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Spay and neuter: Health benefits to your cat

Sunday July 31st, 2011

If you haven’t heard it before, hear it now: spaying or neutering your cat is the best thing you can do for your pet’s health.

Spaying is the removal of a female cat’s ovaries and uterus; neutering is the removal of a male cat’s testicles. Spaying involves major surgery, and is performed via an incision made to the cat’s lower abdomen. Through this incision, the veterinarian gains access to the cat’s reproductive organs. Neutering consists of removing the testicles after making a small incision in the scrotum.

While these procedures may sound extreme, both surgeries are very routine and can be performed by a veterinarian on a cat that is as young as 8 weeks. Although most veterinarians prefer to perform the procedure on cats 5 months or older, this surgery is safe enough to perform on young kittens.

Spaying

By having your female cat spayed, she gains the following health benefits:

  • Your female cat is less likely to develop mammary gland tumors, which are most often cancerous. In fact, 90 percent of cats who develop mammary cancer die from the disease. Mammary tumor cancer is most easily prevented by spaying the cat before her first heat, which usually occurs around 6 months of age.
  • The possibility of developing pyometra, a serious infection that develops in the uterus, is completely eliminated with spaying.
  • The chance your cat might develop malignant tumors of the ovaries and uterus are eliminated with spaying.
  • Besides doing away with the likelihood that your cat will give birth to a litter of unwanted kittens, spaying also wipes out the possibility of your cat developing serious complications during the birthing process.
  • Regular heat cycles increase the amount of stress on your female cat’s body, making her more prone to a variety of other illnesses, such as respiratory disease, parasite infestation, and bacterial infection.

Neutering

Male cats also benefit health-wise from being neutered:

  • Male cats are no longer at risk for developing testicular cancer after they are neutered. Performing the surgery before 6 months of age provides the greatest health benefit.
  • Intact male cats are aggressive and fight with other males, increasing the likelihood of sustaining serious injuries. Neutering a male cat takes the fight out of him.
  • Because neutered males are less likely to battle with other cats, they are at less risk of contracting contagious and potentially fatal diseases, such as feline leukemia and feline AIDS.
  • Neutered males are less likely to stray from home, which reduces the possibility they will be struck by a car or killed by a predator.

If you want to keep your cats healthy, spay and neuter them. It’s well worth both the cost and the effort.

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