One of the most common surgical
procedures we perform is a cat spay, known medically as an
ovariohysterectomy (removal of the ovaries and uterus). It is
performed for several medical reasons:
- It prevents cats from going
- It prevents cats from getting
- It significantly helps prevent
cats from get breast cancer later in life.
- It prevents cats from getting
uterine infections later in life.
In addition to these medical
reasons, it prevents unwanted pregnancies, a significant problem in
our society. Millions of cats are euthanized every year because they
We usually spay a cat when it is around 6 months
of age. This timetable is variable, the important point is to perform
the surgery before it goes into heat. Increasing daylight encountered
in late winter and early spring stimulate female cats to go into
On the day of surgery we need your pet in the hospital between
7:30 AM and 9 AM. Please take away all food and water when you go to bed the
evening before surgery, and do not give your cat anything to eat or drink the
morning of surgery. It will go home in the late afternoon the day of surgery.
Please call our office at 4 PM for pickup time, you will be given post operative
At the end of this page
we have a short QuickTime video when we spayed our hospital mascot Elbee. You
need QuickTime from apple.com to view it.
Pre-anesthetic preparation is important in
every surgery we perform, no matter how routine. All of our spays receive a
exam prior to surgery. After this
exam will we draw a small amount of blood for an in-hospital
When everything is to our satisfaction we will administer a sedative. This will
calm the pet down and make the administration of the actual anesthetic, along
with post operative recovery, much smoother. Once a pet is anesthetized,
prepared for surgery, and had its monitoring equipment hooked up and reading
accurately, the surgery can begin.
contains graphic pictures of an actual surgical procedure
performed at the hospital. It may not be suitable for some
children (and some adults also!).
The spay procedure begins with an
incision in the skin. We make a small one (we call it a bikini scar
when it heals) because it minimizes anesthetic time when we have to
suture the skin and muscles back together, and to minimize post
operative discomfort. Smaller incisions also heal faster and minimize
the chance of complications. We pick a specific location on the
abdomen to make our incision. This location minimizes skin bleeding,
gives us direct access to the muscles we need to go through to get
into the abdomen, and puts us directly over the ovaries and
All our spays are performed under sterile
conditions. Our surgeon is making this incision near the umbilicus (belly
button) on this cat.
It is important to go through the
abdominal muscle in the proper location. This location is called the
linea alba, and is the area where the abdominal muscles meet. Making
the incision here will yield almost no bleeding, and gives the
surgeon a strong anchor to sew the muscles back together.
start the muscle incision with a scalpel, then complete it
with the scalpel or a scissors, taking special care not to
cut any internal organs.
An instrument called a spay hook is commonly
used to bring the uterus out of the incision through the small opening
in the muscle. The surgery is performed outside of the abdomen.
pull up the uterus until we have the ovary exposed. The
ligament that attaches the ovary to the bottom of the kidney
is gently stretched to allow complete visualization of the
ovary and its blood supply. The metal tip of the hemostat on
the left is pointing to the ovary.
This is a picture of an
ovary cyst from a different cat. This is one of the problems
that can occur when a female cat is not
clamps are used before we cut any tissue. The first two
clamps on the left are where we will put 2 separate sutures.
To the right of these two clamps is a scissors that is in
the process of cutting the ovary (arrow) away from the body.
The last clamp on the right prevents any bleeding from the
All that remains when the ovary has been
cut away is called the pedicle, shown as a second suture is being applied.
What remains will be placed back into the abdomen.
ovary that is removed (labeled on the right) is left with a
hemostat on to minimize bleeding. The surgeon is starting to
gently pull the other ovary out of the abdomen, and will
repeat the same clamping, suturing, and cutting process as
the first ovary.
When both ovaries have
been removed from their position in the abdominal cavity
they are gently pulled to the right. This brings the cervix
out of the abdomen and allows the surgeon to remove the
uterus from the cervix to the ovaries.
Two sturdy sutures are
placed on the cervix before it is cut. When the surgeon is
certain there is no bleeding where the cervix is cut it is
gently placed back into the abdomen.
cats are at risk for a disease called pyometra. This is an
actual infection of the uterus, and can be very serious. It
is diagnosed in several ways, one of them being a
radiograph. The black arrow points to a tubular structure in
the abdomen of this cat this is a pus filled uterus.
is what a pyometra uterus looks like. It includes the
ovaries (arrows) at the left along with the cervix at the
far right. If you look closely you will notice the swollen
appearance to this uterus. This is an infected uterus that
was removed from an older cat. If this cat had been spayed
before its first heat, there is minimal chance it would have
had to suffer this infection.
When our surgeon has made
sure that all internal sutures are holding well and there is
no bleeding, the process of sewing up begins. The linea alba
is sewn first, seen here with stainless steel sutures.
Stainless steel is very strong and causes minimal tissue
reaction, so it is sometimes used. These sutures can easily
be seen on an x-ray,
a nice way to tell if a female has been spayed, especially
for stray pets.
many cats we place the skin sutures just under the skin, so
there is no need to return for suture removal. When the hair
grows back in, it is impossible to tell any surgery was
We were finally able to catch
Elbee and spay her-double click on the movie box below and in a few
seconds it will play. Grab your popcorn and enjoy the
It is at this point that we will
give a pain
injection, which might
make this cat groggy for the evening. When you pick up a pet after a
spay operation you will be given detailed post operative
Most cats go home late in the
afternoon on the day we perform the surgery. They might be groggy
from the pain injection which is advantageous because they will
remain calm and allow the healing process to start immediately. By
the following morning the grogginess will have worn off.
When you first get home do not be
in a big rush to feed. after 1 hour at home offer a small amount of
food and water. If the appetite is good, offer more several hours
later. Do not over do the feeding the first night because anesthesia
can make them nauseous.
Keep contact with children and
other pets to a minimum the first night, and restrict activity for
several days to allow the incision to heal. Do not let your cat go
outside until healing is complete.
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