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Sterilization Of Cats: At What Age Are Animals Sterilized, Types Of Operations, Their Pros And Cons, Preparation And Consequences, Rehabilitation
Sterilization Of Cats: At What Age Are Animals Sterilized, Types Of Operations, Their Pros And Cons, Preparation And Consequences, Rehabilitation

Video: Sterilization Of Cats: At What Age Are Animals Sterilized, Types Of Operations, Their Pros And Cons, Preparation And Consequences, Rehabilitation

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Video: The Spay And Neuter Controversy - Everything YOU Need To Know! | | Pros u0026 Cons Of Neutering Your Pet 2023, February

Neutering cats: humane act or institutionalized cruelty

cat in bandage
cat in bandage

In developed countries, sterilization of stray animals, as well as pets that are not used in breeding, is common practice. Our approach to this problem is ambiguous, which causes lively polemics, sometimes flowing into serious verbal battles. This state of affairs is largely due to the disputants' lack of elementary knowledge about the subject of discussion and a subconscious desire to approach animals with "human standards", which, although it looks very humane, is in fact fundamentally wrong.


  • 1 What is sterilization, its difference from castration
  • 2 Arguments for and against the procedure

    • 2.1 Table: arguments against sterilization
    • 2.2 Table: reasons for the procedure
    • 2.3 Video: the pros and cons of sterilization
  • 3 Types and methods of surgical intervention in the reproductive function of cats

    • 3.1 Table: Main Types of Feline Reproductive Suppression
    • 3.2 Methods of the operation
    • 3.3 Surgery at home: pros and cons
    • 3.4 A little about the price
    • 3.5 Alternative sterilization methods
  • 4 When the decision is made: practical advice for owners

    • 4.1 Choosing the right time
    • 4.2 Preparation for surgery
    • 4.3 Aftercare

      4.3.1 Video: Caring for a cat at home after spaying

  • 5 Veterinarian comments on sterilization
  • 6 Reviews of cat owners about the operation

What is sterilization, its difference from castration

In simple terms, spaying a cat is a surgical operation that causes the animal to lose its ability to produce offspring.

A cat and seven newborn kittens
A cat and seven newborn kittens

Cats are very fertile

Sterilization should be distinguished from castration.

Castration is a veterinary operation to completely remove the genitals from animals, including female cats. There are 3 types of castration:

  • ovariectomy, or removal of the ovaries;
  • hysterectomy - removal of the uterus;
  • ovariohysterectomy, or removal of the ovaries along with the uterus.

As a rule, healthy young cats that have not yet given birth are cut out some of the ovaries, but in some cases, in order to avoid the development of feline gynecological problems, the uterus is also removed. But even if only the ovaries are removed, neutered cats stop in heat due to the cessation of egg production. As a result, all symptoms of sexual behavior, including annoying cat "songs", also end.

Those who have ever had the opportunity to observe the behavior of a cat during estrus, or even better - to be with such an animal in the same room 24 hours a day, know well how difficult (from all points of view) it is to endure the endless screams of a pet. I am sure that such people do not have a question about why sterilization is needed, since the answer to it is obvious: at least so that the cat and its owner will forever lose their problems with estrus.

When neutering cats, the fallopian tubes are simply ligated without partially or completely removing the internal genital organs. The ovaries and uterus remain, function normally, and continue to produce hormones. Therefore, sterilized individuals retain both sexual attraction and all instincts. They are able to mate, but already with a 100% probability they cannot bear offspring, since they become completely sterile.

The cat sits on the windowsill and hisses
The cat sits on the windowsill and hisses

After sterilization, the cat retains sexual desire, that is, estrus does not stop

If the cat has "access" to the cat, estrus turns into an additional problem: pregnancy and childbirth, which means a sacramental question of what to do with the "addition to the family."

My aunt, who has lived all her life in her own house in the circle of cats and dogs freely walking around the yard, has still retained a wonderful in her spontaneity approach to solving the problem: newborn kittens and puppies with an unwavering hand go into a bucket of water. In the old days, people probably did just that, but today it hardly makes sense to discuss the civilization of such a way of solving the problem. The other extreme. A colleague of mine, who has never had a cat or was going to get a pet, faced a serious ethical problem when her son brought in a month-old kitten. Someone threw the kid into a trash can, and on the street, by the way, it was twenty degrees below zero. The children heard a faint squeak and removed the half-living creature from the pile of rubbish. Needless to say, his parents did not raise a hand to send him back,and the cat suddenly found a home, although, we admit, not all such stories have the same happy ending.

Arguments for and against the procedure

Let's start with the arguments against that usually come from ardent opponents of sterilization.

Table: arguments against sterilization

Reasons not to neuter your cat Myth or reality
Sterilization is unnatural Reality. Under natural conditions, a cat lives on average no longer than five years and gives birth to about fifty kittens, 90% of which do not live to mature age.
Sterilization deprives the animal of the joy of motherhood Myth. Cats do not receive "joy" from motherhood (as well as from sex). Reproductive function in animals is nothing more than an instinct. If the hormones are silent, the cat is not sexually attracted, and therefore does not feel "unhappy."
Sterilization is painful, scary and threatens with unpredictable consequences Reality, and you need to be prepared for this. Any operation, especially one involving general anesthesia, is a risk. A lethal outcome is unlikely, but it cannot be completely ruled out, unfortunately, such cases are known.
The postoperative rehabilitation period is long and difficult Myth. If the operation was successful, after a few days the animal is completely back to normal.
The cat will become lazy, stop playing and hunt This possibility cannot be ruled out. Changes in hormonal levels can indeed lead to some kind of behavior correction. Breeders and veterinarians unanimously claim that the cat will remain playful and active, but to maintain these qualities in his pet, he needs to pay more attention, especially in the first time after the operation, when there is a "readjustment" of habits and priorities.
The cat will get fat It can become a reality if the cat's diet and lifestyle are not adjusted. The realization of the sexual instinct in an animal is associated with high energy costs, and after sterilization this energy remains unrealized.
The cat will become aggressive Rather a myth. People have not fully studied the nature of aggression in animals. It has been proven that pain and fear can trigger anger attacks. If the cat initially did not have mental problems, if she feels comfortable in the family and trusts the owner, if the animal receives enough attention in preparation for the operation and in the first days after it, the likelihood of a sharp change in the character of the cat for the worse is very small. But we still know too little about the psyche of animals to completely exclude such an option.
Sterilization leads to urinary incontinence and increases the risk of developing urolithiasis Many veterinarians confirm this fact, others, on the contrary, refute it, referring to statistics and their own experience. We will proceed from the assumption that the probability of these risks is not excluded.

So, we see that not all arguments of ardent opponents of sterilization are outright nonsense.

But at the same time, the entire civilized world has long made a choice in favor of conducting such operations. Apparently, the arguments "for" still outweigh the arguments "against".

Table: reasons for the procedure

Reasons to neuter your cat Myth or reality
Sterilized cats live longer Reality. According to statistics, the difference in life expectancy between sterilized and fertile cats is 3-4 years in favor of the former. Regular childbirth accelerates the aging process of the animal, and sexual activity often causes the animal to get into various troubles (however, the latter is more important for cats than for cats).
Empty heat is bad for your cat's health Reality. Unrealized sexual instinct in cats increases the likelihood of developing various pathologies, including uterine pyometra and cancers of the reproductive organs.
Taking hormonal antisex drugs is dangerous for a cat Reality. Prolonged and uncontrolled use of such drugs disrupts the hormonal background of the animal, which often leads to tumors and hyperplasia of the uterus, ovarian cysts, as well as pyometra and hydrometer.
The cat will become calm and affectionate Rather a myth. The character of a cat (like a person) is determined by many factors, and hormonal levels are unlikely to play a decisive role here.
The cat will stop tagging, spoiling furniture and dirtying Myth. Sterilization stops only those aspects of the cat's behavior that are directly related to the realization of the sexual instinct. Bad temper and bad habits are from another area. It is not cats that mark the territory, but cats, and sterilization does not solve this problem.
The smell of cat urine after sterilization will be less pungent. Myth. Foul urine odors in cats can be caused by various reasons. Sterilization will most likely not fix the problem.
The cat will stop causing allergies Myth. It is generally accepted that spayed cats are less allergenic than fertile cats, but this “less” is not enough for an allergic person to keep such an animal in the house. The body of cats releases more than a dozen allergens, and their number and ratio are always very individual. A person can react to one cat and not react to another, but it is definitely impossible to expect that sterilization will make a particular animal hypoallergenic.

Video: the pros and cons of sterilization

Types and methods of surgical intervention in the reproductive function of cats

There are four types of surgical operations, depending on what method is used to suppress reproductive function.

Cat on the operating table
Cat on the operating table

Traditionally, sterilization and castration are performed surgically

Table: Main types of suppression of reproductive function in cats

Type of intervention Operation name The essence of the operation Benefits disadvantages
Castration Ovariectomy Removal of the ovaries It is considered optimal for young and nulliparous cats. Sex hormones are secreted only by the ovaries, so their removal completely solves the problem of a possible pregnancy and stops estrus. The operation is relatively safe, the incision is small. The risk of developing purulent and other diseases of the uterus remains
Ovariohysterectomy Removal of the uterus and ovaries Recommended for mature animals and for medical reasons. Many experts prefer this method according to the principle “no organ - no problem” (“useless” uterus can still become a focus of various diseases). Removal of an extra organ complicates the operation, increases the risk of infection, inflammation and other postoperative complications
Hysterectomy Uterus removal Completely solves the problem of possible pregnancy and stops the cat's estrus It is difficult to tolerate and is considered the most dangerous in terms of possible complications, therefore it is used extremely rarely
Sterilization Tubal occlusion Ligation of the fallopian tubes (excludes the possibility of conception while maintaining the functions of the reproductive organs) The hormonal background does not change, which means that there are no risks of gaining excess weight, changes in behavior and other surprises associated with the restructuring of the body. It is considered as humane as possible. The leaks persist, respectively, the animal experiences discomfort and with its cries causes inconvenience to the owners. Postoperative risks are no less than with castration. Makes sense to prevent pregnancy in cats if they have uncontrolled contact with the cat, but, in fact, is a half-hearted solution to the problem.

Operation methods

Operations for neutering or neutering cats are performed in one of four possible ways:

  1. Classic surgical operation "along the white line of the abdomen" (the incision is made in the center between the muscles). This method is applicable for both oophorectomy and ovariohysterectomy.
  2. Removal of the ovaries through the side suture. It assumes minimal trauma, therefore it is used, as a rule, for accelerated sterilization of stray animals, when there is no one to provide postoperative care for the "patient".
  3. Removal of the ovaries with a blunt hook. It assumes a minimum suture size (about 1 cm) and, accordingly, a shorter rehabilitation period (5–7 days versus a full week with classical oophorectomy). The main disadvantage of the method is that it is carried out blindly, in a “groping manner”. In such a situation, a lot depends on the qualifications and experience of the surgeon.
  4. Laparoscopy is a high-tech operation that allows you to remove both the ovaries and the uterus through small punctures of 0.5 cm, while, unlike the previous method, during laparoscopy, the surgeon sees everything he does. The advantages of this method include minimal trauma and a decrease in the likelihood of infection, the absence of sutures and, accordingly, an ultra-short recovery period. But there are also disadvantages. This is a much higher cost, in addition, the procedure requires expensive equipment and personnel who know how to handle it. Most of our veterinary clinics cannot afford such costs.

    Laparoscopic sterilization
    Laparoscopic sterilization

    Laparoscopic surgery is performed in a gentle way (through several punctures), and everything that happens is broadcast on the monitor

Surgery at home: pros and cons

Home health care is a tempting bonus offered by many clinics today, including veterinary clinics. Meeting the wishes of the client, today even surgeons are ready to go home together with anesthesiologists. Of course, it is hardly possible to conduct laparoscopy on the road, but the usual surgical sterilization of cats in this way can definitely be done. But whether it is necessary is a big question. The stress in this case is minimal, but the risks increase by an order of magnitude.

The negative aspects of home surgeries are as follows:

  1. Ideal sterility, which is the norm when performing an operation in a good clinic, is almost impossible to achieve at home. Hence - the risk of infection with all the ensuing consequences.
  2. Working in an unfamiliar and obviously far from ideal environment is an additional inconvenience for the doctor, which means it is a factor that negatively affects the success of the operation.
  3. In case of any complications that may arise during the procedure or at the time the animal comes out of anesthesia, the doctor will not be able to quickly and adequately respond and perform all resuscitation actions (the clinic has everything you need for this).
Operating veterinary clinic
Operating veterinary clinic

Sterility, as in the operating room, is difficult to ensure at home

If, in spite of everything, the owner prefers to take the risk and call a doctor at home, you should definitely take precautions, namely:

  • make sure that the surgeon has the necessary qualifications, licenses, equipment and drugs;
  • get confirmation that the doctor has an agreement with a nearby clinic about the readiness to immediately accept him with the animal in case of any complications;
  • do not let go of the doctor until the cat has come out of anesthesia and has begun to respond more or less adequately to what is happening (this may take several hours);
  • before the doctor leaves, receive clear and understandable instructions from him about his further actions in relation to the “patient”.
Cat in the arms of the veterinarian
Cat in the arms of the veterinarian

A visit to the clinic is always stressful for the animal

A little about the price

The cost of the operation depends not only on its type and method of performing (although, of course, these points are also very important, for example, prices for suture material range from several tens of rubles for an ordinary surgical suture to hundreds and even thousands for a self-absorbable suture). Unfortunately or fortunately, subjective factors will be decisive in this issue - the qualifications of the surgeon, the status of the clinic and even its location (for the same service in the capital, most likely, they will ask for a higher price than in the outback). Calling a doctor at home is an option that will also cost money. In a word, the cost of the operation can fluctuate greatly, but in the most general terms, it is necessary to adjust for 2,000-3,000 rubles (in the case of laparoscopy - at least five thousand).

Veterinary office
Veterinary office

The cost of the operation largely depends on the level and location of the clinic

Alternative sterilization methods

In addition to surgical sterilization methods, there are several alternative methods of suppression of reproductive function in cats. They are used if there are contraindications to the operation, as well as if the owner does not want to resort to the services of a surgeon or wants to keep the cat able to give birth.

Alternative methods of sterilization include:

  1. Medication. In fact, we are talking about the usual use of hormonal contraceptives, temporarily, for 3-6 months, suppressing sexual function. Such drugs have many side effects, so they can be used only in extreme cases and only after a comprehensive medical examination of the animal.
  2. Chemical. The method consists in the introduction of an animal implant under the skin, which allows to block the reproductive function for a longer period - from one to two years. For this purpose in Europe and we use the drug Suprelorin. The safety of the procedure for the health of the cat remains in doubt. The disadvantages of the method include its high cost - from 6,500 to 11,000 rubles, depending on the desired duration.
  3. Radiation. The method consists in irradiation of the cat's ovaries in order to stop their functioning. It is used very rarely due to the harmful effects of radiation on the body of a healthy cat.

Suprelorin is used for chemical sterilization

When the decision is made: practical advice for owners

If the question "to be or not to be" in relation to sterilization has been resolved positively, it remains to clarify only two important points: when and how.

Choosing the right time

Experts differ on the optimal age for sterilization. Most veterinarians believe that spaying a cat is best after it reaches puberty, but before first heat. Usually we are talking about the age from seven to nine months.

Young cat lies on its back
Young cat lies on its back

It is better to sterilize before the first heat

The widespread opinion that a cat “for health” needs to give birth at least once is a delusion. The less hormonal "experiences" falls on the animal's share, the better.

It is not recommended to sterilize small kittens, as some breeders of breeding animals do, fearing unauthorized breeding of the breed, since in this case the process of normal maturation of the animal is disrupted, which can lead to unpredictable results.

With regard to the possibility of neutering adult cats, the difficulty here is only that general anesthesia in adulthood is much more difficult to tolerate than in young. The general principle is this: up to seven years old for a cat, sterilization is less dangerous than empty heat, but later the decision must be made individually.

Elderly cat
Elderly cat

It is dangerous to spay cats over seven years old

Another controversial issue is the admissibility of an operation during estrus. The classical approach classifies estrus as a direct contraindication for sterilization. But some experts recommend not to waste time, because in the absence of "realization" estrus can take a protracted nature and resume with interruptions of just a few days, wasting the animal in vain and not allowing the owners to "seize the right moment."

Neutering a cat immediately after childbirth has no medical contraindications, but it can adversely affect lactation. Therefore, it is carried out 2–3 months after giving birth, as soon as the cat has stopped feeding.

Cat feeds kittens
Cat feeds kittens

Sterilization can adversely affect lactation

Preparing for surgery

There is no need to prepare the cat for sterilization in a special way. All you need from the owner is:

  • give the animal all the necessary vaccinations at least two months in advance (and, as always, deworm the animal before vaccination);
  • make sure that the cat is absolutely healthy (it is better to show it to the veterinarian the day before);
  • do not feed the pet for 12 hours before the procedure.
Vaccinating the cat
Vaccinating the cat

Vaccinations should be done at least two months before surgery

On my own behalf, I note that the main preparatory work before sterilization is the choice of a clinic and a surgeon. Many cat owners, after reading popular scientific articles, begin to discuss the methods of the operation with the doctor and recommend using the one that they consider best. This approach is fundamentally wrong, because the key to the success of the operation is the surgeon's qualifications, not high technology. Find a specialist, using the recommendations of friends, and trust his experience. Or look for a clinic that specializes in your chosen method of surgery, but never impose your opinion on the doctor.

Formally, sterilization should be preceded by a full examination of the animal, including a biochemical blood test, ultrasound of the kidneys and liver, and an electrocardiogram. If the doctor before the operation does not warn about the need for such procedures, you should think about choosing another clinic.

Many years of experience in communicating with veterinarians suggests that not good doctors, but prestigious clinics usually insist on the need to pass expensive tests, and the motivation for such a policy is far from sincere concern for the health of the animal.

Measuring blood pressure in a cat
Measuring blood pressure in a cat

Formally, sterilization should be preceded by a comprehensive examination

Follow-up care

The first hours after surgery are critical, as they are associated with the release of the animal from anesthesia. This condition can last up to three days. During this period, it is advisable not to leave the cat on its own and protect it from contact with other animals.

The cat comes out of anesthesia
The cat comes out of anesthesia

Recovery from anesthesia can take a long time

In the future, the rehabilitation period is reduced to the care of the seam. It is very important to ensure that the animal does not lick the wound. To avoid this problem, cats often wear a special bandage or collar, although not all animals are able to accept the latter option. If the operation was performed by a hook or laparoscopic method, no wound treatment is required, in other cases the suture should be lubricated with an antiseptic daily.

To avoid inflammation, the cat should receive an antibiotic injection after spaying. The first injection is given immediately, the second doctor may suggest the owner to do it on his own in two days.

Depending on the type of surgery and the condition of the animal, the sutures are removed after 7–10 days (this is not necessary when using a self-absorbable suture). After that, it is considered that the rehabilitation period has ended successfully.

Cat in a postoperative bandage
Cat in a postoperative bandage

The bandage is used to prevent the cat from licking the seam

All that remains for the owner of a sterilized cat is to adjust the diet of his pet and help him find a way out of unspent energy. Most cat food manufacturers make special low-calorie forms for spayed animals.

If the cat eats natural food, fish should be completely eliminated from its diet, as well as the intake of foods rich in calcium, magnesium and phosphorus should be limited.

Cat eats fish
Cat eats fish

It is undesirable to give fish to sterilized cats

Video: caring for a cat at home after sterilization

Veterinarian comments on sterilization

Testimonials from cat owners about the operation

If the owner does not plan to breed kittens, the cat must be spayed. Such an operation is not absolutely safe, it can cause complications and even lead to some negative changes in the condition of the pet. But all these risks can be minimized if you turn to a good specialist and follow all his recommendations. And the advantages of the procedure are obvious: a spayed cat lives longer, feels better and does not create constant problems for the owners with endless estrus and uncontrolled appearance of offspring.

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