Getting a new kitten is a very exciting time for the whole family, with all the fun of getting a kitten to chase a ball or curl up fast asleep on your lap whilst you are watching TV in the evenings. This early stage of life is when there are some important decisions to make, which will have a significant bearing on your new furry family member's health as they grow older. One of these is the decision whether to get them neutered or not.
Neutering of a female is referred to as spaying, whereas neutering is referred to as castration.
Spaying is the process by which either a female cat's ovaries or ovaries plus her uterus are removed. The process was originally introduced as a means of population control, however, there are also a number of very important health benefits to having the procedure performed.
A 'pyometra' is a potentially fatal condition that can occur in cats as well as dogs. It is a major bacterial infection of the uterus.
The hormone progesterone released by the ovaries, causes the thickening of the uterine lining when the cat is in season. At the end of the season this thickening should recede allowing expulsion of fluid and debris. As a cat gets older the uterus can become excessively thickened, meaning all the bacteria, fluid and debris that can get into the uterus cannot be expelled properly creating a perfect environment for the bacteria to proliferate.
By removing the ovaries, we can reduce the hormonal drive behind this process causing the uterine lining thickening. If pymotra has occurred once, it will re-occur at subsequent seasons.
Rick of mammary tumours (90% of which are cancerous) can be significantly reduced by spaying cats, providing it is done early in a cat's life. Once a cat has had one season it's risk of mammary neoplasia increases. Spaying before 5 months of age id advised due to this.
Spaying also reduces undesirable oestrus behaviour such as urinating in the house, being very vocal and trying to get outside. Some of these behavious can become learnt behaviours meaning that if a cat is spayed well past sexual maturity and has been showing these traits for a while, then they are likely to continue doing so.
New Zealand is a country overpopulated with cats. There are far more cats needing homes than there are homes for them. There are approximately 2.5 million feral cats across Aotearoa.
- David Granby