What Is Spay/Neuter?

A quick primer on the nuts and bolts–but mostly nuts–of spay & neuter.

What Is Spay/Neuter?

Spay/neuter performed in a well-run clinic is the simplest, most humane method for ending feline death due to overpopulation. With few to no side effects, these common, routine surgical procedures sterilize cats, leaving them unable to reproduce. Only veterinarians perform spay/neuter surgery, following surgical prep, precautions and care very similar to what humans receive when undergoing surgery. Incisions are small, no more than an inch and a half in length for females. It takes place under anesthesia, so there is no pain or discomfort during surgery. Ask your veterinarian to perform a thorough preoperative exam, making certain the feline is healthy for surgery. Whether free-roaming or indoor, every cat may be an excellent candidate for spay/neuter. 

Spay vs. Neuter

A spay is an abdominal surgery performed to remove a female cat’s reproductive organs: the uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries. The surgery is quick, taking about 15 minutes for adult cats and even less for kittens. After administering anesthesia, a veterinary technician shaves abdominal fur to prevent bacterial contamination of the surgical site and thoroughly cleanses the area. The veterinarian completes the procedure through a single small incision and sutures the site both internally and externally. 

A neuter involves surgically removing a male cat’s reproductive organs, primarily the testicles. After thoroughly cleansing the site and administering anesthesia, the veterinarian completes the procedure through two small incisions in the scrotum, one for each testicle. For adult male cats, surgery takes 5 minutes at most. Neutering male kittens can take as little as 1 minute. The incisions are often so small that sutures are not needed.   

While simply “tying tubes” in females or performing a vasectomy in males would effectively sterilize cats, these procedures do not stop heat cycles and mating behaviors nor do they have the added health benefits of a spay/neuter.

On average, the quick snip of a spay/neuter takes no more than 10 minutes. 

Cats with Ink

During a spay, some clinics will tattoo female cats. The tattoo appears as a thin green line near the incision site and helps identify the pet as spayed. Spayed/neutered feral cats also receive an identifier: a tipped left ear. 

Lady Cats & Stitches

During a spay, female cats will receive stitches along their abdomen. Veterinarians use two types of sutures: removable and dissolvable. Removable sutures will require an office visit 7 to 10 days after surgery. Dissolvable stitches will be absorbed during recovery. Ask your veterinarian which type of sutures will be used.

Ditch the Testicles. Save the Dough.

The cost of a high-quality spay/neuter is more affordable than most think.

Find low-cost spay/neuter clinics

Free Trips for Gonad Snips

Felines headed for a spay/neuter arrive in style thanks to the free Scooter Shuttle. 

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Spay/Neuter Myth #3

Spaying/neutering causes cats to become overweight and lazy. 

Learn the truth

Make Your Cat Cooler

Getting a cat fixed can help reduce unwanted behaviors, such as spraying, yowling, roaming and aggression.