What is Hysterectomy?
Most pet owners are familiar with the spay procedure in which the uterus and ovaries are removed from your cat in order to prevent unwanted pregnancy, control the cat population, prevent heat cycles, and eliminate the chance of several diseases and cancers of the reproductive tract. An alternative and less commonly performed procedure is a hysterectomy, in which the ovaries are left intact, which is a type of partial spay. This procedure leaves the ovaries functioning and in place, but because the uterus is removed there is no chance of pregnancy.
Certain types of cancers, specifically bone cancer, can be more prevalent when ovaries are removed; leaving ovaries in place reduces the incidence of these cancers. In certain breeds where specific cancers are more prevalent, an ovary-sparing spay may be a better option to reduce the chance of developing cancers. This is understood better for certain dog breeds than for cats, however, ovary-sparing spay is thought to reduce cancer incidence such as bone cancer in cats as well. In addition, the benefits of leaving ovaries in place in your cat include maintaining higher activity levels and preventing obesity, as full spay sometimes results in an increased interest in food and lethargy, leading to obesity.
Hysterectomy still has the benefit of eliminating pregnancy, controlling cat population, eliminating bleeding during heat cycles, and preventing cancer and disease of the uterus. This procedure is performed by a veterinary surgeon under general anesthetic. It is especially important to ensure all uterine tissue is removed as pyometra, a life-threatening uterine tissue infection, can occur if removal is not complete. Because this service is not commonly offered by all veterinarians, you may need to be referred to a veterinarian surgeon that performs this procedure if required.
Hysterectomy Procedure in Cats
Prior to hysterectomy (ovary-sparing spay), your veterinarian will ask that you fast your cat from food as general anesthesia will be used. A routine examination of your cat will be performed prior to surgery to ensure they are not at risk for complication during surgery or anesthetic administration. Your cat will be administered a sedative, intravenous anesthetic, and intubated and maintained on gaseous anesthetic for the hysterectomy procedure. Your cat's abdomen will be shaved and carefully cleaned antiseptically and surgical drapes used to ensure a sterile surgical site. An incision will be made in your pet's abdomen. Because your veterinary surgeon needs to ensure that all uterine tissue is removed, this incision will be slightly larger than with a traditional spay. In traditional spay, if some tissue is remaining it is less of an issue because ovaries are also removed, eliminating hormone production that could stimulate remaining uterine tissue. In the hysterectomy procedure your veterinarian will need to ensure no uterine tissue remains including removal of the uterine tissue at the cervix.
The uterus is exposed and pulled up to the surface of the incision so that it can be adequately visualized and the cervix litigated precisely to ensure no uterine tissue remains. The uterus is excised at the cervix, the ovaries are left in place and all vascularization is tied off. Once uterine tissue is completely removed and vascularization addressed the incision is closed. Usually, your cat will be released within 24 hours unless concerns need to be addressed requiring longer hospitalization and monitoring by your veterinarian.
Efficacy of Hysterectomy in Cats
Because the uterus is removed, unwanted pregnancy, uterine disease, and bleeding during heat cycles is prevented.
Hysterectomy Recovery in Cats
Your cat will require rest and limited activity for several days post surgery. Outdoor activity should be eliminated until your cat has recovered. You will need to administer painkillers and any other medication given by your veterinarian post-surgery as instructed. An e-collar will be useful in preventing your cat from licking or biting their abdominal incision. Monitor your cat's food and water intake and output and the abdominal wound for any signs of complications. If any concerns arise, address with your veterinarian immediately.
Cost of Hysterectomy in Cats
As this procedure is more complicated than traditional spray, requiring litigation at the cervix and a larger incision, it is usually more expensive. Traditional spays range from $200-$500, while ovary-sparing spays can range from $400 to $800 depending on the cost of living in your area.
Cat Hysterectomy Considerations
Leaving ovaries intact can increase the risk of mammary gland tumors somewhat. This can be mitigated in future by performing ultrasounds to screen for this condition as part of your annual exam. Ovarian tumors are also still possible but extremely rare and not usually of significant concern.
If all the uterine tissue is not removed at the cervix, the remaining ovaries can stimulate this tissue and stump pyometra, infection of remaining tissue at the cervix, can occur. An experienced veterinary surgeon will minimize this risk by ensuring all tissue is removed. Heat cycles will still occur and your cat may exhibit behavioral symptoms of this such as vocalization. Pet owners should be aware of this, though no bleeding will be associated with the cycles.
Hysterectomy Prevention in Cats
Ovary-sparing hysterectomy is a preventative method for several unwanted conditions in cats. By leaving ovaries intact the elimination of certain types of cancers (e.g. bone cancer) that your cat may be at risk for are reduced. The procedure is effective at eliminating pregnancy and contributing to population control. Hysterectomy is also thought to reduce obesity in cats as opposed to total spay. Hysterectomy is a crucial tool in control of the unwanted cat population, prevention of uterine disease and reduction in incidence of obesity and certain types of cancer.
Hysterectomy Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals
My cat had Pyometra surgery oct 14 it’s now nov 9 and she still has a very small amount of brown/green discharge. She’s acting 100% normal, eating drinking playing full of energy and she seems a lot happier than before. But the discharge is still there? It’s extremely better than before but is that something I should worry about?
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my cat went in for surgery last friday she was leaking urine, and then I noticed something hanging out of her vagina area. When they went in through her tummy they found a large dark growth that was removed from her uterus and they're not sure what it was i believe it came out with her ovaries? Not quite sure but she's peeing all over the place is this normal? She's on antibiotics twice a day, and pain medication once a night. I'm just worried as she's an old cat 11-13 years but they told me that she was a good canidate for surgery even at her age and that the sugery went well?
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My cat was speyed 4 weeks ago. she recovered well and seems full of energy.
however she dosnt want to eat.
She nibbles on a few cookies every 2-3 hours but wont touch the fish or chicken that she used to love.
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