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Cats mature up fast. As early as four months, queens can reproduce.
Most cat owners are caught off guard when their lovely canine friends turn up pregnant. Many of them postpone the spaying until it’s too late.
Not only do cats get pregnant early but they can go into heat quickly. Before you absorb the shock of your kitty’s reproduction, she may show signs of pregnancy again. That can happen even during nursing.
If your fur baby surprised you with a litter of her own, you are in great company. What’s done is done. Your main mission now would be to fix the cat as soon as you can.
Nevertheless, as a loving pet parent, you don’t want to hurt the kittens in the quest of stopping mommy from looking for toms.
The million-dollar question then is: can a cat breastfeed after spaying? We investigate…
How Are Cats Spayed?
Spaying is a neutralization procedure done on female animals to stop them from reproducing.
The procedure ideally removes the uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries.
During spaying, a vet puts the cat under general anesthesia then makes an incision below the belly button right into the abdomen.
They will go ahead and remove the reproductive tract, both ovaries, and the uterus.
Finally, they will close the incision with two stitching layers absorbed by the skin over time. The stitches are covered with staples or skin glue.
Spaying is a bit complicated compared to neutering (the removal of testicles for male pets).
The latter can be done in under five minutes while the former takes anywhere from 20 and 90 minutes.
The time depends on the age and size of the kitty. If she’s in heat, spaying may take longer as well as the reproductive tract is fragile and has more blood.
Spaying During Nursing
Queens usually breastfeed for 6-8 weeks. As soon as kittens turn 6 weeks, they can be weaned from the breast.
At 8 weeks, they should be eating solid foods. As nursing slows down, cats can come into heat and get out of the house to look for mating partners.
As such, you might have to take the cat for spaying as she nurses her young.
A breastfeeding cat can be spayed and allowed to go back and breastfeed.
Many of them have undergone the procedure and still feed their little ones.
The recovery time is pretty short and the kitty can go back home and care for her kittens.
While spaying a breastfeeding cat is possible, it is not recommended. So many things can go wrong including the following:
I. Rupture of the stitches
If you have ever watched kittens as they breastfeed, you know the process is rather intense for mommy.
The kittens must knead momma’s breasts to induce the flow of oxytocin and hence trigger the flow of milk.
Kneading is the action of pushing the paws in and out against the mammary glands or any surface for that matter. It is likened to the action of beating the dough when making bread or biscuits. Besides triggering milk flow, kittens also knead to show contentment, comfort, and joy.
Kneading is a natural and beneficial process. Unfortunately, for a cat that just got out of surgery, the behavior is extremely risky.
It can tear the stitches apart and expose the incision area. This is especially true if the kneading is accompanied by pawing, jumping on mum, and other high-energy activities.
When the wound is exposed, germs can make their way in causing infections and ultimately more problems.
II. Disruption of Nursing
A breastfeeding cat needs to be happy, relaxed, and stress-free to produce enough milk for her litter.
Now imagine throwing surgery into the equation. It causes pain, discomfort, and stress.
Right after the procedure and a few days after, the incision area will be raw and painful for the cat.
The thought of three or four hungry kittens kneading and pawing at her abdomen can be scary for a cat.
To avoid the pain, some queens will refuse to breastfeed completely. If the kittens rely on nursing exclusively, they will need bottle feeding until they can feed on solids.
III. Surgical Complications
When nursing, a cat’s mammary glands will have more blood flow. This alone makes the spaying procedure a bit bloody.
Additionally, a large percentage of the mammary glands are located in the abdominal area.
If the vet isn’t careful, he may rip one or two glands and risk spilling milk in the wrong place. This scenario can cause infections.
Word of Caution
If you must have the cat spayed while nursing, pay attention to the following tips.
A. Monitor the cat and her litter closely
Momma cat can keep nursing her young ones well after spaying without the process being too uncomfortable for her.
This can only happen if you make sure her incision area isn’t tampered with during breastfeeding.
Stay close as the kittens are nursing and ensure they don’t push and pull on mommy’s belly too much.
You may have to separate mom and her kittens a little for a few days post-op.
B. Flank spaying is safer
Flank spaying is making an incision on the side of the cat instead of her belly.
A side incision is tucked away and prevents kneading from the little kitten’s paws.
Keep in mind that most vets opt for the traditional route of making an incision in the middle of the abdomen.
Discuss the possibility of a side spay with yours. If it’s not an option, expand your search further.
C. Wean the kittens first
Sure, the reality of your cat becoming pregnant again is frustrating. However, most cats ideally don’t come on heat when they are heavily nursing.
Until one month of age, kittens breastfeed exclusively. After this, you can introduce solids to the young ones. Only then can you talk to the vet about spaying the mother cat.
Remember that kittens may have to wait 24 hours or so after the procedure before nursing.
If they cannot stay that long without their mother, hold off on spaying. Lock the kitty up to keep her contained if you must but don’t spay her yet.
Related Post: When Can I Get My Cat Spayed After Having Kittens?
Can cats breastfeed after spaying? Yes, they can. However, due to the pain of the incision site, they may not want the kittens kneading on their bellies with their paws.
Those that put up with kneading may rupture their sutures and invite all sorts of infections.
So, if you can, wait until the kittens are weaned before spaying the cat.
Related Post: Why Is My Male Cat Sleeping A Lot After Neutering?
Hi! I am Eleanor Price. I started this website after my cat, Louie, almost died from a case of botulism (a type of food poisoning often caused by bacteria that grow on food items). Turned out that my cat’s diet was the problem. I have made it my duty to provide the best information and recommendations about everything cat lovers need to know about their felines’ health and wellbeing. My goal is to find the most informative content on anything feline-related and share it with fellow hardworking kitty lovers.
Disclaimer: While I ensure that the advice and tips given here are in line with the latest evidence-based veterinary information and health guidelines, under no circumstance should you misconstrue my suggestions as medical advice. Please contact your veterinarian in all matters regarding your kitty’s health.