Ovariohysterectomy (Spay) in Cats

General information

Ovariohysterectomy is the medical term for the surgical removal of a female animal's internal reproductive organs: the ovaries and uterus. Spaying a cat eliminates her heat cycles - and the behavior problems that accompany them - by removing her ovaries, and eliminates pregnancy by removing her uterus.

Even though the spay is performed routinely, ovariohysterectomy is major abdominal surgery requiring general anesthesia and sterile operating technique.

Benefits of Ovariohysterectomy

Although all surgeries have anesthetic risk, the benefits of the spay often outweigh the risk:

  • Your cat's heat cycles will stop. Behavior problems associated with the heat cycle - like urine spraying, aggression, and escape attempts - will be prevented in cats spayed before their first heat cycle. Cats spayed after their heat cycles have begun usually have reduced behavior problems which were associated with the heat cycle.
  • By eliminating the chance of pregnancy, spaying your cat also eliminates the risks that come with birthing. Spaying eliminates adding unwanted kittens while the numbers of cats in animal shelters continue to climb.
  • Spaying eliminates the chance of her developing a uterine infection, which are common in older cats. Spaying greatly reduces the chance of your cat developing mammary cancer later in life.
  • Cats with diabetes or epilepsy should be spayed to prevent hormonal changes that can interfere with medication.

Myth Busters

  • Myth: You should wait until your cat has a litter of kittens before spaying.
    Fact: There is no benefit to waiting until your cat has been bred. Waiting until your cat is older before spaying reduces the protective benefits against mammary cancer.

  • Myth: Spaying alters your cat's personality.
    Fact: While spaying may minimize problem behaviors associated with the heat cycle, spaying does not change your pet's personality.

  • Myth: Spaying a cat will make her gain weight.
    Fact: Cats and kittens are routinely overfed and therefore gain weight. Cats are typically spayed as they finish growing and their energy requirements are falling. Spaying your cat also reduces her energy needs. The result of overfeeding and reduced energy requirements is weight gain. When your cat is fed the appropriate amount of food for its size, life stage, and activity level she won't gain weight.

Posted on February 23, 2011 >> Article Archive >> Image: dan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net