We all know that part of responsible cat ownership is getting our pet spayed or neutered when the time comes. Not only does spaying and neutering mean no unwanted kittens, but it has numerous health benefits for our feline pals. However, we also know spaying and neutering are some of the pricier parts of owning a pet.
But how much is it to spay or neuter a cat these days? Well, it will vary according to certain variables, such as where you’re located. Today we’ll look at the average costs of getting your cat spayed or neutered, so you have a better idea of what you’re in for when the time comes.
The Importance of Spaying or Neutering
You might think the only reason to have your cat spayed or neutered is to prevent unwanted pregnancy, but there are actually quite a few reasons to have this procedure done. One of the best reasons besides not having kittens you weren’t ready for? Having your pet spayed or neutered can lengthen the time your pet lives! One study showed that cats that were spayed lived up to 39% longer, while cats that were neutered lived up to 62% longer—that’s quite an increase in lifespan.
That’s not all, though! Spaying or neutering your cat can also keep them from engaging in destructive behaviors (yes, destructive behavior can appear in both sexes, though it is more common in males). Some behaviors that can be negated or reduced by spaying or neutering include roaming while in heat, other heat-related behaviors (yowling, etc.), and aggressiveness.
Then there’s the fact that spaying or neutering your pet can help them stay healthier, as it reduces the risk (or even prevents) some illnesses. Which ones? In males, neutering can eliminate issues relating to the prostate and lessen the chances of testicular cancer, while in females, spaying can eliminate breast tumors and uterine infections.
How Much Does Spaying or Neutering Cost?
How pricy spaying or neutering your pet ends up being can vary immensely depending on a few things—such as how old your cat is, where you take them to be fixed, and where you’re located in the United States. For example, having a cat that’s 6 months old or younger fixed will be less expensive than if you’re having the procedure done on an older cat (older cats often require more anesthesia and come with a few more risks). Likewise, having your cat spayed or neutered in the Midwest or the Southern parts of the U.S. will be cheaper than having it done on the East or West coast.
Then there’s where you take your pet to have the surgery done. Taking your cat to a regular veterinarian will be the most expensive option. The national average for spaying is $300–$500, and neutering is roughly $200.
Then, come your less expensive options. Mobile clinics, for example, are the types of clinics that travel from place-to-place offering vet services. They provide quick and efficient service for an average cost of $60–$80 for spaying and $40–$60 for neutering (these appointments tend to fill up quicker, though).
You also have the option of spaying or neutering your pet through a shelter or rescue organization. These are among the cheapest options of all, as they provide services at lower costs for those needing financial assistance. Average prices for spaying can range from $50–$150 and $35–$100 for neutering.
If you’re looking for less expensive spaying and neutering options, we recommend referencing the ASPCA’s list of low-cost programs.
Finally, whether you’re having your cat spayed or neutered will also affect how much it costs. Spaying is a more intensive surgery than neutering and therefore costs more. Spaying also takes longer than neutering, which increases the price.
Additional Costs to Anticipate
Luckily, there shouldn’t be too many additional costs to having your cat spayed or neutered (although this will vary by the route you take to have the procedure done). Most of the time, everything required to spay or neuter your pet will already be built into the price. In some cases, you may find you have additional costs for bloodwork or extra anesthesia. You might also need to catch your pet up on certain vaccines if it’s behind, which will add to the total cost. But other than items such as that, you shouldn’t find yourself with any additional costs other than the price of pain medication after surgery.
Are There Risks Associated with Spaying or Neutering?
There are always a few risks when surgery is involved, but this is one of those cases where the benefits outweigh the risks. These risks are also very low for young, healthy kittens (though kittens are more at risk for after-surgery complications that arise from being too active before their bodies are ready). Some of these complications include bleeding or inflammation along the incision, an infection at the incision, the incision being reopened, and swelling beneath the skin where the incision is. In rarer cases, female cats might develop urinary incontinence or bladder infections.
There’s also the fact that a cat being spayed or neutered does increase its chances of becoming obese as the surgery causes the metabolism to decrease. Obesity is a big problem in felines these days anyway and can lead to a host of health issues, including diabetes and heart issues. Keeping your cat on a diet of cat food that meets their nutritional needs but isn’t high in calories can help, as can helping the cat stay active.
Does Pet Insurance Cover Spaying or Neutering?
Unfortunately, most pet insurance plans the cost of spaying or neutering your cat because they consider it an elective surgery. However, you can check if your pet insurance company has add-ons to your plan to cover preventative care. If they do, check those add-ons to see what they cover, as occasionally, these will cover costs associated with spaying or neutering. It will vary by company, though.
How to Help Your Cat After a Spay or Neuter
Just like you would need a bit of TLC after surgery, your favorite feline friend will as well. This will mostly involve keeping an eye on them over the next few days to ensure the cat is healing as it should. You’ll also want to ensure there’s no excessive lethargy, food avoidance, or swollen bellies; these signs indicate you could need to talk with your vet. And if your pet hasn’t urinated by the 24-hour mark after surgery, you need to get to the vet as soon as possible.
Along with watching for physical symptoms, you’ll also need to do some cat wrangling to make sure your kitty isn’t making any death-defying leaps off tall objects or running up the walls. Also, keep an eye on whether your pet is licking at the incision site; doing this could lead to bleeding and irritation.
Besides that, it’s just a matter of giving your cat pain medication if needed and lots of attention and affection!
Having your feline spayed or neutered is a necessary part of cat ownership, but it can be a large expense if you aren’t careful. While prices will range according to a handful of variables, such as your geographical location, going to a vet will be the most expensive option. Luckily, there are low-cost options for spaying and neutering available in the form of mobile clinics, shelters, and rescues. If you need some financial assistance in getting your pet fixed, check out these lower-cost options, as you should find something available to fit your budget!
Featured Image Credit: PRESSLAB, Shutterstock