What is the best age to spay or neuter a kitten?

Original Question: When should I get my kitten neutered? - Toffy

What is the best age to spay or neuter a kitten? Mar 5, 2018

Hi Toffy,

Thanks for your question.

There is a simple answer to this question and a complex one. Most veterinarians would recommend that a cat be neutered at 6 months old. This is an appropriate age of development to undergo the procedure and is still early enough to prevent some undesirable behaviours from developing.

The complex answer is that the ideal time is still under debate. A kitten is fully grown at approximately one year of age. Some people believe that you should wait until maturity before performing a sterilization procedure so that the full growth potential is actualized, however, we do know that male cats have a greater chance of developing undesirable characteristics, such as urine spraying and aggression, closer to the age of maturity.  Most veterinarians recommend that spaying of a female cat should occur at 6 months because it will guarantee that a heat cycle does not occur. There is an extremely well founded and well-known study that proves with every heat cycle a cat experiences, their risk of mammary carcinoma increases significantly. A cat that is spayed at 6 months of age reduces the risk by 91% in comparison to an 11% reduction in a cat spayed at 2 years of age. Spaying after 2 years will not reduce the risk of mammary cancer.

From a large study performed at the University of Georgia, in a publication called UGA today, we know that sterilized pets live longer than unsterilized pets. This would suggest that there is no decrease in ‘health’ by getting a pet sterilized. Beyond that, people hold a variety of cultural and naturalistic views about the theory of sterilizing altogether. It’s most important to realize that this is your cat and you are ultimately responsible for the decision. My recommendation is to take this weight advice and talk to your veterinarian and then determine for yourself what matters most to you.

As a last option, you could keep your cat intact and monitor for signs of undesirable behaviours. If they develop, then you can perform a neuter immediately to improve their behaviour or use behavioral modification techniques with the help of your veterinarian.

All the best.

Dr. Clayton Greenway, B.Sc., DVM

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