When you have a female kitten, most vets will recommend having her spayed before she goes into heat. So, if you have her spaying appointment scheduled, the day is approaching or has arrived, and your cat is in heat — you may be wondering what to do. Sometimes the vet may still want to spay the cat as scheduled, and other times, they may recommend delaying the appointment. To help you understand what your vet's goals are in this situation, here's a closer look.
Why should cats be spayed before going into heat?
Now, it's important to note that cats can certainly be spayed after they go into heat for the first time. Vets spay older cats quite often. However, when presented with a young kitten, most vets will recommend having it spayed before it goes into heat for the following reasons:
- It's more likely to prevent pregnancy; cats can become pregnant during their first heat
- She's less likely to try to get outside if spayed before going into heat. (Cats often "escape" or wander for the first time while in heat.)
- You won't have to deal with her caterwauling while in heat
Why isn't it ideal to spay a cat when she is in heat?
If your cat goes into heat right before her spaying appointment, some vets will want to delay the procedure. This is because when a cat is in heat, all of the blood vessels in her reproductive tract are dilated, creating excess blood flow. If the vet were to perform the spay procedure at this stage, there would be increased bleeding and a greater risk of complications.
Since cats in heat also wander, the vet may also worry about the cat wandering off after her spaying procedure, when she should be relaxing in a safe space. Her hormone levels will come down after being spayed, but that can take a couple of days.
Why do some vets spay a cat while she's in heat anyways?
In spite of the increased risk of bleeding and wandering, sometimes vets will still want to spay a cat while she is in heat. Typically, this is done if the vet thinks there is a really high risk of the cat becoming pregnant if she is not spayed right away. For example, if it's an outdoor cat, or if you have an intact male cat in the home, this may be recommended.
If your cat goes into heat when she is due to be spayed, contact the vet and let them know. They may or may not decide to go ahead with the surgery as scheduled, based on their individual risk assessment.
For more information on pet spaying, contact a local veterinarian.