What’s the Difference Between Cat Desexing, Neutering, Castration and Spaying?
While people commonly use and understand these terms interchangeably, technically speaking, desexing is the general term for the ‘fixing’ of a male or female kitten’s potential to bear young through the surgical removal of their reproductive system.
Spaying, (or ovariohysterectomy in vet-speak) is the removal of a female animal’s reproductive organs, while Castration (also known as an orchiectomy), is the removal of a male’s testicles.
In surgical terms, spaying is a considerably more complex operation, involving removal of both the uterus and ovaries, and so requiring incision into the abdominal wall. Removal of the male testicles via castration is obviously a less invasive surgery.
How Long Will it Take My Cat to Recover After Desexing?
Because spaying is a far more complex procedure than neutering, recovery times are naturally longer for female kittens, and most require some form of post-operative pain medication for a period of up to 3 days after their surgery.
Will My Cat Require Any Special Treatment While In Recovery?
In almost all cases, your kitty will be ready to return home on the day of their operation, as soon as the effects of the anaesthesia have abated.
Desexing animals will usually require some form of post-surgical pain medication. Some female cats may also be required to wear an ‘elizabethan collar’ to prevent them from aggravating the incision for a period up to 10 days afterwards.
During this period you are advised to keep your female kitten relatively inactive and in a quiet, stress-free environment.
However, at Clyde Veterinary Hospital we make every attempt to hide the absorbable stitches to avoid the need for a collar in the case of most cats.
While male kittens tend to bounce back from neutering quicker than their female counterparts, you should ideally keep a close eye on your cat after their desexing procedure, and attempt to keep them as quiet as possible – avoiding any sort of strenuous sort of play or exercise for a period of usually no more than 5 days after desexing.
What Are The Benefits of Desexing a Kitten?
The reduced potential for unwanted pregnancies leading to stray or homeless cats is obviously one of the core benefits of having your kitten desexed early.
Research shows that neutered male cats have a significantly reduced tendency to roam their neighbourhood – and when they do, they don’t tend to stray as far from home. Neutered male cats also tend to display fewer ‘territorial’ behaviours such as fighting with other males or ‘spraying’ to mark out their territory.
Female cats cease to experience their regular heat cycles once spayed, leading to a reduction in the signs of irritability that usually accompany them.
Desexing has also been shown to significantly reduce the risk of reproductive organ and mammary cancers prostate disorders and fistulas and statistics show it can result in an increased lifespan for your cat as a result.
Is There Any Risk Associated with Having My Cat Desexed?
Desexing is a surgery which must be performed under anaesthetic, and any anaesthetic procedure carries with it a small degree of risk. At Clyde Veterinary Hospital, we undertake extensive pre-anaesthetic blood and intra-operative fluid therapy to ensure the safest possible anaesthetic and recovery
It’s normal for cats to experience a period of drowsiness after anaesthetic which may last up to a couple of days but is usually significantly less. This is not a cause for concern, but you should take care to keep an eye on your kitty during this period as slips or falls can occur due to their impaired mobility.
Will Desexing Affect My Cat’s Personality?
Overall, you should not notice any significant changes in the nature or behaviour of your cat after desexing, save for a reduction in the problem behaviours mentioned above.
Can a Cat be Spayed While In Heat?
Yes, spaying a female cat (and indeed most ferrets or small mammals) is possible whilst they are in heat.
Are There Any Potential Concerns with Spaying a Cat While Pregnant?
It is certainly possible to have your cat spayed during pregnancy, although this obviously results in the termination of the pregnancy. As a surgery it is no more invasive than a regular spay procedure – although the later stage the pregnancy is, the more complex the surgery comes.
Speak to us at Clyde Veterinary Hospital for advice on the best way to proceed if you find yourself in this situation.
What is the Right Age for Desexing Kittens?
While there is no age limitation on having your cat desexed, most usually the operation is performed after 4 months of age, when the kitten begins to reach sexual maturity.
While no specific complications prevent desexing of older animals, bear in mind that as your cat ages, their resilience to surgical procedures also declines, so if you are going to have the procedure performed, it’s best to do so while your cat is younger.
What is the Most Suitable Age for Desexing Other Animals?
Guinea Pigs are best desexed at around 5-6 months
Hamsters, Rats or Other Rodents at between 4-6 months
Rabbits should also ideally be desexed around 4-6 months
For Ferret females, the ideal age is when they first come into heat.