I think this is a very fair question particularly in relation to female cats. The video on this page concerns finding out if your female cat has been spayed. The veterinarian suggests that you take your cat to a veterinary clinic to provide you with the answer, which may not appeal to a lot of people for obvious reasons. You may be able to see a faint post-op scar when you part the fur in the middle of the abdomen. However, sometimes the vets enter the body from the side, the flank, which complicates matters a lot when looking for a faint scar.
Fiddling around with a cat’s belly fur may be tricky too! But it is certainly worth a try because the scar may be fairly obvious. The experts also say that you might be able to feel the scar because it presents as a slightly raised area of scar tissue. So, a combination of feeling and looking may help you detect this scar on the abdomen.
Please read the section below about tattooing which I think is quite enlightening.
The spaying operation is quite invasive and involves the removal of the female’s reproductive system (the removal of both ovaries and the entire reproductive tract down to the level of the cervix) whereas for the male cat, the operation is much more straightforward, as you probably know. It is the removal of the cat’s testes which are visible on the backside of a male cat. If they aren’t visible, they are not there and if they aren’t there, he has been neutered. It seems very straightforward but it might not be completely obvious to a newcomer to cat ownership. if in doubt it may be wise to see your veterinarian. I realise that this is not something that a cat owner wants to do.
If your cat is a former community or colony cat who was looked after by volunteers under a TNR program, he/she may have his left ear tipped which indicates that he has been through the sterilization operation and been vaccinated. This would be a nice confirmation of the fact that they have been sterilized.
Note: This is a video from another website. Sometimes they are deleted at source which stops them working on this site. If that has happened, I apologise but I have no control over it.
It may surprise readers to know that sometimes the experts make a mistake in deciding whether a female cat has been spayed; sometimes they perform the operation twice, not realising that the cat has already been through it. This is why, in America, since 2010, the Association of Shelter Veterinarians, Veterinary Medical Care Guidelines for Spay-Neuter Programs has recommended that veterinarians place a “simple green linear tattoo to identify all neutered pet animals.”
This indicates that it applies to both male and female cats. This simple procedure apparently is not well-known and neither is it used a lot. I understand that two veterinarian interns carried out a research project to find out how often it was used. Dr. Julie Levy and Dr. Meghan Mielo said that many shelter veterinarians were frustrated at how frequently they end up doing unnecessary surgery on animals that had already been spayed.
As I understand it, their research indicated that only 30% of veterinary schools included tattooing as a requirement. Only 5% of the private veterinary practices that they surveyed used tattoos after the sterilisation operation.
The information is enlightening and supports the view that it can be tricky for both vet and cat owner to tell whether the female cat has been neutered.
It is likely that there won’t be tattoo based on the research and therefore you will be normally be looking under the fur for a faint scar in the middle of the abdomen. You may be able to feel slightly raised scar tissue as mentioned. They say the scar can almost disappear which makes it very hard to spot.
A spayed female cat will also behave differently. She won’t come into heat and therefore this should be confirmation of the operation. Male cats also behave differently after the procedure but the change is less obvious.
In the video, the veterinarian says that vets shave the cat to check for that elusive spaying scar. This, once again, points to the difficulty in spotting this hard-to-see scar. Good luck.
SOME MORE ON SPAYING AND NEUTERING: