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Can You Spay a Cat in Heat? Vet-Reviewed Facts & FAQ

Rachael Gerkensmeyer

By Rachael Gerkensmeyer

spaying cat

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Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Paola Cuevas

MVZ (Veterinarian)

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

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Cat overpopulation is a serious problem in most parts of the United States, so we must all do our part to make sure that our pet cats do not contribute to the problem. This means that spaying is essential. Spaying your cat is the only surefire way to avoid ending up with kittens that you do not want or cannot take care of. The big question is: when should a cat be spayed? Can your cat be spayed while she is in heat?

The short answer is that there is not one specific time to get your cat spayed; however, there is a window of time to shoot for. Also, you can get your cat spayed while she is in heat but there are some cautions to consider first. Everything you need to know about spaying your cat before, during, and after their heat cycle can be found in this guide. Read on!


Spaying Your Cat Before She Goes into Heat for the First Time

Getting your cat spayed young guarantees that she will never get pregnant and unnecessarily add to the cat population. The best time to do get her spayed is before she goes into heat for the first time. This is the time when spay surgery is the least intrusive and dangerous. Most vets recommend having cats spayed before their first heat cycle, which is usually around 6 months.

However, some cats can go into heat for the first time by only 4 months. Therefore, it is a good idea to consider having the spay surgery done by then if your vet recommends it. Animal shelters and rescue facilities tend to spay the cats that come to them as early as 8 weeks old. Spaying before the first heat cycle is so important because once the heat cycle begins, a cat can easily get pregnant, and then it would be too late to spay. All it takes is one short encounter with a male cat to get a female pregnant.

Spaying or neutering is only one of many vet procedures your pets may need over the course of their lives. All of those vet visits can be pricey, but you can manage the cost with the help of a good pet insurance plan. The customized options from Spot may help you keep your pet healthy at a reasonable price. 

spaying cat
Image Credit: Simon Kadula, Shutterstock

Spaying Your Cat During a Heat Cycle

It is possible to have a cat spayed while in heat, but this is not an ideal situation. Spay surgery during a heat cycle has some risks. One of the biggest disadvantages is that female cats become engorged in heat. Their organs and tissues fill up with blood to prepare for mating. The tissues can easily tear during spay surgery, creating unnecessary complications.

Unfortunately, the chance of tearing makes the spay surgery process a longer and more expensive one. If tearing occurs, the cat will experience more pain and a lengthier recovery. Keep in mind that once your cat goes into heat for the first time, she may go into heat every few weeks until she becomes pregnant. It can be tough to schedule surgery during a time outside of the heat cycle.

Spaying Your Cat After the First Heat Cycle

If you did not spay your cat before her first heat cycle started, the only options you have are to get the surgery done during heat or to wait and have the surgery done between heat cycles. As mentioned, scheduling a spay surgery between heat cycles can be tricky. You should consult with your veterinarian during a heat cycle to schedule the surgery when the vet thinks it best.

If your cat goes into heat again as surgery gets close, you should call your vet to see if a postponement is necessary. Your vet may allow you to just bring your cat in as soon as her heat cycle ends to avoid having to coordinate a scheduled spay surgery and hope that the plans are made for the right time.

cat after spaying
Image Credit: Sannikova Maria, Shutterstock


Some Last Comments

It is best to get your cat spayed while she is still young and before she starts her first heat cycle. However, just because that timeline is missed does not mean that spaying is off the table. It is vital to work closely with your veterinarian when having your cat spayed once she starts having heat cycles. With careful planning and safety precautions in place, your cat can live a happy and healthy life no matter when she gets spayed.

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Featured Image Credit: De Visu, Shutterstock

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