Spay Neuter Charlotte opened in 2011 with the express purpose of ending the needless euthanasia of healthy, adoptable animals in the Charlotte area. We believe that providing affordable spay neuter services over the last five and a half years has had a significant impact on this issue. Since opening we have spayed over 15,000 female cats. But according to the recent statistics there are still significant numbers of cats being euthanized annually at the local shelter. Why? Because there are too many unwanted litters and not enough adoption.
Think about this. On average, a female cat goes into heat by 4-6 months of age. From that point on, if she is left unfixed, she can have a litter every 3 months from spring until autumn producing 3 – 5 kittens in each litter. This season is commonly referred to in the rescue world as “kitten season” because of the number of cat litters born during this time. Using a conservative estimate that means that one unfixed female cat can produce 2,097,152 kittens in 10 years. Yes, you read that right: one unfixed female cat can lead to over 2 million cats. No small wonder that so many cats end up being euthanized at the shelter – it just isn’t possible to keep up with the numbers being produced.
If knowing that by fixing your female cat you can prevent the needless suffering of homeless cats isn’t enough of a reason – spaying your cat also has significant health and behavioral benefits as well. Fixing your female cat reduces her risk of mammary and uterine cancers and life threatening infections called pyometras. If you’ve ever lived with a cat in heat – you know it isn’t fun. Cats in heat will yowl and roam at all hours of the night – with no regard for your sleep schedule – and sometimes will take up “marking.” Marking refers to when a cat will spray urine on objects to leave their smell behind for a potential mate. The reason they do this is because their urine contains pheromones and hormones which can alert other cats that they are in heat.
The spay procedure is a relatively quick procedure performed in our facility. Before the spay we shave your cat’s belly to provide a clearer view of the surgical site, and remove all hair and debris that can cause an infection. This is called a sterile surgical prep. On average it takes one of our experienced spay neuter veterinarians 5-7 minutes to fix a female cat. At Spay Neuter Charlotte we spay cats when they are in heat because we joke if we didn’t, it would be hard to fix any cats at all! We give the cats a mix of drugs called Kitty Magic, to make them sleepy as well as anesthetize and provide long acting pain relief throughout the surgery and post operatively. The surgery is pretty straightforward: we remove all of the cat’s reproductive organs including the two ovaries, the uterine horns and the uterine body. At the incision site we insert a pain blocker that numbs the surgical site and eliminates most of the post-operative pain immediately following surgery, up to 6 hours. To provide further comfort we also give our feline patients oral post operative pain medication to go home.
After the spay has been completed we put a small green tattoo on the cat’s belly near their surgical site. The fur will grow back making this tiny green tattoo virtually invisible to your eye.
Why a tattoo? It is one of the best ways to prevent an unnecessary surgery. Without the tattoo if your cat gets lost one of the first steps an animal shelter or a responsible pet owner will do is take is to schedule a spay procedure. The green tattoo is a quick way for a veterinarian to tell that the cat is already fixed and does not need to undergo a spay procedure. We have seen a number of cats at Spay Neuter Charlotte that were scheduled for a spay procedure, only for our veterinary surgeons to find that they had a tattoo or a faint spay scar. Unfortunately, cat spayed at an early age may not have a visible scar, which means on occasion, we have opened up a cat only to discover that the uterus and ovaries was not there. A tattoo in these cases would have been beneficial and saved the cat from undergoing a needless procedure.
We recommend that cats that have been fixed spend the night in our clinic to allow the anesthesia to wear off and keep them calm and stress free. By allowing them to stay overnight they get the chance to recover safely supervised by a trained medical staff member which can administer the pain medication, which comes in a syringe, with as little stress as possible.
When pet owners pick up their female cat the morning after the surgery we will send them home with two more doses of pain medicine They will have already received a dose the previous night and a dose prior to discharge, administered by our medical staff. By that time your kitty should be walking and acting normally. In case they aren’t, we provide you with an email address – firstname.lastname@example.org – which puts you in touch with one of our experienced doctors who can answer your questions and provide follow up care.
It takes 7-10 days for female cats to recover fully. One of the best ways to make sure that her recovery goes smoothly is by putting an e-collar on your cat.
We know that she hates it. We don’t blame her. But it prevents post-op licking which is the leading causes of post-op problems. Just like in humans, when the incision site begins to heal and the skin knits back together, it can itch. The best way that cats know how to deal with this itch, is by licking. While an e-collar isn’t fun, it does make sure that your cat doesn’t have to deal with even worse problems, like an open and infected incision.
Spaying your cat is an easy way to improve the health of your pet, make her easier to live with in your home and reduce cat overpopulation problem.
If you have a friend who isn’t sure whether or not they should get their kitty fixed – share this blog with them!
-Dr. Welch, Medical Director