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Hi all,

My Bella is 12 weeks old and as a responsible pet owner I am looking into getting her spayed. I am a college student so cost is a bit of an issue. All of the really good private vets in my town are charging $50-60 dollars for an office visit plus $80 for blood work prior to the spay and another $300 the day of the spay for the surgery. None are offering payment plans. I looked into Banfield at PetSmart and admit their wellness plan is attractive, but I'm hesitant to take her their for spaying based on a number of comments I've read about them. My local SPCA will not spay her since she wasn't feral and I didn't get her from them :(

An alternative i have found that is within a reasonable distance are the Shenandoah Valley Spay and Neuter Clinic as well as the Richmond Prevent a Litter Veterinary Hospital that both offer reduced price spaying for $50. My question to everyone is have you used a similar facility for spaying/neutering and is this a good option? While I care about the cost, I also want what is medically safe and best for her. LAstly, what are your thoughts on age for spaying? Most vets are saying 4-6 months and at least 4 lbs while I know others including the SPCA are advocating earlier spaying (2 lbs and 12 weeks) for reduced recovery time. Her mom went into heat early at 4 months old. Any comments are appreciated, Thanks!
 

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Thank you for doing the responsible thing.
I would have no hesitation taking Bella to the Shenandoah Valley S&N Clinic; in fact, seems to me they would be the preferred place over a regular vet for the simple reason of volume and experience. Ditto, Richmond Prevent a Litter. Sometimes the vets who work at the low cost S&N clinics are volunteers; their day job is at the higher-priced private vets. They do it for the principle, not the money.
I think the early the cat is spayed, the better: quicker recovery time and Bella doesn't have to go through heat cycles. Two pounds/12 weeks is fine. And is becoming more common. I TNR (trap-neuter-return) regularly, and use two places; both places will S/N if the cat is two months old (sometimes younger if the cat appears healthy because with ferals, you only get once chance.)
April 27th is Free Feral Cat Spay [Neuter] Day. Call the clinics listed in your area to see if your cat qualifies and to make an appointment.
Alley Cat Rescue – The National Cat Protection Association
 

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I took my little boy to the local discount spay and neuter place and it only cost me $20. He was out in a few hours, happy, had a tattoo and was up and running later in the day. These places are great providers of affordable S & N.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks guys for the comments. I called both places to get more details and have a few more questions to pose to you. I'm leaning towards taking my Bella to the one in Richmond. While there are a ton of positive reviews for both, the one in Shennandoah does 300 animals a day, provides metacam for pain relief (No way I'm giving that to my kitty), and when I asked about the facilities (because being around 300 other animal is going to be very stressful for my already anxious little girl) they finally said that she would be sedated and not know where she is. That was not reassuring. The Richmond location does about 20 animals a day which is much more reasonable and they provide an emergency phone number for you to call in case there are any questions or problems afterwards. My only concern with Richmond is that apparently they don't routinely provide pain medication post-op. For an extra $10 (the spay is $35) I can have my Bella receive one injection of Torbagesic for post op pain. I'm definitely going to pay the extra $10, but should I feel a bit uneasy about them routinely doing it without pain meds? How painful is spaying? Also as an aside do you all recommend that I get any pre-op labs at my regular vet prior to going? The one in Richmond will do them for an optional $60 48 hours prior to surgery. Sorry for so many questions but I've never done this beofre and while I want to save some money I want to make sure Bella is receiving the best care. Thanks for your comments.
 

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I have 4 cats, but out of the 4, I have only had opportunity to spay just one female since the other 2 were adopted already altered. I took her to the Humane Society here where I live, which is equitable to the facilities you are pondering. They charged $50. Before the surgery, they do a routine exam of the cat prior to being cleared for surgery. If there is something off, they will do bloodwork, but usually this isn't necessary. Honestly, unless you know the cat is sickly or has a history of symptoms, I feel this is a bit of overkill, but if it makes you feel better, go for it!

As far as the pain meds, they did give her the one shot post-op. After the initial sedative wore off, and the same afternoon I brought her home, she was jumping and bouncing all over the place. I was such a worry wart and she could care less. The next day, it was as if nothing happened at all. Mine was 6 months when I got her spayed.
 

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Hi,

4 of my female cats (and3 of my male cats) were spayed at the "discount" clinic. They do a lot of spay neuter, hence, they have experience and practice!
They do a full exam before, and unless there is what seems like a problem, they do not do any blood tests.
f the cat is found to be healthy, they vaccinate him/her, and set up an appointment for 3 weeks after the vaccination.
I always had excellent results, and none of my cats got infection or complications afterwards.
I also really liked the fact that they insisted I should call them if I had any concerns, they give the info of all the cats who were spayed/neutered that day to the 24 hour clinic to which they transfer the phones when they close, so if something happens overnight, the other clinic has the cats file at hand.
I also always take my cats to this clinic for their shots, and if they need medical treatment.
I find that the service and professionalism at the ''discount'' clinics is much better than at the ''regular vet'', as I had really bad experiences with some ''top of the line clinics''...

sandyrivers
 

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It's probably not malpractice not to do a blood test, but it's surely risky. I've found this quote, word-for-word, on over 10 different sites about cat surgery:

Every cat needs blood testing before surgery to ensure that the liver and kidneys can handle the anesthetic. Even apparently healthy cats can have serious organ system problems that cannot be detected without blood testing. If there is a problem, it is much better to find it before it causes anesthetic or surgical complications. Cats that have minor dysfunction will handle the anesthetic better if they receive IV fluids during surgery. If serious problems are detected, surgery can be postponed until the problem is corrected.
I've also found some forms where you can decline the blood test, but it's strongly recommended that you have it. To me, it's worth the money. If I hadn't had Cinderella's blood work tested prior to her dental cleaning, she probably wouldn't have woken up from the anesthesia. A serious problem was detected, and even though she was gone a month later, I had that extra time with her.
 

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If I can add one other thing to consider -- is Bella already microchipped? If not, I'd strongly recommend you see if you can have that done at the same time as the spay. It will probably cost much less there than at a regular vet, and it makes sense to do it while she's already under anesthesia.
 

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Ahem.

One of my kitties, Fay, was spayed in a rushed operation before she was sold (slavery) by her breeder to my neighbor. They left tissue behind. She was still going in to heat regularly and it increases the risk of breast cancer. The surgery to fix that was dangerous and expensive with a long recovery time.

Spay clinics work high volume, high speed. They use a wire loop thru a small incision and I've heard that Fay's experience is becomming more common. Got the cash? Go for a private Vet. It's easy surgery if the vet isn't rushed by volume.
 

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It's probably not malpractice not to do a blood test, but it's surely risky. I've found this quote, word-for-word, on over 10 different sites about cat surgery:



I've also found some forms where you can decline the blood test, but it's strongly recommended that you have it. To me, it's worth the money. If I hadn't had Cinderella's blood work tested prior to her dental cleaning, she probably wouldn't have woken up from the anesthesia. A serious problem was detected, and even though she was gone a month later, I had that extra time with her.
**THIS!!! Cats are MASTERS at hiding health problems. Always, always, always do some basic labwork prior to anesthesia, its just silly not to. What if your cat it anemic, doesn't have adequate platelettes or has congenital liver or kidney disease that hasn't shown with symptoms yet because she's still small enough to manage. Happens all the time 13 years in medicine, and we catch life threatening problems in routine screening labwork all. the. time. Do it.

Also, absolutely get post operative pain meds. Ask if they can do a buprenorphine injection. Torb is useless and wears off in an hour or less, but it is better than nothing. A spay is a major procedure that involved an incision into the abdominal wall and removal of the uterus and ovaries. Its hurts! Ask any human woman who has ever had the procedure. Again, cats are MASTERS at masking illness AND pain, doesn't mean it doesn't hurt!

Finally some other questions you should ask before you entrust your baby to a S/N clinic.
*What type of anesthetic is used? Is it injectable only? (Ketamine) if so RUN VERY FAR AWAY AND DON"T LET THEM DO THAT TO YOUR CAT! This is the cheap and dirty way to spay a cat. Ketamine is a paralytic, used by iteself, it imobilizes the cat so it won't move, but it can FEEL EVERYTHING! Lots of S/N clinics use it to cut costs but its barbaric.
*Anesthetics should be a cocktail of meds to sedate, control pain, and restrict movement. THEN they should be maintained on an inhaled anesthetic like Isofluorane or Sevofluorane gas.
*They should have their airway secured by an endotracheal tube.
*They need to have vital signs monitored constantly during the procedure, this includes temperature, blood pressure, blood oxygen saturation levels, heart rate, respiratory rate, at minimum!
*and finally and very importantly, are the animals closely monitored post surgery while they are waking up. 80% of anesthetic deaths occur post-op, after the pet has been put in a cage to "sleep it off". Your cat should be awake, sitting up sternally and holding her head up, able to swallow, etc, before she a tech leaves her side.

I feel like these low cost clinics serve a valuable purpose, but people need to know what they are getting into. The regular vet clinics aren't ripping you off with a more expensive spay, you are getting the safety of appropriate anesthetics and monitoring that cost more but are more humane.

I repeat, do NOT let them just give your cat a hit of ketamine and call it good. She will feel the whole thing.
 

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I have had all but 2 of my cats done in the past at low cost clinics. I prefer the low cost clinic actually. My vet wouldnt spay or nueter cats until they are 4 months old. I personally think that is taking it down to the wire.

Mia was spayed at 6 weeks and 2 lbs. She was a very active kitty when I got her at 7 weeks. My other cats and dogs have always done great getting spayed earlier. They are sometimes playing that afternoon or at least by the next day. You would never have thought they just had surgery.

I know most have said they would have blood work done first but I did not. I could not afford it, too. None of my animals have ever had blood work done but they are checked regularly by the vet. You do what you can do. Hope all is well. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Thanks for all of the feedback. I'm glad you got to spend the extra time with your kitty Marie74. I'm going to get the blood work done at my regular vet prior to getting her spayed. It would put my mind at ease especially since she hasn't had any done since I got her. I think even if things turn out alright it would also be good to just have a baseline for future visits. Our appointment is on May 12 so hopefully all goes well. They do microchip for an extra $30 and I was considering it. They use ResQ. I have only heard of Home again. Does anyone know anything about ResQ? Will it be universally read by any shelter if she happens to get lost?

On another note, I noticed over the last few days her purr sounds a bit congested. She has received 2 rounds of the Distemper combo vaccines. Is there anything else (other than rabies) that I should vaccinate her for? Is it possible for cats to have other Upper respiratory infections or colds?
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Also, absolutely get post operative pain meds. Ask if they can do a buprenorphine injection. Torb is useless and wears off in an hour or less, but it is better than nothing. A spay is a major procedure that involved an incision into the abdominal wall and removal of the uterus and ovaries. Its hurts! Ask any human woman who has ever had the procedure. Again, cats are MASTERS at masking illness AND pain, doesn't mean it doesn't hurt!

Finally some other questions you should ask before you entrust your baby to a S/N clinic.
*What type of anesthetic is used? Is it injectable only? (Ketamine) if so RUN VERY FAR AWAY AND DON"T LET THEM DO THAT TO YOUR CAT! This is the cheap and dirty way to spay a cat. Ketamine is a paralytic, used by iteself, it imobilizes the cat so it won't move, but it can FEEL EVERYTHING! Lots of S/N clinics use it to cut costs but its barbaric.
*Anesthetics should be a cocktail of meds to sedate, control pain, and restrict movement. THEN they should be maintained on an inhaled anesthetic like Isofluorane or Sevofluorane gas.
*They should have their airway secured by an endotracheal tube.
*They need to have vital signs monitored constantly during the procedure, this includes temperature, blood pressure, blood oxygen saturation levels, heart rate, respiratory rate, at minimum!
*and finally and very importantly, are the animals closely monitored post surgery while they are waking up. 80% of anesthetic deaths occur post-op, after the pet has been put in a cage to "sleep it off". Your cat should be awake, sitting up sternally and holding her head up, able to swallow, etc, before she a tech leaves her side.

I asked about the buprenorphine and they said all they had is the torb. They DO NOT use ketamine. I checked and they use a cocktail of sedatives initially and then they maintain with inhaled anesthetics and as such will be intubated. They also start an IV to administer fluids, meds, and for monitoring during surgery. I'm a medical student and have both assisted with surgeries and intubated patients before, so I know that spaying while considered routine is still a major surgery. Alternatively the cost of school is so high these days that my funds are severely limited. I'm looking for a cheaper alternative but want to also ensure the health, safety and comfort to my little girl. If my regular vet or others in the area would work with me on a payment plan this would all be a mute point :( I have asked about Care credit but because the bill would be under $300 at each visit it doesn't qualify. Thanks for your concern for my baby though! If you have any other questions you think I should ask or consider keep them coming!
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I found a local vet that is a cat only vet that was willing to work out a payment plan with me on the cost. I'm extremely happy with them and I know that she will receive excellent care there. They gave her a toy at her last appointment and she didn't protest nearly as much as she did at the other places about being there. She even gave the vet a head butt!
 
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