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The Daily Vet by petMD

The Daily Vet is a blog featuring veterinarians from all walks of life. Every week they will tackle entertaining, interesting, and sometimes difficult topics in the world of animal medicine – all in the hopes that their unique insights and personal experiences will help you to understand your pets.

There are many advantages to spaying or neutering your cat. Spaying refers to removing the uterus and ovaries (or in some cases, only the ovaries) of a female cat. Neutering can technically mean altering the sex of either a male or a female cat. However, most commonly it is used to refer to the altering of a male cat.

Spaying your female cat has several advantages:

  • Cats that are spayed early in life, before the first heat cycle in particular, have a much lower risk of developing breast cancer later in life.
  • Cats that are spayed also do not develop pyometra. For those of you unfamiliar with this disease, pyometra is a very serious and often fatal infection of the uterus. When a cat is spayed, there is no longer the possibility that pyometra could occur.

For a male cat, there are advantages also:

  • Male cats tend to spray less frequently when neutered. However, it should be noted that, though neutering definitely reduces the chance that your male cat will spray (i.e., mark his territory with urine) or will continue to spray, it does not guarantee that he will not spray. Neutered male cats may still spray. Female cats (both spayed and intact) also can spray.
  • Though not an absolute, male cats that are neutered tend to fight with their feline neighbors or housemates less often as well. Fewer cat fights equates to fewer injuries and abscesses.

Besides the health and behavioral advantages of spaying and neutering, there is also the advantage of making certain that your cat does not contribute to the pet overpopulation problem. The number of cats euthanized every year at shelters, rescues, and animal control facilities throughout the nation is staggering. And these cats are euthanized simply for lack of proper homes.

Should your cat be allowed to have a litter before she is spayed? No! There is no good medical reason for your cat to have a litter of kittens before she is spayed. In fact, there is no good reason that your cat should wait until she starts her heat cycle before she is spayed. As we’ve noted previously, spaying a cat earlier in life provides a solid medical benefit by virtually eliminating the risk of breast cancer for your cat.

Personally, I have nothing against breeding purebred cats. In fact, there are many breeds of cats that I find quite beautiful and fascinating. The thought of losing these breeds because we no longer breed them is distressing. However, I do believe that the breeding of animals should be carried out only by reputable breeders with knowledge of their chosen breed and careful selection of the mated pair. Breeding your cat simply because you want kittens is, in my opinion, unacceptable.

Dr. Lorie Huston

Image: PunyaFamily / via Shutterstock

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