Surgery can be a scary word for cat owners. If you’ve been timid about getting your cat spayed or neutered because it is a surgery, you’re not alone. The idea of your precious kitty going under the knife is a valid concern. Just recently, I got my 1-year-old cat, Dexter, neutered. Dexter’s story and my experience with the neuter process may be just what you need to put your mind at ease.
Why I Had My Cat Neutered
From the very beginning, I knew that I would get Dexter neutered. I had intended to have it done much earlier in his life, but I had some financial trouble that got in the way. It didn’t help that he has had a cough that required some extra testing before he could be cleared to be put under anesthesia. Kittens can be neutered as early as 5 weeks of age and there are veterinarians that say that earlier is better. There is no proof that cats need to wait until sexual maturity to get spayed or neutered.
Lucky for me (and Manna), Dexter was a bit of a late bloomer. It wasn’t until he was about 10 months old that he started showing any signs of sexual maturity.
Sexually mature cats will spray urine to mark their territory. The spray is filled with pheromones that make it especially odorous and difficult to remove. Dexter made sure that every cat (and human) in town knew that this is his apartment. My husband and I were very busy cleaning up after him and washing our laundry over and over.
Adult cats that have not been spayed or neutered will begin having sex with anything that moves (and some things that don’t move). Poor Manna was getting violated left and right. As long as my husband and I were around, we would separate them when Dexter started to put his moves on her. Manna stood up for herself too, so there was a bit of fighting going on.
Both of my cats are indoor-only cats. I am with them and in control of them whenever they leave our home. Had Dexter been and outdoor cat, it is likely that he would have gotten in a lot of fights with other male cats over territory and female cats. He would have been at high risk for contracting diseases like FIV and Feline Leukemia.
Overpopulation is a concern of mine as well. If Dexter had gotten out of the apartment and come in contact with any un-spayed females, it is likely that they would have produced kittens. Sure, I may not have even been aware of the existence of these kittens since male cats don’t play a role in raising their young. However, my lack of knowledge would not stop these kittens from becoming another statistic. Around half of all cats that end up in a shelter are euthanized because of overpopulation. Getting your cat spayed or neutered humanely reduces the amount of overpopulation in your area.
Before the Surgery
Manna and Dexter both went to the veterinarian for their yearly wellness visits the day before Dexter was neutered. According to our veterinarian, they are both models of health. She loved getting to see them again. We were able to determine that Dexter’s cough was not asthma (whew), but rather a bacterial infection that will be resolved with a month’s worth of antibiotics.
After the wellness appointment, our veterinarian decided to keep Dexter overnight and perform the surgery in the morning. Not all veterinarians will require an overnight stay, but this was what was most convenient for us and our veterinarian. As with any surgery, a cat can not have any food or water for a few hours beforehand. There is also pre-surgical blood work that needs to be done to ensure that it will be safe to put the cat under anesthesia.
As you might suspect, it wasn’t easy for me to give Dexter into someone else’s care. I was nervous! I asked my veterinarian a ton of questions and she hugged me before I left. She promised that if she would call me the instant she had any news on Dexter. Don’t be shy to ask your veterinarian for the specifics of their procedures!
When the veterinarian’s office called, my husband and I rushed over to pick Dexter up. It was about 11 AM the day after we dropped him off. We couldn’t wait to have our Little Dude (Dexter’s nickname) back. The veterinarian and the vet techs gushed about what a wonderful kitty Dexter was in their care. He was awake and ready to go home!
What did I notice about Dexter at home? He didn’t seem to be in any pain, but he was obviously still under the effects of the anesthesia. We had were given 3 days of pain medication for him to keep him from having any pain. Instead of being sleepy, he was running around our apartment in a confused fashion. He continued to do this for the rest of the day. I was surprised that he could keep up the energy that long!
Dexter’s eyes were very dilated. In order to keep his eyes from drying out or becoming infected while under anesthesia, a medicine had been applied to his eyes. This medicine caused the dilation and it took about 2 days before his eyes were back to normal. It wasn’t painful, he didn’t seem to notice anything was wrong.
There were a few areas of hair that had to be shaved for the surgery. Dexter’s right front leg has a shaved area where the IV fluids and medications were inserted. On his rear end, there is a small spot on each hind leg near his scrotum that is shaved. Our veterinarian also did a great job of taking in the extra skin on his scrotum that would have resulted from removing his testicles. There is no swelling, bruising, redness, or blood.
A week later, Dexter is back to his old self! You would never know that anything happened to him except that the hair is still regrowing in the shaved areas. There is no personality change. He still feels as manly as he has ever felt, but he has stopped spraying and humping Manna altogether. I believe that having Dexter neutered was a great choice. His life only gets better from here!