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Spaying Cats

"Spaying cats refers to the sterilization of the reproductive features of female cats. Technically, this procedure is called a “Ovario-hysterectomy”, in which parts of the reproductive tract, i.e. ovaries and uterus are removed. The procedure for spaying a cat is usually performed between 5 to 7 months of age. Cats are spayed for many reasons, including the prevention of various reproductive system diseases, to avoid undesirable litters, to control the cat population, and to correct behavioral problems. Once spayed, a cat might not be able to reproduce and might experience a significant change in sexual and aggressive behavior. Cat Research shows no adverse effects of early spaying or neutering cats."

Anatomy of the Female Feline Reproductive Tract:

The main female reproductive tract feature in cats are the ovaries, where the ova or eggs are produced. Once a cat is in heat, the ova or eggs become mature and passes through the tiny tubules called oviduct. The oviducts, opens into the horns of the uterus. Horns of the uterus in cats are mostly 6 – 8 inches in length and forms a Y shape, connecting both ovaries to the body of the uterus.

Sperm and ova combines or fertilizes in the horns of the uterus. During pregnancy, kittens are held in the muscular body of the uterus. The uterus opens into a tough muscular feature called the cervix, which remains closed throughout the pregnancy and only opens under the influence of hormones, which are released at time of birth. On the descending part of the cervix lies the vagina, which is connected to the reproductive as well as the urinary tract.

In a typical spaying cat surgery, key features of the reproductive tract, i.e. ovaries and uterus are removed. The cervix thus opens into a hollow sac, where the production of ova or eggs, hormones and the development of fetuses is not possible.

Benefits of Spaying Cats:

Cats are spontaneous ovulators, which means that eggs or ova are only released from the ovaries if a cat when it is mated. During mating season, a cat comes in heat for at least 3 – 6 days, and if not mated, the heat cycle may repeat after every 14 – 21 days (depending upon the breed), until mated.

Therefore,the major benefit of spaying cats is not only to prevent repeated heat cycles, which not only causes health problems for the cat, but the owner may experience severe aggressive and frustrated cat behavior. Additionally, unwanted litters and chances of mating can be prevented with the help of surgical spaying.

During the heat cycle, female cats may show unusual behavior, such as escaping from the house to mate, increasing the risk of accidents. Additionally, the male cat influx in the surrounding area and howls during breeding season can cause discomfort. Additionally, unspayed cats may leave traces of urine around the house. Such cats, are therefore highly indicated for spaying.

Along with birth control, behavioral correction, and removal of sexual frustration, various kinds of reproductive tract problems such as ovarian and uterine tumors, mammary gland tumors and cervical tumors can be prevented with feline spaying. Infections, inflammations and health problems related to the uterinal tube and ovaries can be resolved through successful spaying.

Indications of Spaying Cats:

Spaying a cat is typically a surgical procedure, which permanently sterilizes the queen. Though pregnancy in cats can be prevented with the help of “Birth Control Pills”, but these potential therapeutics have severe side effects such as feline Diabetes Mellitus and the development of cancerous tissues in the reproductive tract if used for long periods of time. Similarly, various cat behavioral problems related to sexual frustration and seasonal problems can be controlled with the help of behavioral medicines and natural remedies, but those too are not a permanent solution. Therefore spaying a cat is the only known effective and permanent solution for various problems.

Main reasons for Spaying a Cat


  1. Spaying cats at an early age can prevent mammary gland tumors, which are mostly malignant in nature. Cat mammary tumors can be fatal in middle age and older cats.
  2. Unwanted litters can be prevented by spaying a cat; in recent research it has been noted that about 34% of all cats in the world remain dis-owned by humans and there is no way to properly take care of this huge feline population.
  3. Domesticated cats may show unusual behavior, nervousness, and sexual frustration during the estrus (period just prior to ovulation); such behavior can be permanently controlled by spaying. Temporary problems of this kind should always be treated with prescribed medications and natural remedies.
  4. Cats which shows signs of repeated heat and are not allowed to mate may develop various reproductive and other systemic problems such as Pyometra (Pus in the Uterus), Depression, Anorexia, Digestive problems, cat urinary tract problems and nutritional deficiencies. Such cats, with a multiple estrus in a season are highly indicated for feline spaying.
  5. Estrogen is the hormone released during the estrus cycle has been reported as an important factor in the development of various ovarian, uterinal and cervical cat tumors, which can be prevented by spaying cats when young; preferably before the first heat cycle.

Surgical Procedures for Spaying Cats:

The removal of key female reproductive tract features is the primary objective of spaying a cat. In cats, only the removal of the ovaries can work effectively, but most veterinary surgeons recommend the removal of the uterus/uterine horns as well. Various post-surgical reproductive health problems have been reported in spayed cats in which the uterine was left intact.

After general or localized anesthesia (depending upon the age, nature, response and behavior of patient), an incision is made on the abdominal wall, at the mid-line ventral portion of the cat (close to the abdomen), just below the umbilicus or belly button. The size of the incision varies based on the health, age and physiological status of the patient. The horns of the uterus are identified carefully, while the ovaries lies on the free ends of these horns, which makes a Y shape in the lower abdomen, connected to the body of the uterus.

A ligament which attaches the ovaries to the kidneys is required to be broken to properly identify them. The ligament along with the ovarian arteries are tied off or ligated with resorbable suturing material and transected. Similarly, the uterinal arteries are ligated just above the cervix and body of the uterus, along with the horns of the uterus. The ovaries are transected carefully, ensuring the closed cervix as a natural barrier to the higher portions of the reproductive tract.

After the removal of the reproductive tract, it is ensured that the abdomen is carefully disinfected and free of bleeding. Then a three-layer suturing is done. Inner two layers, i.e. muscles and fats are sutured with resorbable material, while the skin is sutured and glued with a non-absorbable suturing material.

Post-Surgical Care after Spaying Cats:

A fresh spayed cat may be discharged soon after surgery, but it is recommended that a cat should be kept under observation at least overnight at the hospital or clinic.

Along with routine post-surgical monitoring to prevent infection, bleeding and inflammation, specific therapeutics such as antibiotics, anti-inflammatory drugs, pain killers, anti-histamines etc should be considered.

The risks of ruptures and reaction to drugs administered during the cat spaying procedure are other factors which should be closely monitored. That is why, most veterinarians recommend that a patient be admitted for at least a night at the hospital after. A natural remedy such as Problem Pet Solution can be used to ease any post surgical trauma due to spaying or for cats with any minor behavioral issues. surgery.

References:

Merck Veterinary Manual (Merck & Co)

W. Saunders “Small Animal Clinical Oncology”. (Saunders Co. Philadelphia, 2001)

Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine

 

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