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Should I Have My Cat De-Sexed?

De-sexing is certainly recommended by vets, shelters and animal-care groups. Here, we’ve answered some common questions cat owners may have: 

Why should I get my cat de-sexed? 

For a number of reasons! The three most important ones include: 

  1. Health benefits. There is a known reduction in the incidence of tumours (prostatic in males, mammary in females) in de-sexed cats. 
  1. Reducing unwanted litters. Shelters and adoption services are often overwhelmed with kittens, and there is also a significant problem in Australia with stray/feral cats. 
  1. Reduce unwanted behaviours. These include roaming and aggression, which can lead to car accidents and fights  

Should I wait for my female cat to have her first heat, or a litter? 

No. Unlike dogs, there is no strong evidence to suggest any benefits to having a heat, or litter, before de-sexing. It may lead to an unwanted litter if you have an outdoor cat. Further, the surgical procedure is more involved in a cat that has had a heat, is actively on-heat, or pregnant. 

What age is best? 

Most cats reach sexual maturity at around 4 months of age. That is, they are able to mate and fall pregnant from 4 months. Therefore, it is generally advised to have de-sexing performed between 3-4 months of age. If you miss this window, it is certainly still worth getting your cat de-sexed!  

What is the procedure? 

Most vets will recommend fasting your cat the night before surgery, then taking away his or her water in the morning. You will drop your cat off to the vet, who will give some sedation. Once anaesthetised, the procedure varies depending on if it is a male or female cat. 

Male cats are castrated – a small cut is made over the scrotum, and the testicles are surgically removed relatively quickly. Stitches are not usually necessary. Female cats have a slightly more involved procedure. Termed an “ovariohysterectomy”, it involves making a cut into the abdomen and surgically removing the ovaries and uterus. Stitches are usually used to close the skin. 

Your cat will be recovered in hospital, given some pain relief, and usually sent home that same afternoon.  

Is it a risky procedure? 

Vets are very well trained in performing de-sexing surgeries. Far and away the majority are problem-free, routine procedures. However, any anaesthetic and surgery can have complications, and your vet will explain all of these to you prior to surgery.  

What is the cost? 

This depends on if you have a boy or girl cat, and also on your vet clinic. There is certainly not one standardised cost across the country. Don’t hesitate to contact your vet, who will be happy to send you an estimate/quote for the procedure.  

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