you can check for yourself as follows:
- If you have a male cat, it’s usually pretty easy to tell. An unaltered male’s testicles should be visible when you look under his tail. Another telltale sign is the pungent odor of his urine.
- If you have a female cat, she won’t be quite as easy to read. One way to tell is to have your vet shave her belly. If she’s been spayed, she should have a small ½” scar, but sometimes even this is hard to discern. Your vet may recommend a spay if they are unsure.
The Consequences of an Unspayed Cat.
If it turns out your female cat has not been spayed, you should schedule her surgery as soon as possible. Spaying involves removing her uterus and ovaries and is done under general anesthesia. A few other points to consider:
- Cats can be spayed at any age as long as they are considered healthy. If you have reservations, please talk to your vet.
- Cats can be spayed while they are in heat although the surgery is a little more complicated.
- Cats are polyestrus; they come into heat early in the year and continue to cycle in and out, every three weeks, until they are bred.
- It is not uncommon for un-spayed cats to suffer from ovarian cysts and uterine infections due to constantly fluctuating hormone levels.
- Spaying your cat will reduce the risk of mammary cancer as she ages.
- Spaying your cat will not impact her ability to grow and does not cause your cat to get fat.
- Unspayed cats might call loudly, mark the house with urine, and do everything they can to get out and find a mate. If she does find one, odds are good she will get pregnant.
- According to The Humane Society of the United States, three to four million dogs and cats are euthanized in animal shelters every year simply because there aren’t enough homes.
- One unspayed cat and her offspring can be responsible for over 11 million new kittens over a 9-year lifespan.
Better behavior, better health, less roaming and less stress on the current cat overpopulation situation are all great reasons to consider getting your cat spayed. Cost can sometimes be a concern; fortunately, there are organizations that can help. Call your local human society or animal shelter and ask about a reduced or low-cost sterilization. Online organizations such as Spay USA at www.SpayUSA.org can also work with you to get a low cost certificate or a referral to a participating clinic. Just reach out and ask for help. There are plenty of organizations out there who want to do nothing more than that.