I volunteer for a cat rescue organization, and we have this gorgeous calico queen who is nearly in constant heat. Several people who pass by our rescue within the pet supply store show an interest in this cat. The fact that she hasn’t been spayed and her unpredictable behavior stand in the way of her being adoptable.
I’ve heard that queens that are spayed while in heat have more complications from the surgery. Is this true, or is it OK to schedule an appointment with our vet to spay her, even though she’s in heat? Having all those hormones in her system all the time can’t be good for her. We usually spay and neuter intact cats before adoption, and all our other cats are spayed or neutered. She’s had at least one litter (semi-feral); she came in with a kitten who has since been adopted.
I wouldn’t say that queens that are spayed while in heat have more complications from the surgery. When a cat is in heat, the uterus and cervix become thick and swollen, and the blood vessels associated with the ovaries and uterus become engorged, making for a slightly bloodier, technically more demanding surgery. However, I’ve spayed many cats that were in heat, and it always turned out fine.
Some of my clients waited until the cat was no longer showing signs of heat before bringing her in for surgery. In many of those cases, even though the cat was not showing outward signs of heat, it still took longer for the reproductive system to return to normal and during the surgery the uterus was still very turgid and engorged.
So, to me, it doesn’t matter. Any veterinarian that has been in practice for a while has learned to become proficient at spaying cats in all stages of their reproductive cycle. Cats should be spayed as soon as possible, whether it is to prevent the cat from becoming pregnant or, as in this case, to hasten the adoption process.
By: Arnold Plotnick, DVM
Featured Image: Via Tambako The Jaguar/Flickr