Have you taken in a stray cat? Is your local rescue group unsure if that precious female fur baby you have your eye on has been altered or not?
This is not an uncommon problem. Once the fur grows back in on Kitty’s tummy, it can be difficult to determine if she has been “fixed.” However, we said difficult, not impossible.
Read on for some practical tips on how to tell if a cat has been spayed.
It may seem strange to look at your stray cat’s ear to determine whether she has been spayed or not. However, in some areas where there’s a catch-and-release system in place for “feral” cat colonies, will oftentimes snip a small piece of the ear (usually left) to indicate she has been altered.
Search for the Scar
As we mentioned earlier, searching for the incision scar may be very difficult to do, especially if the female was done as a kitten.
This method usually consists of having to shave the cat’s belly in order to see the skin and even then it may not be visible.
To help you along with your search, there are three common spaying procedures that can be done on cats; traditional, laser, and laparoscopic. All of these techniques will determine where the scar is and if it will even be visible. Let’s take a closer look at these techniques;
- Traditional Spay: If your cat underwent this type of surgery, she will most likely have a 2 to 3-inch (or longer) scar running vertically along her abdomen.
- Laser Spay: If your female was fortunate enough to have a laser spay, the scar may be difficult to spot. You will still be searching vertically along her tummy, but because the laser cauterizes the incision, it leaves less scar tissue behind.
- Laparoscopic Spay: This procedure uses a small camera that is inserted through your female’s abdomen to locate the ovaries. Three small incisions are then made for the surgical instruments. These incisions can be as tiny as 3/16th of an inch. Good luck finding those!
She Goes in Estrus or “Heat”
Although this may not be the most pleasant way to tell if your cat is fixed, it is reliable in the results. However, the estrus of a cat has many factors that can determine when and if she will come into heat. These include;
- Time of year. Most females are more likely to come into heat from the spring to autumn months when there’s more daylight.
- House Cats. Your indoor-only cat under intermittent lighting will have an unpredictable heat cycle.
- Artificial Lighting & Estrus. Females left under artificial lighting can begin estrus at any time.
How long does estrus last and how many times will she go through it?
Again this greatly depends on the age, health, and environment of your cat. Generally, females will go in and out of heat several times during the breeding season. The estrus itself can last anywhere from 1 day to 7 days and she can go back into heat every 1 to 2 weeks after her cycle has finished.
What are the signs of Estrus?
There are many common signs of your cat beginning a heat. These include;
- Long-drawn out calls many times each day
- More affectionate
- She moves her tail to the side with her rear end in the air
- Rolling on the ground and wailing
- Excessive licking of her “private parts”
- Swelling of vulva
- Trying to escape the home
Ask Your Vet
Veterinarians are medically trained, so they may be able to better assess if your cat has been spayed or not. Most often, your vet will run a blood test on your cat to be one hundred percent sure.
According to PetMed, there’s a very specific hormone (the anti-Mullerian hormone or AMH) that is produced when the female is still intact. However, your cat may still test positive for AMH is there is an ovarian remnant left over from the previous spaying; although this isn’t that common.
Spaying is Important
If you find out that your female cat is not spayed, be sure to do so ASAP. Cats that are left intact have a higher risk of mammary gland cancer (like breast cancer in humans) and are also at a higher risk of getting injured if they escape your home in search of a mate.
In addition, there are too many unwanted cats and kittens in almost all cities with a high percentage of them ending up in shelters where their futures can be tenuous at best.
Be a good pet parent and spay your cat. It’s the right thing to do!