Many owners choose to get their cat spayed, and it's a safe and common procedure. Our simple guide to spaying explains what it is, how it works, and what effects there can be.
Getting your female cat spayed is an important decision. It can positively affect her health and well-being but also has a number of potential complications and repercussions.
What is spaying?
Spaying is the process of sterilizing your female cat. In male cats, it's called neutering, although sometimes this term is used to refer to the sterilization process in both males and females.
How does spaying work?
Spaying must be conducted by a vet or other qualified professional and entails your cat undergoing an operation. It then prevents your female cat—also called a queen—from producing eggs which could be fertilized by a male cat, as well as stopping their body emitting sex hormones which attract males.
When can I get my cat spayed?
Whether male or female, you can get your cat sterilized around puberty. For queens, this is at six to seven months old, although it can be done safely from the age of three months. Female kittens tend to have their first heat cycle when they're six months old; you'll notice a change in their behavior as they meow a lot, rub up against your legs or furniture, and adopt a mating posture whenever their back is touched.
Should I get my cat spayed?
It's up to you whether you decide to get your queen spayed, or whether you want her to have kittens in the future. There are a number of benefits to sterilizing your cat; the most important is that it can significantly increase her lifespan.
Spaying can also:
- Prevent unwanted litters
- Reduce the likelihood of your queen fighting with other cats
- Reduce the likelihood of STIs spreading
- Limit the number of stray cats which occur with unwanted litters
- Reduce the symptoms of being in heat, which can be noisy and irritating for owners
How will spaying affect my cat's diet?
As soon as your cat has been spayed, you'll start to notice changes in her behavior—including her feeding habits. Her appetite can increase by 20-25%, but her actual energy expenditure reduces by 30%. This means it's very easy for your queen to overeat and store the extra energy as fat. If you decide to spay your cat while she's still a kitten, she will still be growing and therefore need food that supports this without encouraging her to put on weight unnecessarily. Specific food, formulated for sterilized kittens, is one of the best things to feed her at this point.
What complications can there be with spaying?
The biggest complications associated with spaying come from the potential weight your cat can gain, which in turn can lead to serious health conditions. Diabetes and joint disease are both linked to obesity in cats, while sedentary or indoor cats can end up with digestive issues due to a lack of movement and lots of time spent grooming themselves.
Deciding to get your cat spayed is a decision, which can positively affect her health and home life, but it does have long-lasting effects. If you'd like further advice, speak to your vet who'll be able to advise you on the best course of action.