Cats: Early Spay or Neuter

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This article is posted as part of PGAA’s curation efforts. This was originally posted at Alley Cat Rescue

 

Early Age Spay/Neuter

At what age should kittens be spayed or neutered?

Traditionally, veterinarians sterilized kittens around 6 months of age. However, studies have shown that early-age spay/neuter surgery between 8 and 16 weeks of age is safe. Early-age spaying also helps decrease cat overpopulation. A female cat can become pregnant as young as 4 months old and could have her kittens before some veterinarians would even recommend spaying.

Benefits of early-age spay/neuter

  • Younger animals recover from surgery more quickly than older ones do; they experience less blood loss and far fewer postoperative complications than adult cats do.
  • Eliminates risk of pyometra (infection of the uterus)
  • Reduces risk of cervical, uterine, and mammary cancer
  • Reduces risk of prostatic enlargement and disease in males
  • Reduces the risk of testicular cancer in males
  • Reduces urination or territorial spraying
  • Reduces aggression and roaming behaviors
  • Reduces risk of transmitting FIV; reduces males fighting for territory and mates
  • Leads to a longer life span
  • Helps curb cat overpopulation

Misconceptions about early age spay/neuter

Misconception: It is healthy for a female cat to have a litter of kittens before she is spayed.
Truth: There is no medically proven benefit to allowing females to have a litter of kittens. In fact, female cats who are spayed before their first heat are usually healthier and have a reduced risk of breast and uterine cancer. Additionally, euthanasia is the leading cause of death in cats. Early age spay/neuter will greatly reduce the number of kittens being born and prevent countless cats and kittens from being euthanized at shelters.

Misconception: Kittens cannot get pregnant prior to 6 months of age.
Truth: Kittens can become pregnant as early as 4 months of age and give birth to their first litter when they are only 6 months old. Endorsed by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), many veterinarians are opting to spay and neuter kittens as early as 2 months old. These young animals recover from surgery more quickly than do older ones, and they experience less blood loss and far fewer postoperative complications than do adult cats.

Misconception: Spaying or neutering a cat early in age results in behavioral issues.
Truth: Spaying or neutering a kitten early in age can actually curb certain behavioral issues such as territorial spraying/urinating and aggression.

Organizations that endorse early-age spay/neuter

  • American Animal Hospital Association
  • American Humane Association
  • American Veterinary Medical Association
  • American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
  • Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights
  • Spay USA

References

  • Banfield Pet Hospital. State of Pet Health 2013 Report. Annual report. Portland, Oregon, 2013. http://www.stateofpethealth.com/Content/pdf/Banfield-State-of-Pet-Health-Report_2013.pdf.
  • Howe, Lisa M., Margaret R. Slater, Harry W. Boothe, H. Phil Hobson, Theresa W. Fossum, Angela C. Spann, and W. Scott Wilkie. “Long-Term Outcome of Gonadectomy Performed at an Early Age or Traditional Age in Cats.” Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 217, no. 11 (December 1, 2000): 1661–65. doi:10.2460/javma.2000.217.1661.
  • Kustritz, Margaret V. Root. “Early Spay-Neuter: Clinical Considerations.” Clinical Techniques in Small Animal Practice 17, no. 3 (August 2002): 124–28. doi:10.1053/svms.2002.34328.
  • Nolen, R. Scott. “Study Shines Spotlight on Neutering.” Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association News, October 16, 2013. https://www.avma.org/news/javmanews/pages/ 131101a.aspx.

Articles originally posted by AlleyCatRescue Like us on Facebook!Alley Cat Rescue (ACR) works to protect cats on several levels: locally through rescue, rehabilitation and adoption of cats and nationally through a network of Cat Action Teams, called CAT. ACR is dedicated to the health, well-being and welfare of all cats: domestic, stray, abandoned and feral. Help the ACR kitties by making a donation or shopping online! http://www.saveacat.org/donate.html