To Spay or Not to Spay: Cats

What are the pros and cons of spaying a female cat? This is one of the most important questions a pet owner will ever have to answer.

Spaying refers to surgically altering a female cat’s reproductive cycle by removing her uterus and ovaries, making her unable to have kittens. It is commonly done around six months of age, but may be done earlier or later, depending on a veterinarians preferences. Even elderly cats can be spayed.

Neutering refers to the removal of the testicles in a male cat, to end their reproductive ability. It is commonly done to male cats, between six and ten months of age, but can be done to older animals as well.

This article is written in reference to spaying female cats.

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Reasons To Spay your Cat

  1. When a cat enters her heat cycle she is very annoying, loud, and may act in a way some owners find annoying.  Spaying ends the heat cycle.
  2. Spayed cats tend to wander less.
  3. Reduces chances of cat developing mammary cancer, especially if spayed before their first heat cycle.
  4. Prevents a common uterine infection, called pyrometra.
  5. Prevents many cancers, such as uterine, and ovarian cancer, since these parts are removed.
  6. May result in a friendlier, less aloof, cat.
  7. A cat who is not breeding will not catch any feline sexually transmitted diseases.
  8. In some areas that require licensing of cats, the fees are lower if a cat is spayed.
  9. Spayed cats have longer lifespans.
  10. No risk of complications during pregnancy, or delivery, such as a costly Caesarian section.
  11. In some areas, pregnant cats are sought after for the purposes of sale for euthanasia to be used for veterinary students for dissection.
  12. The cat will not contribute to the large number of unwanted kittens.

Reasons Not To Spay your Cat

  1. There is a small risk of complication or death during surgery, usually due to reaction to the anesthetic. Veterinarians can test cats for allergies prior to surgery.
  2. A purebred, registered cat, who is an excellent example of the breed, and has attended shows to prove such, may be a good cat for breeding purposes.

All in all the benefits and reasons for spaying a female cat outweigh the reasons against it. People do not realize the contributions one cat can make to the population. In one year an unspayed female may have two litters of an average of four or five kittens each. If all of these kittens find homes, and only half get spayed, then in the second year, it is possible that the cat population, has increased to some thirty, or more, cats.

Every kitten born which finds a home, takes a home away from another kitten, who will not be so lucky.

If a person has a male and female cat, and can only afford to fix one of them, it is more important that they spay the female. If a person cannot afford to get a pet altered, they should not get a pet or can select to start with a cat that was already fixed, or keep their pet indoors only, knowing that this can be difficult. Ultimately the number one thing a pet owner can do is be responsible.

The Humane Society of the USA reports euthanizing 4 million animals per year, mostly cats.  This number could be greatly reduced if more people would spay their cat.

Republished here.

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User Comments
  1. R J Evans

    On July 9, 2008 at 4:57 pm

    Cats eh! Well! X

  2. PR Mace

    On July 9, 2008 at 10:43 pm

    I think all dogs and cats should be sprayed or neutered. It will save a lot of lives in the long run. Dog and cat lives.

  3. Ruby Hawk

    On July 10, 2008 at 8:53 pm

    I agree with PR, the pounds overflow with unwanted animals now. great article.

  4. Denice

    On July 12, 2008 at 8:51 am

    One of the BEST things any pet owner can do for their cat is to SPAY her!
    There is NO excuse for letting a cat outside who isnt spayed, and no excuse for letting a mix breed cat have kittens

    excellent article thank you

  5. jeangenie

    On February 28, 2010 at 2:47 pm

    The main reason to spay or neuter your cat or dog is IT SAVES LIVES. An animal lives to procreate, and it is no secret that there are way too many cats and dogs out there who will live their entire lives without knowing a loving home. For anyone who has known the love of a pet, that fact alone should be enough to convince you that it is the thing to do. Cost should not be a reason to not have the procedure done. Find a program to help. PLEASE do not let your pet reproduce!

  6. Gerald S Taylor

    On April 6, 2010 at 6:13 am

    It sounds to me like lazy irresponsible pet owners . Those who don’t get their cat spayed and then let them outside to get bred are probably the same people who’s children are doing the same.
    I have yet to learn of a good answer for having my cat spayed. There are no other cats in my home and I can guarantee, without a doubt, our pet will not be left outdoors. Does anyone know of a good reason to have a pet spayed? besides covering one’s own ass?

  7. Brenda Nelson

    On April 6, 2010 at 10:54 am

    to Gerald
    one of the best reasons to get cats spayed is to prevent the many cancers they can get if not spayed. Every heat cycle a cat goes through puts her at greater risk of some cancers.

  8. Judy

    On November 11, 2010 at 9:24 pm

    My vet said my cat has thin blood and therefore won’t spay her. Any recommendation appreciated..

  9. Brenda Nelson

    On November 12, 2010 at 1:01 am

    to Judy
    If for a health reason a cat cannot be spayed that is understandable, not worth the risk.

    just be sure to keep her INDOORS only.

    there are pills you can use to bring her out of heat, talk to the vet, you dont want to use these all the time though.

    I am not familiar with cats with thin blood ask the vet if there is anything you can do for this.

  10. Tommy

    On September 11, 2011 at 11:57 am

    Following that sMe logic of over population, should we also start ripping and cutting out Human Female ovaries and folopian tubes to help aginst human over population. I think spaying is barbaric and mostly done only because it is convinent to the human not the cat. Why don’t you all put yourselves in the female cats shoes and see how you would like it.

  11. Brenda Nelson

    On September 11, 2011 at 4:19 pm

    to Tommy
    My tubes are tied so I cannot have more kids, and only did have 1 anyhow.
    A few years ago over 9 million cats and dogs were destroyed as surplus animals every year in the USA alone at shelters (not counting thousands more killed by their owners, such as farmers who drown them), because of spaying and neutering that number has now dropped to 4 million every year.

    Is it more humane to spay a female cat or to euthanize kittens?

    I have been fixed and I am very glad I was.

  12. Person

    On September 14, 2011 at 7:47 pm

    I wont spay my cat until it is a COMMON thing for humans to get spayed. I think the humans who do are setting a good example.

  13. Ellie

    On March 27, 2012 at 2:31 pm

    To: Denice
    Spaying a pregnant cat!!! Sounds like a MONSTER would do that!!!

  14. Brenda Nelson

    On March 31, 2012 at 6:20 pm

    To Ellie – over 3 million cats and kittens are put to death in shelters in the USA every year. What is the difference in killing the kittens now, or after they are born?

    Better to spay before a cat even gets pregnant in the first place.

    To Person – it is common for people to get spayed – they call it having their tubes tied.

  15. Common Sense

    On April 19, 2012 at 10:22 am

    To: Brenda

    You sound like a monster…

    “What is the difference in killing the kittens now, or after they are born?”

    The only reason people Spay and Neuter their pets is because they are irresponsible pet owners. The same reason why some people get their tubes tied they have no discipline.

    And the reason these 3 million or so cats and dogs were killed is due to irresponsible “people” that don’t value the lives of animals. Again, coincidentally the same reason people abort babies, they dont value the lives of others.

  16. Brenda Nelson

    On April 19, 2012 at 12:22 pm

    Common Sense –
    the reason people spay and neuter is because they ARE responsible and do not want to add to the burden of unwanted pets, if left unfixed a pair of cats can very soon add up to hundreds.
    Also spaying and neutering reduces many health risks and concerns, and is generally better all round for the pet.
    The reason people abort babies is sometimes because their own life is threatened by being pregnant, or they were raped and do not want to pass rapist genes on to future populations. Perhaps they do value the lives of others more – since world human overpopulation is a huge threat right now.

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