Can a vet tell if a cat is spayed, without surgery, I mean?

I am possibly adopting a semi-feral cat. As in, the cat has living wild nearby for a year at least, but she seems pretty calm about humans so I’m thinking an abandoned/lost pet.

Anyway. She’ll need a checkup and shots and worming, but what about neutering? Do I just wait and see if she goes into heat? Or can the vet tell at once? I really don’t want to put her through surgery/anesthesia for no good reason.

Dunno - ask your vet when you make the appointment. You’re not the first person to take in a female pet with questionable origins, so this has likely come up for the vet in the past. If they can see a tell-tale scar, that’s usually a sign that she’s probablly (but not definitely) spayed, but the absence of said scar doesn’t necessarily mean she isn’t. (She could have a tiny invisible scar.)

Do they typically tattoo cats when they spay them? On dogs they typically put a tatoo on the belly. Also look at the ears. If an ear is tipped, it is probably a spayed stray.

Aw, good for you, S. But S. This happened to us this past spring, when a cat we’d see peeking out from the woods while we put food in the “Wild Cat” dish, when (the newly named) Sheldon came running out of the woods and climbed into my partner’s lap. It was pretty easy to tell that he was neutered, but well, you know, different parts are easier to see if they’re missing.

We’ve got Shelly to the point where he’ll come in at night because right at the start we gave him canned food if he came home at dusk. Now he rarely leaves the property, but doesn’t like to stay in the house for very long. We insist he comes indoors at night because this area is very rural and dangerous with natural predators, and Sheldon was so obviously somebody’s pet at one point. It’s heartbreaking to know someone is really missing this guy.

Good luck, and thanks for what you’re doing.

At spay/neuter clinics, I’ve seen Princesses become “Princes” when they’re inspected more closely (neutered male).

If the spay/neuter program cut the tip of the ears, that’s another sign the animal (whether male or female) was sterilized. Except some programs are less obvious with the ear tipping than others, so that in some cases (especially if there’s lot of hair) it may be hard to tell if the ear was really surgically cut or not.

Lastly, if they’re shaving the belly for preparation, then yea, they may see the scar of the previous incision.

KG - perhaps you can answer something for me? I’d ask my Dr.Sister, but I don’t feel like calling her right now :wink:

My male cat is neutered (I know this because said sister had her own coworkers do it before foisting this cute but idiotic cat on me, last February) and he still has his scrotum. It seems they took out the testicles, but left enough behind that he is very clearly male (if it makes any difference, he was a 1 year old stinky tom at the time). Is this just a matter of technique/preference? Do some places remove everything and others don’t, or have guidelines changed at some point?
I believe spaying a cat involves removal of both the uterus and ovaries, so I presume the lack thereof (or presence) would be visible on an x-ray (what about ultrasound? Is it precise enough?). It might be cheaper to simply shave and look for a scar, but I assume that’s also an option.

mnemosyne, the scrotum is typically left on male cats and only the testicles removed.

Both of my cats were adopted as adults from the local SPCA or county shelter, so their spay status was in doubt. The vet shaved their tummies and, in both cases, found the scar.

Then how on earth are “princes” confused for “princesses”? Are people really that bad at anatomy? I know when they are really, really young it might be hard to tell, but after a couple of months it’s rather obvious, no?:confused:

If he was a full sized stinky tom with prominent testicles, then yea, they may be obvious and take a while to shrink.

But if they were neutered when they were still itty bitty cute little kitties, then there’s not much of a scrotum left (if any), and the cat still has plenty to grow (ie, the scars will disappear and the skin that would be the scrotum is not expanded as it would be in the case of an older cat).

So I suspect the Princesses who become Princes were neutered when they were furballs and went on to live semi-feral until adopted (or semi-adopted) by other humans who didn’t know of his surgery. Hence, no real tomcat looks, and no big scrotum.

Oh, and uteri and ovaries are noticeable in x-rays usually only if there’s something wrong with them that makes them change shape, color, position, or size. Otherwise, they’re small (very small and thin) soft tissue opacity amidst a lot of other soft tissue opacity. Looking for a scar may be cheaper/easier.

Same situation with me, adopted by a semi-feral female about 2 years old. Took her to the vet, she shaved her belly and there was a very faint line. Vet said she was 95% sure she was spayed, but she’d give me a discount on kitten care if she was wrong. :rolleyes: :wink:

Ah, that makes sense, KG. As I type this my boy is walking around on my desk, trying to show off his balls. Yes, yes, Yoshi, I see them :smack:

So, sounds like my little wild one has a belly shaving in her future.

Thanks for the answers!

All of my female dogs have been spayed. None of them have been tattooed or had an ear clipped.

Hmm, that’s interesting with the ear notch thing. I actually had this same situation where a feral cat had adopted us and I took her in to be spayed only to get a call 10 minutes later saying that she already was. I assume there was a visible scar, although I don’t think they even shaved her. She’s ridiculously sweet and tame for an allegedly feral cat, so since she was spayed I figured she must have once belonged to someone. But she does have an ear notch, which I thought was just from her time on the mean street. I do know there was a spay/netuer and release program in that area, so maybe she actually was always street cat that just got snagged and spayed.

Did you adopt the dogs and then had them spayed? The ear notches in cats are done in trap/neuter/release programs, or semi-feral cats, not for those with a stable, private owner (even those that go to low-cost clinics).

The idea is to have a very visible way of determining if they’ve already passed through the program and gotten the surgery (and vaccines!). So instead of using resources on a fixed and vaccinated cat, they can release that one and concentrate on others that may need it.

No, all of mine had been spayed prior to my adopting them. I assume they had been spayed by previous owners, though. One I adopted from a rescue group as a three month old puppy and she had just been spayed prior to my adopting her, and even then, no tattoo or ear clip. Most of my dogs were adults, around two or three years old. One was even about ten years old. To the best of my knowledge, none of them had been strays. So thanks for the clarification.