Pill or Spaying

Why should I bother spaying my cat when I can give her a pill to stop her getting pregnant?

If only it was that easy.....

This is a question we are often asked, and our advice is simple... If you don't intend to breed from your cat then have her neutered surgically (spayed).

The reasons for doing so are as follows:

  • To prevent unwanted pregnancies. It does not benefit a cat to have kittens, and a vast number of unwanted cats are destroyed each year. If not spayed, cats can become pregnant at 5 months, when still not fully grown.
  • To reduce the significant risk of mammary (breast) cancer later in life.
  • To stop tom cats being attracted to your house, fighting and spraying their scent.
  • To prevent pyometra. This is a serious condition in which the uterus fills with fluid and then becomes infected. The treatment is hysterectomy (spaying) and because the cat is ill the operation has a greater risk.
  • To reduce the chance of your cat picking up common and serious diseases like feline aids or feline leukaemia through mating with an infected tom cat.

In France the ‘pill' for cats is readily available from chemists and some vets. It is designed to be given weekly or fortnightly to prevent seasons, and therefore pregnancy.

However there is debate about its long-term use. The pills contain synthetic hormones that have lasting effects on the cat's body. They are broken down by the liver, so the liver is being asked to work harder than normal.

They can cause several side effects including uterine and mammary tumours, infected uterus, diabetes, overeating, aggression or apathy. The manufacturers' advice is that in order to minimise side effects the cat is regularly allowed to have normal seasons by stopping the treatment, and initial use is only after the cat has had a normal season. 

So thinking logically, you still have your cat coming into season occasionally with all the risks involved (see list above). You have the inconvenience of giving a tablet regularly to your cat, and it can still become pregnant or need a hysterectomy later in life anyway. You also have the cost of the pills to pay throughout your cat's (hopefully) long life.

Choosing to neuter your cat means that once it's done you do not need to worry about pregnancy. She can be neutered from 5 months and sometimes younger if circumstances dictate. Of course spaying your cat costs more than buying a pill, but you only have to pay for it once.

So why not get her sterilised? If the answer is that you really can't afford it, Les Amis Des Chats may be able to help with a Neutering Voucher.

Diana James
Veterinary Surgeon

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