Spay Surgery Start to Finish

Everything you wanted to know about spaying your cat and more.

By Stacy Hackett

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KittenYou've made an appointment to have your female kitten spayed, but you wonder what she'll go through on the day of surgery. What happens during the procedure? When can she come home? When can she start playing again? Will she be in pain?

Put your mind at ease. Animal welfare organizations including the Humane Society of the United States, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Veterinary Information Network have answered all your questions, taking you step by step through the surgery and recovery period. For more information, talk to your veterinarian.

What is spay surgery?

  • The technical term for spay surgery is ovariohysterectomy (OHE)
  • OHE involves removal of the ovaries, fallopian tubes and uterus


When should I have my cat spayed?

      Before her first heat
      Typically between 4 and 6 months of age

Do some veterinarians spay sooner than 6 months of age?

  • Yes this is called early-age spay or pediatric spay
  • Done at 6 to 8 weeks of age
  • Performed more frequently at animal shelters before adoption
  • Helps prevent pet overpopulation

What happens during spay surgery?

  • Surgery takes place in a sterile environment, such as an operating room
  • Your cat receives general anesthesia
  • A small incision is made in the cats abdomen
  • The ovaries and uterus are removed
  • Blood vessels are clamped and tied to prevent bleeding
  • The veterinarian closes the incision with surgical glue or sutures

Can my cat come home the same day?

  • Shell recover from anesthesia in about an hour
  • Veterinary staff will monitor her for unusual reactions or bleeding
  • In most cases, she can go home that evening

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Reader Comments

sharon    RANTOUL, IL

10/9/2014 7:17:46 PM

I think its a great thing we already have enough homeless pets

Jess    Orlando, FL

2/14/2012 12:06:00 PM

I cannot disagree more with Adria from Maynardville, TN.

FOUR MILLION cats and dogs are put down in American shelters every single year. How many animals have to die before we as a country stop being ignorant and understand how irrational, stupid, irresponsible and selfish it is to keep your pets intact??

Adopt one of those animals, do not selfishly breed your cat or dog. By breeding your cat you are perpetuating a very serious problem.

Not that I feel your points make any sense, but let me address one, your thoughts that intact cats are fine in the 'right hands'. What qualifies 'the right hands'? Even the most attentive, careful owner could have their cat accidentally run out the door, causing another cat to get pregnant (or their cat if it is female) causing another litter of kittens. What if your cat was was the male, how are you going to access those kittens to 'get them a good home'? Perpetuation of the problem. Most of the animals killed in shelters were once pets. Not all their owners were bad people, a lot of them would have probably be deemed good people, the right hands, but yet their pets are out, homeless and in the shelter.

Another important thing to note is a lot of the behaviors that are cited most commonly during owner surrenders (at pounds, rescues, etc) is that the cat pees inappropriately and is too aggressive. BOTH of those issues can be greatly improved, and likely eliminated, if an animal is fixed.

Keeping you cat intact raises their risk of cancer, yet another fantastic reason to spay/neuter your pets!

Why breed your cat when they are perfectly wonderful and adoptable kittens (and cats) at every rescue, pound and shelter around you?

It is unacceptable, with VERY few exceptions, to keep any pet intact. Ever.

John    Lakewood, OH

8/14/2010 5:03:16 AM

Spay/Neuter laws unfortunately are becoming a nescessity. Until we learn in this country as a collective about responsible pet ownership and care there will be an overpopulation. One day I hope and pray there will be shelters that have only a handful of animals. Until then Spay/Neuter laws are a good thing.

Mosey's mom    Houston, TX

2/24/2009 1:31:18 PM

Unfortunately, even cats or kittens that have been bred by reputable breeders can end up on the streets as well.... all cats and dogs need to be spayed/neutered.. breeders should have no exceptions... sorry.

There are too many wonderful, loving animals being euthanized "killed" in shelters every day. This has to stop.

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