If you have recently acquired a kitten, you may be wondering when it is safe to spay or neuter. Our Pico Rivera vets explain what the best age is to spay or neuter a kitten and why spaying or neutering your cat not only prevents unwanted litter but can help to curb many unwanted behaviors.
Should you get your cat fixed?
Approximately 3.2 million cats enter US animal shelters every year according to the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals).
The absolute best way to help reduce the number of unwanted cats in Pico Rivera area shelters is by spaying or neutering your cat.
However, the advantages of spaying and neutering your pet do not end with population control. Getting your kitten fixed may help to reduce the risk of your cat developing a number of serious health conditions as well as curtail many undesirable cat behaviors.
What is the difference between spaying and neutering?
When we talk about getting a companion animal 'fixed' we are using a blanket term that covers both the spaying of female animals and the neutering of male animals.
Spaying Female Cats
When a cat is spayed, the uterus and ovaries, or sometimes just the ovaries, of the female cat are surgically removed.
After your cat has been spayed, she will not be able to have kittens.
Neutering Male Cats
Neutering, or castration as it is sometimes called, involves the removal of the male cat's testes.
Having your male cat neutered will prevent him from fathering kittens.
Benefits of Spaying Your Female Cat
Your tiny little kitten may be mature enough to have her own kittens before she is even six months old. By spaying your female cat before she reaches reproductive age, you can help to reduce the number of unwanted cats in your neighborhood.
Not only that, female cats can have as many as four litters a year. When we consider that the average litter can range in size from two kittens (from a young mother) to as many as ten kittens, that is a staggering number of unwanted cats.
Spaying your kitten before her first heat can help to reduce her risk of pyometra (womb infection) and mammary tumors. It's also worth noting that female cats carrying infectious diseases can pass the disease on to their kittens, who can then spread the disease even further. Pregnancy and the birth process can be dangerous for young cats and expensive for their owners.
Cats are estimated to kill between 1.4 billion and 3.7 billion birds in the United States each year. Reducing the number of homeless cats can help to save the lives of countless birds and other wildlife.
Deter Nuisance Behaviors
Female cats that have not been spayed will go into heat on a regular basis throughout the year, attracting male cats from all over the neighborhood to your home and garden. Unneutered male cats prowling around your property looking for your female can be a nuisance because these males have a proclivity to spray, fight, and caterwaul. Male cats can be kept out of your backyard if your female cat is spayed.
Benefits of Neutering Your Male Cat
While male cats do not have kittens, one unneutered male cat in your neighborhood can cause many female cats to become pregnant. That is why, when it comes to population control, neutering male cats is just as important as spaying females!
Neutering your male cat may help to slow the spread of serious cat diseases such as the Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) and the Feline leukemia virus (FeLV), which are frequently transmitted between cats during fights. Neutering cats can help reduce aggression and may result in fewer injuries from fighting. Neutered males also tend to stay closer to home, which reduces their risk of being hit by a car.
Deter Undesirable Behaviors
Unneutered male cats tend to spray more inside the home than neutered males and can be aggressive to their owners. Having your male kitten neutered while he is still young can help prevent these behaviors from developing. Furthermore, unneutered male cats frequently roam large areas in search of unspayed females to mate with. These males will spray to mark their territory and frequently fight with other male cats, which can be annoying, noisy, and stinky.
When is the Best Time to Spay or Neuter a Kitten?
Every pet is unique and your vet will be able to advise you on when you should get your cat spayed or neutered. However, typically kittens can be spayed or neutered at about four months old.
You might be wondering when it is too late to spay or neuter a cat. Don't fear. Adult cats can also be spayed or neutered. So you don't have to worry about how old a kitten has to be fixed because it can happen at any age.