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Can Cats Breastfeed After Being Spayed? Vet Approved Advice

Rachel Giordano

By Rachel Giordano

a street cat breastfeeding her newborn kittens

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Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Chyrle Bonk

DVM (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Spaying your cat is one of the best decisions you can make for her overall health. A common question cat owners have regarding nursing mother cats is if the mother cat can breastfeed after being spayed. However, while the mother may still continue to produce milk after being spayed, it’s not recommended to spay your cat while she’s nursing a litter.

Let’s explore this topic more in-depth and learn the benefits of spaying your female kitty as well as the best time to do so.

Can a Cat Feed Her Kittens After Being Spayed?

Mother cats will continue to lactate after being spayed and can be returned to their kittens when recovered from the surgery, usually within hours. However, we do not recommend spaying your cat until the kittens have been weaned, which typically takes anywhere from 4 to 6 weeks.

Mother cats nurse their kittens around the clock, so not only are you removing her from her kittens for 12-24 hours, there’s also increased complications due to her enlarged mammary glands. These mammary glands get in the way of a midline surgical incision and the increased blood supply to the area can make bleeding more of a concern. Most veterinarians recommend waiting until the weaning process is complete and the mammary glands have dried up for the mother’s safety before spaying.

spaying cat
Image Credit: Simon Kadula, Shutterstock

What Are the Benefits of Spaying Your Cat?

Spaying your female cat holds many health benefits. Let’s take a look.

Helps Her Live a Longer Life

Spaying your cat may increase her lifespan by significantly reducing or eliminating the chance of developing many types of reproductive diseases, including uterine cysts, uterine and ovarian cancer, uterine infections, and the chance of breast cancer. A whopping 85-90% of female cats that develop breast tumors are malignant. In fact, spaying before the first heat cycle can decrease a cat’s chances of developing mammary cancer by over 90%.

Eliminates Heat Cycles

Intact female cats typically go into heat for 4 or 5 days every 3 weeks. When this happens, your female will yowl, a mechanism used to attract males. Your female will also urinate more frequently, and she may do it all over the house instead of exclusively using the litter box. Spaying will completely eliminate these frequent heat cycles.

Keeps Homeless Cat Population Down

Did you know that approximately 3.2 million cats enter U.S. shelters yearly? By spaying your cat, you help reduce the numbers of cats entering shelters by reducing the numbers of unwanted pregnancies and homeless cats. Many homeless cats are euthanized due to overpopulation if they don’t get adopted.

Queen with newborns
Image Credit: Cemerlang Images, Shutterstock

When Should I Spay My Female Cat?

According to experts, you should spay your female at 3 to 6 months of age before the first heat cycle. This time frame is beneficial because it prevents your cat from getting pregnant and greatly reduces her risk of getting mammary cancer later in life.

Final Thoughts

Spaying your female cat is an important decision that has many benefits that may prolong her life. However, you should wait until she has weaned her kittens before having the procedure done. While she will still be able to nurse her kittens after being spayed, the risks of the procedure are increased for the mother.

Featured Image Credit: hemro, Shutterstock

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