tpvets_logo.jpg (2726 bytes)TOA PAYOH VETS

Date:   07 September, 2008    
Focus: Small animals - dogs, cats, hamsters & rabbits

*10 a.m - 5 p.m (Mon - Sun, except Sat). Dr Sing Kong Yuen. By Appointment Only.

*6 p.m - 10 p.m (Mon - Fri). 10am - 5pm (Sat). Dr Jason Teo. House-calls available.

Appointment preferred.
Tel: 6254-3326, 9668-6469
Fax: +65 6256 0501
Cat spay by Dr Sing in 2008.
Education means fewer cat owners bring their cat for spay when they are caterwauling. The cat below had been caterwauling and spayed by Dr Sing.  
6-month-old caterwauling cat Singapore. Fragile blood vessels.Toa Payoh Vets
6-month-old caterwauling cat Singapore. Spay Hook. Toa Payoh Vets
Singapore Caterwauling cat spayed 6 months. Toa Payoh Vets
Spaying a caterwauling cat  
Dr Sing Kong Yuen, Toa Payoh Vets,

Caterwauling refers to the wails and cries by a female cat on heat. These loud cries can last a few minutes and can be disturbing to the neighbours if the owner lives in an apartment. Spaying, also known as sterilisation is the removal of the ovary and uterus and solves the problem of caterwauling. The following pictures show the process of spaying a caterwauling cat at the Toa Payoh Veterinary Surgery, performed by Dr Sing Kong Yuen over the past years.  
Singapore cat spay. Spay hook to hook up ovary Under general anaesthesia, the skin and muscle layers are  cut opening up the inside of the abdomen. A spay hook (right) goes into abdomen to hook out the left ovary and uterine horn. The forceps (top) picks up the ovary and uterine tissues.

You can see the large left ovarian blood vessel of the female cat on heat. It is the almost horizontal vessel   between the forceps gripping the uterus and the spay hook (right). When the female cat is not on heat, the vessel shrinks and there is less risk of bleeding.  
Singapore cat spay. Tying up blood vessels The left ovarian blood vessels and ligament are clamped by three forceps. A catgut suture is tied around the lowest of the 3 forceps. Before tightening, the lowest forceps is removed so that the ligature slips into the clamped area and the knot is tied and will not slipped.  
Singapore cat spay. Cutting off ovarian blood vessels Then, the scalpel blade cuts the area of the ovarian blood vessels and ligament between the top two forceps. 

The ovarian ligament stump is released into the body. The ovary and the whole length of the uterus, known as the uterine horn are pulled out of the abdomen.   

In this way, the other uterus (right uterine horn) can be seen as it joins uterine body near the cervix.  This right uterine body is hooked out and the same procedure in ligating the ovarian ligament is repeated. 
Singapore cat spay. Tying up uterine blood vessels The 3 forceps technique is applied similarly to the uterine body. You can see two forceps now clamping the uterine body (right forceps) and the uterine horns (left forceps) as the 3rd forceps had been released and the catgut suture has ligated the uterine body (right most).

However, since the female cat is on heat, it is best to ligate the large uterine blood vessels as an extra precaution against bleeding. This takes time and may not be performed by the veterinarian.
Singapore cat spay. Tying up uterine body before cutting You can see the large bluish left uterine vein (click thumbnail) to the right of the lower catgut knot. 

Massive bleeding will occur if it is not knotted tightly. In this case, a fourth forceps (left) is used to clamp the uterine body. The scalpel cuts in between this two and the uterine stump will be released into the abdomen. 
Singapore cat spay. Suturing muscle and skin The muscle layer and peritoneum are stitched up. The skin incision is then sutured with nylon stitches.  In 2003, I use absorbable sutures which will dissolve in 21 - 28 days' time as most cat owners don't come back for stitch removal. 
Singapore cat spay. Cage rest 24 hrs and bandaging wound for at least 7 days The cat is warded at least 24 hours in the surgery but most Owners want the cat home immediately.  A bandage for at least 7 days prevents the cat from removing or licking off the sutures. Nylon stitches must be removed but most owners don't ever come back to do so. They can remove them at home too.

Absorbable stitches are now used at Toa Payoh Vets so that there is no need for a visit to get the stitches removed. 
Singapore - 6-month female cat caterwauling. Not spayed. Given pills till she grows bigger. The harsh cries of this beautiful 4-year-old female cat on heat occurred at two-weekly intervals. She wanted to go out to meet her mate. Spaying will give her peace of mind.
Some vets prefer to stitch under the skin (subcuticular stitching) using absorbable sutures. There is no need to remove stitches.  I prefer to spay the cat when it is not on heat, usually 7 - 14 days after the meowing has stopped.  The surgery is almost blood-less and takes a much shorter time than when done on a cat on heat. However, the Singaporean wants immediate surgery usually.  

Spaying a cat on heat requires more time and vigilance to ensure that the large uterine blood vessels are knotted well so that there is no subsequent bleeding.  I prefer the cat not to move about for the next 48 hours and longer if possible.

As to the age for spaying, I prefer to spay cats at around 6 months of age, although the loud noises when the female cat is on heat start at around six months of age and most Singaporeans are worried that the neighbours may feel disturbed.  

Professional opinions all over the world differ as to when it is the best age to spay the cat. Some vets spay the cat as early as 4 months of age, before caterwauling develops. 

Delays may result in pregnancies in the case of vets working to control stray cat population. As for me, there is always a loss of a case as the owner usually gets a vet who will perform spays on the same day, even if she is on heat. In any case, it is hard to tell whether the cat is on heat, unless the owner reports on her making a lot of noise (caterwauling).  

The alternative is to get some pills from the veterinarian to suppress the mating cries of the caterwauling cat and spay the cat 1 week later or at an older age when she is matured.   

Stray cats. In Singapore, there was an understanding, prior to the culling of cats on hygienic grounds since May 2003,  between the government stray cat control or catcher that a spayed stray cat which is identified by a triangular piece of the left ear tip snipped off by the veterinary surgeon during spaying, will not be taken away to the pound. 

However, many cat lovers who bring in stray cats for sterilisation feel strongly against this ear mutilation. The veterinary surgeon must clarify this matter with the person bringing in a stray cat for spaying, to avoid misunderstanding of being cruel to the cat.

In Singapore, the female cat makes a lot of loud noises when she wants a mate and owners living in apartments just can't silence her and worry that neighbours get irritated. This happens every 3 weeks but the duration is variable.

Therefore, the owner wants the cat spayed. Usually, the cat will be around 6 months of age.  I recommend that the cat be spayed at the end of her heat, around 2 weeks later as the uterine blood vessels and ovaries will have shrunk to the normal size. By then, there is no urgency to spay the cat, till another howling episode occurs. 

What is best for your cat may not be best for you, the Owner. Please note that some cats tend to bite off the stitches within 3 days of surgery, exposing the guts. This will be an emergency.  Do consult your vet immediately if this happens.  After 7 days, the situation is not so serious, but do find time to see your vet to resolve the licking and inflamed surgical area before it gets worse.

In conclusion, it is best for the cat that you do not get it spayed while it is on heat as the blood vessels are large and fragile at this stage of the cat's life. Unfortunately, the cat makes so much noise that spaying is required immediately by many Singaporean owners.

Cat Spay by Dr Sing before 2005. Cat gut was used. After 2005, synthetic absorbable sutures are used.
Singapore stray cat - spayed completed 5 min ago The spay operation in the cat is similar to that in the dog. A Caucasian expatriate at the Bukit Timah Saddle Club kindly  brought this stray cat for spaying around 2005.
Singapore stray cat - spayed. Bandage cover spayed area. Absorbable sutures are used to close the skin incision on a stray cat being spayed as the 'owner' is unlikely to come back to the vet for stitch removal. 
Singapore stray cat spayed 5 days ago. Going home. Wound not infected. Five days of confinement in a cage for this stray cat in Toa Payoh Vets. Wound healing is excellent. The skin around the spayed area and the stitches are normal in colour, indicating there is no infection of the operation site.
Singapore stray cat - spayed 5 days ago. Nothing to do. The stray cat had a good rest for 5 days before going home to the Bukit Timah Saddle Club. Appetite returned on day 2. A stray's cat left ear tip is usually cut 0.25 inches off the tip after spaying but in this case, the expatriate owner did not wish to get the ear clipped.
Feline Reproduction (One source from U.S. Cats)
Length of estrus average 6 +/- 3 days, range 2-19 days
Length of estrous cycle in unbred queens 14-21 days. Vary widely
Length of pseudopregnancy 35-45 days
Pregnancy rate 74%
Queening rate 65 %
Length of gestation 67 +/- 3 days, range 62 to 74 days
Length of parturition 16 +/- 14 hours, median 8 hours
Dystocia rate 5.8% of litters
Litter Size (from various sources) 2-5 kittens, average 3.7
Number of litters/year average 2-2.5, range 1-3
Age at puberty - male 7-18 months
Age at puberty - female 6-10 months, as early as 4 months, as late as 21 months

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