Many people believe that neutering is only needed for cats at least eight weeks old, with some saying it can be done as early as six months of age. While most veterinarians agree that sterilization is important to prevent animals from breeding, they also emphasize that many owners tend to forget about it or are not informed about what kind of procedure is best for their animal.
For example, there are two main types of spaying or castration: partial (or ovariohysterectomy) and complete (or orchiectomy). The choice of which one to do depends on your personal preference and what you know about spays and neuters in general. But unfortunately, not everyone knows which one is better for specific breeds!
Some may also confuse sex change surgeries like those performed on kittens as a spay or neuter, even though these are actually just gender reassignment procedures. These are different than true spays and neuters because they don’t physically alter the reproductive system.
Breed-specific information such as this becomes more important when it comes time to decide if your cat is ready for surgery. Fortunately, there are ways to help you determine whether your kitty is developmentally prepared, so to speak. Here are some tips on how to tell if your kitten is mature enough for surgery.
Reasons to neuter
One of the most important things you can do for your cat is to prevent it from having offspring. If you notice changes in behavior or symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, weight loss, lack of grooming, and/or breathing problems, then it’s time to look into whether or not your kitty needs medical help.
It’s very important to be aware of how old cats need to reach their reproductive stage before they are considered “spayed” or “neutered.” Many shelters will not accept dogs or kittens that have been spayed or neutered unless they are at least one year old.
The same goes for feral colonies! They make sure that all adult ferals are vaccinated and medically checked out before accepting them into care. This way, they know that these animals are stable and won’t put any additional stress on an already overburdened shelter.
Age of castration
While some veterinary experts recommend neutering cats at six months, most will tell you that your cat is not truly mature until they reach two years. At one year, their testes begin to descend and stop moving around up in the abdomen, but they do not completely deflate and drop out like they should. This is why many people suggest waiting for two years so that they can be sure they have fully stopped developing.
However, there are ways to determine if your kitten has actually completed their maturation process. If you happen to notice that your kitten does not seem as playful or active, then it’s best to neuter them early. But there is another way to check.
Research shows that adult female housecats (who have been shown to breed once every three to five years) have a very short birth season. That means that during those few days/weeks of being fertile, they are much more affectionate and social than normal. They also tend to eat more frequently and grow taller due to all of the growth happening inside of them.
Age of spaying
Many veterinary professionals agree that most female cats are at their highest risk to develop reproductive disease around 6-8 years of age.
This is because as females, they can’t physically maintain a pregnancy for 9 months like dogs do!
So when you see an old cat being discussed as a potential breeder or parent, she probably should be given serious consideration as a companion animal rather than a pet because she cannot contribute to her offspring in the way animals with puppies can.
Some experts recommend neutering your cat before she reaches one year to help prevent unwanted kittens from being born. Others suggest waiting until she is two to three years so that she has time to adjust to living without babies.
But no matter which option you choose, make sure to use a vaccine service that uses approved vaccines, sterile equipment and aftercare that matches what your vet will provide you during the surgery.
Happy tails aside, we know that older pets often suffer more health issues than younger ones.
Medical reasons to neuter
One of the main medical reasons for neutering a female cat is to reduce or prevent pregnancy. Most cats are not aware they’re pregnant until around week 6, at which time you can perform a vaginal exam to check. If you find feces in the vagina, then it’s likely that she’s been eating her litter box and passing solid waste, but no urine, signaling she may be experiencing stress (more about this here).
If your cat has never had kittens before, there’s usually some kind of birth control available for use. This is always better than having an unneutered cat who would probably get bred eventually!
Another reason to consider spaying early is to avoid potential breast cancer in older queens. Although most cats live only slightly longer due to mammary tumor disease, those extra few years can make a big difference when determining whether women need to have their own health checked more closely as they approach menopause.
You also should speak with your doctor about how to best care for any remaining reproductive organs after surgery.
Medical reasons to spay
Many animal shelters cannot place older cats in adoptive homes unless they are neutered, as only sex-specific housing is available for them.
Many times, even if you bring home an adult cat that isn’t altered yet, it will find its way into a shelter soon! Shelters are inundated with animals looking for homes, especially during warm seasons when more people want to adopt.
If your girlfriend or fiancé wants to take care of a pet, she should be aware of how old their dog or cat can be before they must undergo surgery.
Some breeds have very specific cutoffs for neuters, but other general guidelines apply instead. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) puts the cutoff at one year for every breed except for dogs where they say two years is the rule. For dogs under one year, most vets will not perform the procedure because there is no hope for successful outcomes.
For many owners, having to put down an elderly pet is the hardest part about adopting. Fortunately, there are ways to help these beloved pets live out their lives in comfort.
Too many kittens
Many cat owners will let their cats run free to play outside or to be an indoor housecat, but this is not a good idea!
Kittens under six months need close supervision as they learn how to walk, self-soothe, and interact with other animals. In fact, it’s illegal in some places to leave your kitten alone until it reaches one year of age.
That’s why most organizations recommend neutering male cats between eight and twelve months and female cats between five and seven years. By doing so, they reduce orphaned litterbox accidents and behavioral issues like aggression towards other dogs and cats.
These timing recommendations are the “standard rule out” for most veterinarians. But what about older females? What if you can’t get your girl spayed before she has kids?
Fortunately, there are ways to help her manage her hormones while still keeping her from having puppies.
Too many cats
Many cat lovers feel that it is impossible to watch a show featuring felines without agreeing to help save them. This passion for all things kitty often leads to spending hours online looking at different types of shelters and ways to get involved.
Many people never actually go through with it, though. After all, how can you be sure that this particular feline will find its way into a new home even if they are not neutered?
The chances are very high that this individual will end up being returned to the shelter or worse, staying in an overcrowded sanctuary where socialization is limited.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing as long as these individuals aren’t put under too much stress, but they must understand that their behaviors have consequences!
By having kittens now, she will likely need to be spayed sooner rather than later, which means more cost for you. But don’t worry, there are ways to prevent such expensive procedures like most animal hospitals offer microchips first nowadays!
Hopefully, your kindness towards animals won’t just stop here when they are old enough to undergo surgery, however! Just because they are older doesn’t mean they will cease to breed.
Microchipping and spaying before six months can prevent unplanned litterboxes and offspring, but unfortunately, some adult cats are still fertile.