Spaying and neutering cats has become a vital and commonly performed procedure. It is vital in helping to control the pet population and it can even help to prevent unwanted behaviors as well as medical issues later in life. Here's how much can you expect to pay to spay or neuter your cat and why prices vary from one clinic to another.
What Is Spaying and Neutering?
Spaying is the surgical sterilization of female cats. In the United States, this involves removing both the ovaries as well as the uterus, termed an ovariohysterectomy. In Europe, it’s more common to just remove the ovaries, termed an ovariectomy. Neutering, or castration, is the surgical sterilization of male cats by removing the testicles.
Technically, the definition of the word "neuter" is the removal of the reproductive organs with no distinction of male versus female, but most lay people are referring to males for neutering.
What is the Average Cost to Spay or Neuter a Cat?
The cost of spaying or neutering your cat can vary based on where you live. Areas with a higher cost of living can have, on average, higher costs of spaying or neutering. Additionally, the price can change as cost of living in your area changes. On average, you can expect to pay anywhere from $150 upwards of $300 or more.
Generally spaying is more expensive as that is a more involved surgical procedure. A spay procedure requires going into the abdominal cavity while neutering does not. Pre-anesthetic screenings, such as full bloodwork, can help your vet tailor your cat’s anesthetic plan to make it as safe as possible. Monitoring throughout the procedure can also ensure your cat’s safety. These steps factor into pricing, though, and a clinic that does all of these things may charge more than a clinic that doesn’t.
Oftentimes, if you adopt a cat or kitten from a local animal shelter, the shelter will coordinate spaying or neutering. Your cat or kitten will already be spayed or neutered when you adopt them or the shelter staff will set up a day for you to bring your cat back to be spayed or neutered. Animal shelters will oftentimes go through high volume, low cost spay and neuter clinics. Oftentimes these clinics will be low cost whether they get extra funding through donations, use donated equipment to minimize overhead, or they may do less extensive pre-anesthetic work ups and/or monitoring to keep costs down.
Why Costs Vary
Spaying and neutering cats is something as commonplace as routine vaccinations. The cost can vary clinic to clinic and region to region. When asking about pricing, be sure to ask what that price includes.
Does it include pre-anesthetic bloodwork? What about pain medicine to go home? What is monitored during the procedure? Who is the person actually monitoring and running the anesthesia? Is it a credentialed veterinary technician or is it a veterinary assistant/non-credentialed staff member that received on-the-job training?
These are all things that can factor into costs. So if one hospital charges far less than another, ask these questions to determine why the cost is so different.
What Are the Benefits of Getting a Cat Spayed?
There are many benefits to spaying your cat. The average, unspayed cat can have up to three litters of kittens in one year, with an average of 4 kittens per litter. This includes a cat’s first year of life. So the number of cats being born each year can increase exponentially. Spaying your cat can help control the cat population.
Spaying cats can also have medical benefits. In the United States, an ovariohysterectomy that removes the uterus helps to prevent a life-threatening condition called a pyometra. This is a uterine
infection where the uterus fills with pus. If a uterine stump is left behind, a stump pyometra is a possibility, but generally speaking, a spayed cat won’t be at risk of pyometra.
Spaying cats can also lower the risk of your cat developing mammary cancer later in life. Intact cats are up to 86 percent more likely to develop mammary cancer as compared to cats that are spayed by 1 year of age. Spaying cats early in life can reduce their risk of mammary cancer even more. Cats spayed under 6 months of age have an 91 percent reduction in risk of developing mammary cancer.
Additionally, an intact female cat can become overly vocal and affectionate when in heat. The loud yowling and clingy behavior may be a nuisance to some owners. Spaying prevents your cat going in to heat and, thus, prevents this behavior.
What Are the Benefits of Getting a Cat Neutered?
As with spaying, there’s numerous benefits to neutering your cat. While a female cat can only have so many litters in one year, a male cat can conceivably sire even more litters in a year. Neutering can further control the pet population. Cats are still euthanized every single year in high numbers because there are not enough homes for them, and those that are feral often die early and/or present serious problems for wildlife populations.
Since neutering involves the removal of the testes, neutering can completely remove your cat’s risk of testicular cancer later in life.
Adult male cats can be very territorial. They will routinely spray, or urine mark, to mark their territory. Urine marking is different than just urinating. An intact male cat will urine mark on vertical surfaces, nose height for any other roaming male cat to easily sniff out. Neutering can decrease the behavior of urine marking by up to 85 percent. Neutering can also make your cat’s urine less noxious and pungent.
Intact male cats also tend to more aggressively defend their territory. By neutering your cat you can not only minimize their desire to roam but also to fight with other cats. This can be vital in helping to stop the spread of diseases that are transmitted through saliva and bite wounds, such as FIV.
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