species: click on a picture:
Cat Spay and Neuter
(See the surgery photos below)
You can find more about cats here
The medical term is ovariohysterectomy.
Ovariohysterectomy (OHE) is the term applied to the
surgical procedure involved in the removal of the uterus
and ovaries of a female by abdominal surgery. The common
terms used in describing this procedure are “spaying” and
“neutering”. The main objectives for doing this surgical
procedure are to eliminate the heat period in the female
cat or dog and prevent unwanted kittens or puppies from
being added to the population problem. Although the ability
to reproduce is eliminated by just removing the uterus, the
ovaries also need to be removed in order to prevent the
nuisance caused by the “heat” periods.
There is no evidence that a pet suffers from any
personality or emotional harm by having their ovaries
removed. The uterus is also removed to insure that it
does not become a source of infection over a period of
time. See Pyometra. If the surgeon simply tied
or obstructed the Fallopian tubes (the channel where the
eggs must pass into the uterus) in order to make the female
dog or cat sterile, she would still come into heat, attract
males, and attempt to breed. Experience has shown
that the best procedure is to perform a complete
Most cats are spayed between 5 and 8 months of age.
Should veterinarians do early neutering in their veterinary
hospitals? This is a question that is likely up to the
individual veterinarian. Since reproductive capability can
occur as early as 4 months in the cat and 6 months in the
dog it is important to neuter prepuberally.
Research at the University of Florida has compared
puppies and kittens neutered early (7 weeks) from
those neutered prepuberally but later (7 months) to
those that remained surgically intact.
• Growth plate closure
– Both groups of puppies and kittens neutered prepuberally
had delayed physeal closure compared to the intact control
animals. Longer radial and ulnar length was significantly
different in male puppies neutered at both ages and in
female puppie neutered at 7 weeks. The differences were
similar but not significant in kitten. Gonadal hormone,
facilitate maturation of physeal cartilage. Early neutering
does not stunt growth but actually may result in increased
long bone length because the absence of gonadal hormones
and the resultant delayed physeal closure. Some
veterinarians have suggested that early neutering will
predispose to physeal fractures (fractures through the
growth plates), however neutering at the usual time is also
prepuberal and delays physeal closure.
• Growth rate – No
• Food intake – No
• Back fat depth – No
• Body fat and weight – Neutered cats were similar in this
category but sexually intact cats weighed less and had less
• Urethral function –
Urethral pressure profilometry showed no adverse effects.
Male cats neutered at 7 weeks, at 7 months and the sexually
intact cats had similar urethral diameters at the end of
• External genitalia –
In dogs, the external genitalia of the “early” neutered
animals were infantile. No problems with perivulvar
dermatitis or vaginitis were noted. In cats, the external
genitalia of the “early” neutered kittens were also
infantile however, the problems with separation of the
balanoprepucial folds noted in earlier literature was not
evident. The penis in each cat could be exteriorized
indicating the balanoprepucial fold had separated.
• Behavior – Lethargy
was not seen in any neutered group. The sexually intact
cats showed greater aggression and fewer “demonstrations of
There are several techniques for accomplishing general
anesthesia in pediatric patients, but there are special
considerations that should receive the attention of the
patient is anesthetized and the fur is removed at the
incision is made through the skin of the lower abdomen and
is deepened to the muscle wall.
ovaries (1) and the body of the uterus (2) are exposed and
vessels and body of the uterus are ligated the uterus is
excised just below the forceps.
surgical area is examined thoroughly for any sign of
bleeding the operative site is closed in layers. The
peritoneum and abdominal muscles and subcutaneous tissues
are closed. The skin sutures are in place and once healing
has occured are removed in 8 to 12 days
recovers in a warm cage
There are birth
control pills which can be used in cats, but they can have
serious unwanted side effects such as the development of
diabetes mellitus and uterine infections.
The major advantages of having the surgery done are as
• During the heat cycle there are numerous behavior
problems that may develop. Females in heat will actively
search out male cats and may attempt to escape from the
house or yard, putting them in the danger of traffic,
fights with other animals, etc. Often there is a sudden
influx of male cats around the home and yard. The howling
at 2 a.m. will affect your behavior as well as your cat’s.
In addition, unspayed females may spray urine when they are
heat. This can be difficult to stop, and it is highly
recommended that such cats are spayed as part of the
• The nuisance of the heat period is eliminated.
• The heartbreak associated with disposal of unwanted
kittens or puppies is eliminated. Newspapers, radio, and
television commonly feature articles about pet
overpopulation. They stress the fact that too many kittens
are produced every year and that there just are not enough
potential owners to go around.
• The risks and stresses associated with repeated
pregnancies is eliminated.
• The chances for mammary cancer are reduced. Mammary
cancer is the third most common cancer in cats.
Reproductive hormones are one of the primary causes of
mammary cancer in the cat. Cats who have been spayed have a
40-60% lower risk of developing mammary cancer than those
who have not been spayed.
• The possibility of uterine and ovarian disease in the
older animal is eliminated. Unspayed cats may develop a
severe uterine disease called pyometra. With this disorder,
bacteria enter the uterus and it becomes filled with pus.
The normal 6-inch long, thin horns of the uterus enlarge to
10 inches long and can become the diameter of a human
thumb. Undetected, this condition is almost always fatal.
As can be seen from our discussion, an
ovariohysterectomy eliminates many medical and behavioral
problems. In fact, in many cats, an OHE probably adds years
to their lives or at least provides them with a more
comfortable, less stressful life. The OHE does its part in
pet overpopulation, but you, as the owner of an individual
cat, should also view it as a way to increase the length
and quality of your pet’s life with you.
• Should she have a litter before an
ovariohysterectomy is performed?
No. It makes no difference in personality, disposition, or
intelligence whether she has a litter or not.
• Will she become fat and lazy after the surgery?
No. Becoming fat and lazy are associated with
caloric intake and inactivity. Watching what and how much
you feed and keeping exercise levels up will go a long way
in preventing obesity.
• How old should she be before the surgery is
She should be at least 5-6 months old. The surgery should
be done prior to the first “heat” periods. To reduce risks,
surgery should not be performed while she is in heat.
Another term is castration. In this surgery
the doctor makes an incision in front of the scrotum and
through that incision accesses each testicle. The
fibrous coverings of the testicles are incised and each
testicle is removed after securely ligating the blood
vessels that attach to each testicle. The benefits of
having a cat neutered are well documented. And to simply do
a vasectomy to render the male sterile would not alleviate
the scent marking, desire to breed, territorial defense and
other testosterone driven behaviors.
Castration may also be indicated for:
• Some behavior problems
• Certain types of prostate disease
• Tumors in the testicles
• Some metabolic disorders
• Other types of tumors, such as those affected by
The cat is
anesthetized and placed on his side on the surgery
table. The surgical area from the anus to below the
scrotum is clipped free of fur. Then the area is
scrubbed with antiseptic soap and an antiseptic solution is
sprayed on the area. The scrotal skin is incised and the
testicle is exposed. There is almost no bleeding during a
cat neuter procedure. The testicle is pulled from the
scrotum and the spermatic cord with its blood vessels is in
view for the ligating procedure that prevents bleeding.
After that an antibiotic is applied to the surgical
area. The scrotal skin closes the incision itself so
no skin sutures are needed. The cat goes home the
same day and acts as if nothing ever happened!