Kitten Spay Surgery, Start to Finish

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

By Stacy Hackett

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Mixed-Breed Kitten
Know the basics of spay surgery to ease your mind.
You'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?

  • She'll 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
When can my cat resume normal activity?
  • Most cats recover rapidly
  • Some cats will eat the same day as surgery
  • Most will be eating normally within two days
  • Older animals may be a bit sore or lethargic for a few days
  • Most cats are back to normal within three days

What should I look for at home?

  • Abnormal swelling of the incision area; some swelling is normal
  • Bloody or thick discharge from the incision
  • Any foul odors from the incision area
  • Extreme discoloration of the area; some pink is normal dark red or purple are not normal
  • Contact your veterinarian if your cat opens the incision
  • Contact your veterinarian if you see any of these conditions or if your cat does not seem to be recovering

Are there any risks associated with spay surgery?

  • Your vet takes many steps to eliminate risks during surgery
  • The vet will most likely perform blood tests before surgery to identify or rule out underlying health problems
  • During anesthesia, your cats heart rate and breathing will be monitored closely
  • The surgery takes place in a sterile environment to eliminate risks of infection

What are the benefits of a spay surgery?

  • Helps prevent pet overpopulation
  • Greatly decreases your cats chance of developing mammary cancer
  • Eliminates your cats chance of developing ovarian or uterine diseases
  • Greatly decreases occurrence of behaviors related to reproductive hormones (such as spraying, howling and trying to escape)

The pros of spaying your cat far outnumber the cons. Schedule your kitten's surgery with peace of mind.

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Reader Comments

Marjorie    Davenport, IA

12/5/2015 6:00:14 PM

I had my 10month old Ellie spayed on Friday and she still will not eat. She has drank alittle water but is very weak and tired. Really has me worried. The incision site looks fine but she is breathing alittle fast. I was told by the clinic that she should be bouncing back by today. The Emergency clinic also told me that her breathing fast is her way of dealing with the pain. Does anybody have any suggestions on what I could do to help her? Feel bad that I had this done to her!


4/11/2015 3:38:51 AM

Can someone help me by explaining what is going on with my kitten after having her spayed? She was healthy with all her prescribed vaccinations up-to-date when she had surgery on Tuesday morning/afternoon.
She seemed to be recovering fine,eating normal,using "restroom" normal until I noticed something yesterday[Friday- 3 days past surgery]. "Miracle" was
licking her vaagina and I noticed little drops of blood stains on her bed and,that what she was licking was blood from herself.
Can this be something that could pass,or,does it have to be something serious? I really cannot afford to be spending a lot of money on her. Abandoned in September,at about two or three weeks old,I cared for her and had her as a strictly indoor cat.Now that we have this situation[and the total cost for keeping her(yes I've kept a record] has been
$1000, I've wondering if this situation/problem is going to be expensive to alleviate and if I might have to consider putting Miracle to sleep :(

marlene    edinburg, TX

3/27/2015 6:15:38 PM

Hi my kitten had surgery this past Tuesday, after the surgery she colded bt brought back bt now she is fighting walking very little bt she falls sleeps a lot n today I took her home my question is what can I do to get her better, my concern is she hasn't gone to the rest room since I've had her, please help me cause I would hate to put her to sleep..the doctor believes she may have some brain damage bt to soon to tell...I'll wait for a respond thank you.

barbara    cauiga, IN

7/10/2014 1:14:38 PM

my rescue kitty is a himylian with a very small nose and some breathing difficulties but the rescue wants me to have her spayed how safe will it be to give anesetic.

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