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Thinking about getting your adorable new kitten fixed but worried about the cost? We’re here to answer your questions about how much it might cost you to get Kitty spayed (or neutered) and provide you with useful tips on how to reduce the price.
That depends on two things -
- Whether the cat in question is male (neutering) or female (spaying)
- Whether you go to a regular vet or to a low-cost clinic.
Wondering about the difference in pricing? Why is it more expensive to spay a female than it is to neuter a male? What do these prices include and what don’t they include?
We have all the answers for you. Grab a coffee, this is not a short explanation.
Here at TheCatSite, we’re no strangers to talking about the importance and benefits of spaying and neutering your cats. Just in case you're wondering whether or not to spay or neuter due to the price, let's talk for a bit about why it's so important to get cats fixed. If you're committed to spaying/neutering, feel free to scroll down to the next topic.
So, as a quick refresher.
Spaying and neutering are two separate surgeries that prevent reproduction in cats. In females, the surgeon will take out the ovaries and the uterus. In males, they will take out the testes. These surgeries are incredibly common, with millions of cats undergoing these procedures every year. Cats are never conscious and thus feel no pain during the surgery.
And since we’re doing a quick recap, just a few more facts.
There are myriad benefits to fixing your cat. Male cats that roam to have sex with females are prone to diseases and injuries from fights with other tomcats. If your cat is at home and neutered, those injuries do not occur.
Also, to claim a spot as their own, male cats tend to engage in what’s known as spraying. This is where they spread urine around the home, which smells awful! The earlier you get your cat neutered, the fewer chances they have of spraying.
When in heat, a cat’s behavior changes drastically. Females become very vocal, clingy and sometimes even aggressive as they’re overstressed by their hormones. Spaying them prevents this behavior.
Your cat will also be healthier, as fixed females have fewer chances of developing mammary cancer, uterine tumors, and ovarian cancer. They’re also less likely to get pyometra (a uterine infection that can lead to death) and breast cancer.
Neutered cats live longer and healthier lives. But that’s not all.
By spaying and neutering cats you’ll be preventing the birth of new kittens. And yes, kittens are the most adorable thing in the world, but with not enough good homes to take them in, most kittens either end up in shelters or they die on the streets.
Think you can find great homes for your kittens? Then get your cat fixed and volunteer at the local shelter where you can save the lives of dozens of sweet kittens by helping to find them forever homes.
Cats can actually be spayed/neutered as early as 8 weeks of age. That’s known as “early spay/neuter” and it’s a practice normally reserved for shelters and rescue organizations that want to make sure the kittens are fixed before they go to their new home.
For owners, the current recommendation is to have the kitten fixed before the age of 5 months. Talk to your veterinarian to see when the best date would be, based on his or her availability and the kitten’s weight and overall condition. Just try to make sure surgery is scheduled to take place before the kitten turns 5 months old.
Read more: When to spay or neuter your cat
Ok, back to the topic of the cost of getting your cat fixed. You may be wondering why neutering a female is so much more expensive than neutering a male.
Spaying a female cat and neutering a male cat essentially serve the same purpose but these are two different procedures.
During a spay operation, a veterinarian will fully anesthetize the cat and then create an incision in her abdomen. The vet will cut through several layers to expose the cat’s uterus and ovaries and then gently remove them from the cat’s body. Next, while the cat is still completely unconscious, the vet will meticulously suture several layers to close the incision.
Neutering a male cat is a far simpler procedure. The male cat is usually sedated and only the scrotum area is fully anesthetized and also shaved and disinfected. The vet then makes a small incision in each testicle, removing most of the spermatic cord and tying it off. The incisions are so small, there’s no need for sutures.
As you can see, we’re talking major operation for a female vs. a far less complicated procedure for a male cat. This accounts for the discrepancy in prices.
As you’ll soon see, there’s a range of prices when it comes to spaying and neutering.
Other factors that come into play when it comes to determining the cost of a spay/neuter surgery are the veterinarian’s personal charges. Better-known vets may charge a higher price to spay/neuter a cat than smaller ones.
Your location also plays a role. Cheaper cities will typically offer more inexpensive surgeries. If you live in a more populous city, you can generally expect to pay more. The cat’s weight can also boost the price in some instances (which is another great reason to get your cat spayed or neutered when they’re young and small).
We asked our members at TheCatSite what they paid for getting their cats fixed. Data we requested included the cost of the surgery, where they live (city, town, rural environment, etc.), and whether they went to a low-cost clinic or a vet.
The quotes provided in the beginning of this article are based on that input. Here's some more information and quotes.
In all, we had 65 respondents. Most of the members who responded lived in cities, with California a popular location. There was a pretty even split between those who chose to get their cat's surgery at a veterinarian’s office versus a low-cost clinic.
The lowest price for surgery was $25 in Nebraska for either spaying or neutering at a low-cost clinic. The most expensive price was $600 for a neuter in Washington at a regular vet’s clinic. We did not include this number when calculating the averages because this seems to have been an exceptionally negative experience with a single veterinarian:
I had mine neutered 9 years ago, so can’t give recent numbers, BUT I’d like to point out, you may get a price quoted, but then your vet may add to it without reason, or even asking... The vet I picked quoted me $190 total, for an initial exam, shots and a neuter. We got there, she terrorized my poor kitten for an hour, and then demanded $600.
Another member who paid a lot shared their story:
I live in a metro area (Atlanta). Prices vary greatly. My vet charges $404 for neuter and $507 for spay. A low-cost vet charges $50 for neuter and $70 for spay.
Many cat owners get their cats fixed at affordable prices. Some even manage to get it done for free!
One member from Phoenix, Arizona said:
Maricopa County will often offer a free voucher to a certain amount of applicants at the beginning of each month. Most of my cats were covered by a voucher, and I paid for vaccines, tests, and pain medication.
TheCatSite members who responded to our survey have shown that spaying or neutering a cat can sometimes be expensive (though it doesn’t have to be and we'll soon share tips on lowering the costs).
You might think it’s better to just let your cat go without spay/neuter surgery, then. You’ll keep a close eye on them, discourage unwanted behaviors, and hope for the best, right?
That won’t work as well as you think. Realistically, you can’t watch your cat 24/7. You just can’t. It only takes a female cat getting out and mating once for her to get pregnant. When they do, you’re going to have to spend a lot of time making sure your kitty is healthy and ready to give birth.
Once your cat becomes a mother, they’re going to have a whole litter of kittens. Hopefully, they can give birth naturally. If not, expect to pay $500 to $3,000 for a Cesarean section or C-section. Kittens are delicate creatures and can easily get sick. Which means high vet bills. The kittens will need to be vaccinated every few weeks in early kittenhood, which could cost several hundred dollars for each cat.
Oh, and then there’s food, too. The mother cat will consume more food when pregnant and lactating. And once the kittens are weaned, expect them to be ravenous. After all, as kittens grow, they need a nutritional diet to sustain them. You’ll pay roughly $300 to feed six kittens for maybe a few weeks.
What goes in, comes out… budget for extra litter costs too. This can easily cost close to $100 or more depending on how many cats you have.
All in all - spaying and neutering cats isn’t just the right thing to do morally. It also makes financial sense.