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Dear Dr. Jorden: I need to have my cat spayed.

She is about 6 months old now. When will she come into heat the first time?

I think she should also be declawed as she is becoming destructive to our home. Should I have it done at the same time? Is it cheaper that way? Will it be too hard on her to do both surgeries at the same time?

Dear Reader: Six months of age is a good time to have a cat declawed and spayed.

She now has some size to her, and her organs have developed completely.

It has always seemed a lot safer to me to anesthetize a young adult rather than a small kitten. Sometimes it has to be done, but, when there is a choice, I much prefer a 6-month-old.

Cats don’t come into heat at a certain age. They are more seasonal when they begin to cycle.

A lot of cats in our area will come into heat in January or February. They will also often come into heat late in the summer. Some cats, probably because they spend a lot of time in the house, have no rhyme or reason for when they come into heat.

In the southern part of the United States where there are less seasonal changes, cats come into heat all year round.

I would recommend that you do have surgeries done at once.

The declaw is the most stressful to the cat because there is much more pain associated with it. For this reason, I highly recommend that you have it done where laser surgery is available.

The laser’s best benefit is that it seals off nerve endings and also seals the ends of blood vessels. Therefore, when the laser is used, there is little bleeding, much less pain, and quicker recovery. 

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Before the laser was available, many cats that were declawed took weeks to recover and walked around carefully and in pain the whole time. When the laser is used, many cats return to normal in just days and have much less pain.

Some would say that declawing a cat is wrong and should not be done, but I disagree.

Many cats would lose their happy homes when they start destroying furniture or start scratching children in the home. The chance for a lifetime of happy living in the home as compared with being kicked out or euthanized makes a few days of recovery very worthwhile.

It will probably be cheaper to have both surgeries done at once because only one anesthetic has to be given instead of two. Surgery takes longer, but the risk of two anesthetics is greater than a little longer surgery time during only one anesthetic.

These two surgeries have been performed together for all my 30-some years as a veterinarian, and cats do just fine. Again, the laser is the very best way to go.

Dear Dr. Jorden: I keep my 8-month-old cat in our garage. She comes in the house at times but must stay in the garage at night.

It is not heated but doesn’t seem too cold. Is it OK to leave her there?

Dear Reader: Being out of the wind and cold and in the garage helps a lot, and most cats can stand a lot of cold weather.

I would suggest that you at least get a good sleeping box for her. Those that are just bigger than the cat with a small opening make a nice, cozy spot for a cat to sleep. Her body heat will keep her warm in a small area.

A flannel blanket will really give her something to snuggle up into.

If the weather gets really cold (below zero), bring her inside for those few nights we have in our Montana winter.

Have questions about pets? Write to: PetVet; c/o The Billings Gazette; P.O. Box 36300; Billings, MT 59107-6300. Questions of general interest may become topics of future columns.

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