At What Age Should A Cat Be Spayed Or Neutered?

Lucky

Lucky

Lucky Jasper is HUGE! Cassie and Mandy Furby, Lucky and Mia

Good morning everyone. Today I’d like to talk about a subject I’m right in the middle of at this time. On Wednesday, April 6, my 5 month old girls Mandy and Cassie are to be spayed at our local clinic. So I decided to do a little research on the subject and at what age should a cat be spayed or neutered.

First let me add that Cassie was supposed to be neutered. Then the day after I made their appointment, Casper turned his little hiney up in my face as he was eating off of my plate and-you guessed it-Casper’s a GIRL cat! I never thought to look because the shelter had listed Cassie a boy. So Casper is now Cassie.

For those of you not familiar with the way shelters operate as far as spay/neuter is concerned, this will be an eye opening article.

So grab a cup of coffee, make yourself comfortable, and prepare yourself for spay/neuter in the 21st century combined with a history lesson on the subject.

Most shelters enforce the principle that spay/neuter be performed on all cats and kittens before they are adopted out. The exception is if the cat is not likely to survive the surgery due to various infections or is malnourished. This was the case with four of my kittens. Mandy, Cassie, Jasper and Sammy were in very bad shape when I rescued them.

One of my adopted kittens died when spaying was performed on her while she had a horrible URI. I blame the vet, who should have seen she was ill. I never knew this kitten and I’m fortunate Mia and Lucky (the mother and brother) pulled through. It took ten days on antibiotics, an office visit to my vet, and home nebulizer treatments of Albuterol.

When spaying began back in the 1940’s it was a much riskier operation. Most vets of that era dealt with farm animals. It was found that cats who had gone through one estrus (heat cycle) had reproductive parts that were easier to see.

During the 1950's, vets were beginning to embrace the concept of early spay and neuter.

Many older people will still tell you a cat should at least go through heat before having the surgery. They learned this logic by listening to their parents in the time period where the surgery was very dangerous for a cat. Especially when done by a vet with big hands and crude instruments that were usually used on larger animals.

Others believe a cat should have a litter to “know the joys of motherhood.”

Those dealing with TNR know the disaster this logic has caused. A female cat may go into heat and be impregnated as early as 5-6 months of age. My newest rescues, Sheela and Shirley, age nine months, were both pregnant when they were spayed by the shelter before releasing them to me.

This has also caused a jump in adoption fees. I remember the day when a cat was $10-$12 and the adopter had to pay for all vaccines and surgery out of pocket. The price for a cat package (which includes FIV/FeLV test, microchipping, spay/neuter and flea treatment) will run between $50-$100 depending on which part of the country you live in.

I don’t have a problem with spaying being done on a young cat. I realize most of you are too intelligent for me to have to say this, but here goes. A FEMALE CAT CAN BE GOTTEN PREGNANT BY HER BROTHER OR FATHER. Some people don’t realize this can happen.

Most vets are now in agreement that to prevent the reproduction of cats, a female should be spayed as young as possible. As a general rule, a two month old or two pound kitten is a candidate for surgery.

Let me say I’m in total agreement with spaying a female before the first estrus cycle. Kittens shouldn’t be having babies and the actions of a female cat in heat are totally nerve wrecking.

There’s also a lower percentage rate of cancer in spayed females.

I don’t imagine Mandy and Cassie will praise me for my decision Wednesday because it’s a painful operation for the female. I know I’m doing the best thing for my cats. Not to mention the cat population problem.

Now for the neutering of male cats, which is where I have my problem. While researching this subject I learned a four month old male kitten can impregnate a female cat in heat. Perhaps that is one reason shelters neuter the young males. It’s a much less painful operation for the males and post-op time is shorter.

I had Furby neutered at five months of age. I didn’t HAVE to since he was rescued by me out in the middle of nowhere. I chose to do him young before he started spraying to mark his territory.

Information on the internet basically backs up everything I’ve learned over the years as to the age this starts. Keep in mind spraying is not a litter box problem and is done as a way to show dominance in a household. The cat may be anywhere between 5-12 months old when this starts.

Mia’s son Lucky was neutered at three months old before being rescued at GCAC in Greenville, SC.

Chances are if any of the readers in the U.S. go into a shelter to adopt a cat or kitten, the surgery is required or you can’t adopt the cat.

Now I’d like to explain my problem. Sit down readers and prepare yourself for a good laugh as to why I’m complaining. My problem really isn’t funny, but a part of me can’t stop laughing.

Furby has a little head. His head never grew after he was neutered. And Lucky is even worse. He has gone from being a chunky little kitten to a very sleek and slim cat with one exception: a TINY head. My daughter and I have even nicknamed him “Little Head.” And he even answers to that now.

There’s nothing physically wrong with Furby and Little Head-I mean Lucky. They play the same, they eat the same, they sleep the same.

References I’ve checked on the internet confirm the small head is caused by neutering at a young age. Without getting into a bunch of medical terms, the head doesn’t grow and the skin doesn’t get thick, whatever that means.

Now for my dilemma. Jasper and Sammy, brothers to Mandy, need to be neutered. But at what age should my cats have the operation? They’re five months old now, not spraying yet, and after Wednesday there will be no unaltered females in the house. The males I cared for in the past were done at around a year old.

There’s no reason not to do them as far as safety is concerned. It’s a very easy procedure these days. The clinic I use can operate on more males than females during clinic hours and schedule appointments accordingly.

Take a look at the above photo showing Furby, Mia and Lucky. Lucky was a chunky kitten the day we brought him home in December. Now he reminds me of an Egyptian cat statue. Furby has a strange look on his face since this was the moment he met the new arrivals. They had been in quarantine for several days because of the URI and this was their first day out with the general population. We usually introduce newcomers over a plate of canned food. Everyone is too busy eating to fight.

Please advise me, dear readers. Sammy is the normal size for a five month old male. Jasper is a different story. He’s already larger than Furby. I don’t want to be dealing with a giant cat with a head the size of a baseball. It just wouldn’t look right.

Help me readers. Do any of you have bobble-headed cats from neutering too young? Does the U.S. perform the surgery at too young an age (one friend of mine said we do)? Should shelters allow adopters to wait on neutering male cats? I'm curious at what the readers at pictures-of-cats think.

Elisa

Associated pages:

Cheap neutering is needed to contain stray cat problem

Trap Neuter Return

[References:}

http://www.catsofaustralia.com
http://www.columbusdogconnection.com
http://cats.about.com/
http://web.archive.org/web/20081216031114/http://www.vmth.ucdavis.edu:80/

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At What Age Should A Cat Be Spayed Or Neutered?

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Apr 08, 2011
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One example
by: Ruth

http://pictures-of-cats.org/declawed-cat-is-untouchable.html

This breaks my heart, if I was in the USA I'd adopt Vincent and a lot more like him for sure.

Kattaddorra signature Ruth


Apr 08, 2011
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To anonymous
by: Ruth

Go to Petfinder.com and enter your area you will see thousands of cats needing homes. Pedigree cats, young cats, old cats, large cats, small cats, clawed cats, declawed cats, all dumped by the people they trusted.
There are photos and descriptions of them all.
Giving one of those needy cat a home could save his/her life.
I love The Sound of Purring too !
Good luck, it's wonderful having cats in your life,

Kattaddorra signature Ruth


Apr 08, 2011
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A Cat of My Own
by: Anonymous

I found an answer...here...
Fixing a cat "does" make a difference in the appearence of the boys, face. poor fellas.
Then there's the spraying, how can you stop that?

I don't have a cat..yet. I want a large cat. I Love the "Sound of Purring" yes it's the sound of music. There is nothing like it. it's soothing to the soul.

I have e'mailed 3 breeders & only 1 answered telling me she didn't have any & where to find breeders who may have kittens.

I respect breeders, they have a skill of their own & weary over their kittens if they will have good homes.

One day I will have a cat of my own.


Apr 04, 2011
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Male Faces
by: Anonymous

I see a lot of comments on this one!! I have 2 males and 3 females. My oldest male (5 years) was neutered later, at about 2 years. He has a very full face. He was always a "husky" built boy, and still is. My younger male (1 and 1/2) was neutered at about 7 months. He was already sexually mature and had gotten his sister (littermate) pregnant when they were not even 6 months old. Having her spayed while pregnant was a very difficult decision to make and I wouldn't wish it on anyone. He was still a young kitten when he was neutered with a slim build. His face is very full now. He still 'looks' like a boy. He is a healthy weight, but his face just screams "I am a boy!"


Apr 04, 2011
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To Ruth
by: Ruth

Ruth to try to put it simply, a male cat's testicles are in furry pouches, the vet makes a slit in each and pulls out the testicles and attachments. They rarely need stitches in and heal up quickly. So what you are feeling is the empty pouches which eventually flatten out.
Maybe Monty is extra furry down there ?
The penis isn't touched at all during the operation.
Hope that helps.

Kattaddorra signature Ruth


Apr 03, 2011
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I still call her Casper half the time
by: Elisa

And my daughter calls her Blackie. Laura doesn't like me naming the cats. She named Jasper.

I had a cat for over 10 years and had her shots and everything. She lived with my mama until mama got sick. Then she came to live with me. At the next vet visit in her new town I mentioned how the people who had her must have had her fixed. The vet looked at me and said "this is a castrated male."

I've always had friendlier boy cats. Now I seem to be getting friendlier girl cats. I don't know if its because the cats know I saved their life or what. At night I have Mandy, Lucky, Sheela and Shirley sleeping in the bed with me. Furby never was a bed cat and Lola and Jasper belong to Laura. Gizzy sleeps with Laura sometimes or stays on the couch.

What's something is I'll pick a cat to rescue or Laura will pick. But the cat makes the final decision of who it wants to stay with.

I'm working on an adoption page for the website as I need to adopt some out to take more in. If you look on Facebook under GCAC SC Urgent in the Safe album for April, I'm getting Meadow next week. She looks so absolutely defeated by life that I just have to have her. After I work Monday I'll be off until 3am Friday morning and I'm gonna have my hands full with 3 spayed females to care for because Meadow will be spayed before I bring her home.

I'll ask Laura if I can change Cassie back to Casper. My daughter just shakes her head at me these days anyway.


Apr 03, 2011
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Questions
by: Ruth (Monty's Mom)

Monty was neutered at about 12 weeks, give or take. When I adopted him from animal control they informed me in no uncertain terms, "You will bring him back on this day to be neutered." I can understand that. They deal with the sad reality of pet overpopulation every day.

We always had female cats when I was a kid. At the farm we actually would put back the male kittens and try again to catch a female. We believed the females made better pets. The only male we ever had was because we couldn't catch any female kittens that day. So is this true? Are female cats better pets? We thought the males wouldn't be as likely to be lap cats. Monty doesn't snuggle the way I remember other cats doing, but maybe that's just him and has nothing to do with gender.

Elisa, I would have left Cassie as Casper. My friend Wendy's cat Tommy is still Tommy, despite a similar situation. Casper is the coolest name in the world for a little black cat, and she looks like a little spooky ghost. Who cares if her name is gender appropriate. It's not like the kids at school are going to tease her. The other cats love her just the same. "A rose by any other name..." Would you consider changing her back to Casper? Or maybe Caspera to sound more feminine-- unless that sounds like a disease. Kind of sounds like an ancient Roman name, maybe too formal for a little cat. Or perhaps you should not take cat naming advice from someone as bad at naming cats as I am. My sister named Monty.

And lastly, though neutering is castration, why does Monty still have his equipment? I actually asked at the vet, thinking somehow animal control had messed up and missed doing him. The vet felt him and said that Monty had been neutered. But just looking at him down there, he looks like the male cat I had as a child who was not neutered. He also does have a small head, like Furby, but he's a small cat, so he seems proportional.


Apr 03, 2011
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Maybe
by: Elisa

Maybe the vet secretaries use those terms to remember to charge more for the female to be operated on. If you call a clinic around here and say neuter they're going to give you the price for a male. I remember the first cat I took in back around 1984 the secretary asked me if it was going to be a spay or neuter when she made the appointment. I was pretty stupid back then and asked her what was the difference. Do any other countries separate the terms or is it a U.S. thing?


Apr 03, 2011
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It certainly is neutering in the UK
by: Anonymous


Apr 03, 2011
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yes
by: Anonymous

Therefore desexing her....neutering.
The testicles of a male are equivalent to the ovaries of a female.Castration desexes him.
Spay or castrate = neuter
ergo


Apr 03, 2011
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Dictionary
by: Elisa

I got curious and looked it up in the dictionary and spay means to remove the ovaries of an animal


Apr 03, 2011
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It beats me too
by: Anonymous

It beats me too Ruth why they say spay or neuter when both sexes are neutered!
Crazy!


Apr 03, 2011
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Lucky
by: Elisa

Isn't Lucky adorable?! I went straight to bed last night when I got home since I had to be up at 5am. I had Lucky, Shirley, Sheela and Mandy in the bed with me. I don't even have to carry them in there. They follow me to bed.


Apr 03, 2011
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All I know
by: Elisa

Is we're going to be playing nurse to three females on Wednesday because I don't think Meadow has been fixed so she'll have that done before I can take her home. Then Mandy and Cassie go on Wednesday. The pic on here of Mandy and Cassie was made before they became sleeping buddies. Now Mandy "spoons" he and throws a paw over her shoulders. They have to go to the clinic in separate carriers but they can be put into the same carrier once its over. I like the clinic here because females get to come home the same day. I'll have to keep them confined overnight but that's no problem. We can convert the bathtub into a sleeping area in about 5 minutes.


Apr 03, 2011
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All I know
by: Elisa

Is we're going to be playing nurse to three females on Wednesday because I don't think Meadow has been fixed so she'll have that done before I can take her home. Then Mandy and Cassie go on Wednesday. The pic on here of Mandy and Cassie was made before they became sleeping buddies. Now Mandy "spoons" he and throws a paw over her shoulders. They have to go to the clinic in separate carriers but they can be put into the same carrier once its over. I like the clinic here because females get to come home the same day. I'll have to keep them confined overnight but that's no problem. We can convert the bathtub into a sleeping area in about 5 minutes.


Apr 03, 2011
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Why ?
by: Ruth

Why not the real terms spay and castration instead of spay and neuter I wonder ?
I've seen people pulling others up saying females can't be neutered.
They can !


Apr 03, 2011
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I didn't know
by: Elisa

I didn't know the kitten was sick before the surgery. I was told to pick them up and when I arrived they hadn't been brought back from Petco where the surgery is done. The delivery service man brought Mia and Lucky through the front door and was explaining to the shelter worker that the gray kitten had died and he was afraid Mia and Lucky were going to die. We were lucky we were able to nurse them back to health.

The terms spay and neuter have been separate in the U.S. I know since the 1980's. Maybe it's just the way it is to differentiate the male from the female surgery.


Apr 03, 2011
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My thoughts
by: Ruth

I've been retired from vet nursing for a few years now and things have moved on but it does worry me when I read of very young kittens being neutered. I hope plenty of research has been done as to how it will affect them in the future.
It was always the golden rule at the practices I worked that females had to be at least 5 months old and males 6 months unless they were very sexually mature before that age and I stick to that even now.
All our males have been neutered at 6 months and have still had/have manly head and shoulders, but not the pit bull terrier head and shoulders of un-neutered toms.
No Michael, castration was never done without a general anesthetic,I hope it still isn't as it would be cruel to expect a male of any species to lie still while his testicles were injected with local anesthetic and then removed.
What puzzles me is that since I retired the terms spay/neuter have cropped up, after all, they mean the same thing. Neutering is desexing, spaying a female, castrating a make, so why use two terms nowadays ? We booked all cats in for neutering and that ensured their sex had to be checked and no mistakes made cutting open male cats clients thought were female.
I'm glad I'm retired now because things were so much simpler in those days !

Kattaddorra signature Ruth


Apr 03, 2011
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Spay/Neuter
by: Anonymous

Hi Elisa

I totally applaud your stance, especially on shelter cats. I have done rescue for more than 20 years, & I think what you're seeing is probably the exception rather than the rule. In 20 years I have altered HUNDREDS of cats/kittens at the base weight of 3 pounds, or 12 weeks, whichever came first depending on the vet. I have never experienced anything negative later on down the line, nor have I ever had an adopter come back to me with this concern or complaint. I have also spayed many in heat females as well as pregnant females. When they are in heat or pregnant, it makes everything easier to see yes, but it's also a riskier surgery because everything is engorged with blood in there, which can obscure the vet's vision. So far as the male's head size, with the feral/stray cats, FIV infection can also cause that full fat look, so it becomes a point of concern to me when I see that. And, with FIV, there is no cure.

I also breed a very rare breed of purebred cat, the Turkish Angora. I alter my pet kittens going to new homes at 16 weeks, which is how long I keep them before I feel they are ready to leave their mothers & siblings. I have never had a problem with small heads on my Turks doing it this way, & several of the kittens I have had altered early have gone on to have very successful show careers, with no disparity in head to body size. My breed matures fully at 2 years of age, but the Siamese family of breeds matures a lot earlier, therefore a lot of those breeders will alter at 12-16 weeks depending on the weight of the kitten in question. The large breeds of cats, the Maine Coon, Ragdoll, Ragamuffin, Siberian, Norwegian Forest Cat, the Persian family, & some bloodlines of American Shorthair, mature very slowly, some not reaching full size & maturity till age 5, tend to wait till the kittens are 6-9 months old before they spay/neuter because of that slow growth & development.

Basically, it's ultimately between the owner & their vet. If the kitten is healthy enough to go through the surgery, I see no harm in it. So far as the kitten with URI that passed away, if you knew the kitten was sick, it shouldn't have been sent in to be done. I will call the clinic & push back appointments for 2 weeks on anything that breaks with URI so I can treat it before it goes in. Thankfully though, my clinic intubates every pet that has surgery done, no matter what that surgery is, & i have never lost one on the table like that, although I do know people who have. BUT, those clinics were not in the practice of intubating the pets either. Food for thought, yes?


Apr 03, 2011
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Spaying is a must
by: Elisa

I'm afraid spaying is a must for me. Remember I live in the country. Even with no males inside of the house who are capable in making the girls pregnant, I hate the sound a cat makes in heat.

As if that's not bad enough, when I have a female in heat, I can look out my window and every tomcat within a 2 mile radius is at my door with wine and roses for the lady cat. Then the lady cat tries to sneak out anytime the front door is opened.


Apr 03, 2011
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Cat facial structure and neutering
by: Grahame

I had to neuter a male cat at the time I repatriated him to the USA when I also returned there. My European vet apologised to me for neutering such a handsome cat, but he said that at least we had waited until his facial structure had matured such that he had a ruff, jowls, and a solidly configured head. In the seventeen years that cat lived, he did revert a little to a more immature head confuguration.


Apr 03, 2011
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More
by: Michael

I have just read that there are more potential health problems with spaying and neutering than I had thought:

Increased risk of prostatic cancer in males (presumed cats and dogs) and obesity, diabetes, urinary tract infections, urinary incontinence, and hypothyroidism and for large dogs increased risk of hip dysplasia. (src:

It is not all upside, far from it.


Apr 03, 2011
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She/He Confusion
by: snoopy

That's interesting. A stray who came for feeding was dubbed Miss Kitty, until I saw "her" spraying one time. Then, "she" became "Mr. Kitty". I was still unsure for some time, since the facial structure was more feminine, but the attitude was definitely male. He/she had come up to me the first time in a forthright way and chased away most of the other strays, acting very male-like. It wasn't obvious that he had his male bits, further adding to the confusion. Then, he gained so much weight I thought "he" was pregnant and even created a bedding box for "her". My husband had a good laugh at that one.

It had me confused for many months. The size and forthright attitude, the territorialness pointed to male attributes, but the face, such a beautiful face, not jowly at all with a lack of any evidence of male parts made him appear as a "strong" female.

Finally I figured out she must be a he who was already neutered.

He was a great cat, though he could be cantankerous and feisty. Sometimes he would give love bites, or "leave me alone" bites. He would follow around wherever I went and made himself at home, spreading out on the best outside chairs. I seldom let him in because he was a sprayer.

Recently, our German Shepherd Dog came home after a year. Mr. Kitty left and I haven't seen him since. With his personality, he probably has commandeered another spot in someone's home and heart. I do hope so, he was a wonderful cat. I will post some pictures and story about him some time.


Apr 03, 2011
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Good Question
by: Michael

This is a good question. About male cats. I feed an unneutered, stray male cat, I call him, Timmy.

You can tell he is unneutered without looking at his rear end because he is jowly. He has thick cheeks and a squarer more solid, male looking face.

No one mentions (until Elisa..) that neutering male cats makes them more effeminate! It is true.

I know we have to neuter and spay for pragmatic and practical reasons but a male cat loses some of his maleness when it is done. Hell, he loses all his male-cathood.

And I love that male whole cat look. It is the real thing.

Breeders who show cats have to enter their unneutered (unaltered) cats in a different category to neutered cats because they look different and behave differently.

Neutering is not just simply castration it goes much further than that.

The changes can be subtle so people don't really see it clearly but the most obvious change as mentioned is the loss of the jowly, male looking face.

I should get Timmy neutered but I don't want someone to cut off his balls! Sorry for being a bit rude....

Personally, Elisa, if your boys are not spraying or being too territorial and causing problems, I favour waiting a bit as it might limit the alteration to the facial appearance.

One last thought: thinking laterally as I do, in theory and in general (nationwide) we don't need to spay the females provided all the males are neutered.

As neutering is easier (the vets don't even give pain killers etc. - I am not sure if they give a general anesthetic routinely) there is an argument that the focus should be on neutering all the nation's male cats.

It would halve the cost.

Michael Avatar



Comments

At What Age Should A Cat Be Spayed Or Neutered? — 2 Comments

  1. This comment was moved from the home page. It is by gabriel altunel

    Our little girl Cinnamon has given birth after the two months she’s been with us while we were trying to look for a spaying center. We are not thinking of giving them to a shelter, however, we will give them to compassionate cat lovers whom will give them a good home, meaning we’ll look for a home for the kittens once they grow alittle. 3 were born and they are all healthy and sound along with their mommy. My son helped her give birth by cutting their umbilical cords. So far their colors are gray, black, and black and white.

  2. Pingback: Kittens Born Before Mother (Queen) is Spayed | Pictures of Cats

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