Cats: Early Spay or Neuter



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


  • Banfield Pet Hospital. State of Pet Health 2013 Report. Annual report. Portland, Oregon, 2013.
  • 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. 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!