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Spaying a pregnant cat
It is important that pregnant cats are spayed or neutered, and that pregnant
cats are checked for pregnancy at regular intervals in order to avoid pregnancy.
The need for spaying or neutering is even greater if the female cat is known
to be in the last trimester of pregnancy, as she can become quite difficult
to manage at this stage, and may not be able to be handled safely if she is
pregnant. The cat will normally have her spay or neutering carried out once
she has had her last litter, but if she is still pregnant, a more careful
approach is required to minimise the risk of injuring the cat and her unborn
Cats in the last trimester of pregnancy should be spayed or neutered under
general anaesthesia, and ideally should have this carried out during the same
surgery as ovariohysterectomy or ovariohysterectomy. A pregnant cat is usually
not a good candidate for anaesthetic unless the veterinarian has sufficient
knowledge and experience of caring for pregnant cats to determine whether the
cat can be anaesthetised safely. The procedure to be undertaken should be carefully
planned and explained to the cat, so that she is in no doubt what is required
of her and why. The cat's level of fear should be minimised if possible by
talking to the cat calmly and reassuringly at intervals during the anaesthetic
process. The cat should be held by the neck or back, as this is a safe place
to hold a cat, and should be able to feel the touch of the person carrying
out the procedure. This will prevent the cat from biting at or attempting
to bite the veterinary surgeon. The use of a sedative may also be helpful
to help the cat to be relaxed and cooperative throughout the procedure.
Most cats in the last trimester of pregnancy will be in no acute distress,
and are less anxious to avoid handling than they are before this stage. If
the cat has been spayed or neutered before and is pregnant again, the process
should be started after the cat has had her last litter. In this case, the
cat should be spayed or neutered at the earliest opportunity, without any
delay in the gestation period.
The gestation period of a pregnant cat is approximately four to six weeks,
so most cats should be spayed or neutered after the fifth to seventh week
of pregnancy. In any case, the procedure should not be carried out later
than the sixth week, in order to prevent a possible early birth of the kittens,
and to minimise the risk of any difficulties during pregnancy or birth. However,
cats may experience a spontaneous abortion after the sixth week of gestation,
so spaying or neutering may still be carried out at any time in a cat's pregnancy,
as long as it is carried out before the cat's ninth week of gestation. The
cat will normally continue to have her kittens once she is spayed or neutered,
so it may not be necessary to wait to spay or neuter a pregnant cat until
she has had her last litter. This may not be possible, however, if the cat
is not due to have her litter for another week or two, or if the litter is
due to be very late.
There is a risk of a cat suffering a miscarriage after spaying or neutering
a pregnant cat. Although these are uncommon, it is important that the cat
is spayed or neutered by a competent practitioner, who is experienced in
the spaying or neutering of pregnant cats, or has sufficient training to
ensure that this is carried out correctly.
The first stage in spaying or neutering a pregnant cat is to place the
cat under general anaesthesia and the surgery completed under aseptic conditions.
The cat is then put to sleep and the uterus is clamped and cut away. Any blood
vessels that may remain in the uterus will be severed, to prevent them carrying
any blood from the cat.
There is usually some bleeding from the uterus. This may be a little more
than would be expected in an anaesthetised cat, and the anaesthetic and operating
drugs used may also contribute to the bleeding. The cat may be put to sleep
again a few hours later to allow the uterine bleeding to subside. In cases
where a pregnancy has been identified before the surgery, the surgery can
be carried out without anaesthesia, using the same instruments and techniques
used when the cat is anaesthetised. If it is carried out this way, the cat
may have more uterine bleeding, and may also be more stressed during the
The second stage in spaying or neutering a pregnant cat is to close the
surgery with sutures. Most cats are kept on oxygen for a few hours after
the surgery, to make sure that they do not become overly distressed and agitated.
The cats can normally be moved from the anaesthetic recovery box back to their
home environment a few hours after the surgery has been completed.
If a cat has recently had her last litter, there may be some slight discomfort
following the surgery, but most cats will feel well within a few days after
A number of cats are reluctant to lie on their sides after having their
uteruses removed, and many do not like to be touched on their sides. Many
cats, in particular, seem to prefer to keep their abdomens tucked up when
laying on their sides. This can make them feel uncomfortable, but usually
takes a few days to subside.
It is possible for some cats to have a mild vaginal discharge for some days
after the surgery. The cat should be allowed to go out in her normal way
as soon as the discharge has passed.
It may also be necessary to clip the cat's claws before the surgery. Most
cat owners find this a very distressing experience for their cats, so it is
best to have the clipping