Early Age Spay / Neuter

Q: What is the best age to spay or neuter a cat?
A: According to the California Veterinary Medical Association, as early as eight weeks old.

Q: Are there many veterinarians who spay/neuter cats at an early age?
A: As the procedure becomes more common. an increasing number of veterinarians are not only performing early-age sterilizations, but actively promoting it among their colleagues and clients.

Q: Is it difficult for veterinarians to spay/neuter young kittens?
A: No. All the feedback from veterinarians performing early-age spay/neuter emphasize how much easier and faster the procedure is when done at very early ages.

Q: What is the position of the California Veterinary Medical Association on early-age spaying/neutering?
A: They strongly support it.

Q: Why don't all veterinarians sterilize cats at an early age?
A: Twenty years ago it was recommended that you don't spay your cat until she has gone through at least one heat period. We now know it is preferable to spay or neuter your animal at an earlier age. And, although I traditional practice has been to postpone the spay/neuter surgery until the animal is at least six months old, there has been a growing movement to perform the surgery at an earlier age. With regard to other animals, pigs are castrated on the fourth or fifth day after birth. Calves, colts and kids are castrated at five to 10 days of age.

Q: Is early-age spaying/neutering safe?
A: Yes, absolutely.

Q:What are the benefits of spaying/neutering cats at eight weeks old?
A: A reduced risk for reproductive disorders and lower risk of mammary carcinoma. Also, the animals seem to tolerate the procedure very well and recover more quickly and painlessly than those sterilized over six months of age. In other words, less surgical trauma, quicker recovery, no separation trauma. and fewer complications as a result of the surgery.

Responses to questionnaires submitted to guardians of 200 randomly selected animals who had been sterilized at six to 12 weeks of age indicated that the guardians reported less aggressive behavior, overweight, and medical problems for those neutered at an early age, compared with those animals who were sexually intact or sterilized after six months old.

Q: Is there any risk involved in spaying/neutering cats at eight weeks old?
A: No.

Q: Would it potentially reduce the immune response of cats if they are spayed/neutered at an early age while being given their original vaccination series?
A: No. According to Dr. Ronald Shultz, an immunologist from the University of Wisconsin Veterinary School, kittens less than four months old still maintain a high level of protection from their mothers. Also, the immune system of kittens is fairly resistant to stress/glucocorticoids. Thus, adverse side effects on the immune system from the early spay/neuter procedure are not anticipated.

Q: How commonplace is early-age spaying/neutering?
A: A number of animal shelters has been sterilizing puppies and kittens for years. The Southern Oregon Humane Society in Medford, Oregon, has been performing early spays and neuters for more than 10 years. And other .humane societies in New York, Florida. Hawaii, Colorado, Vermont, California, and elsewhere have adopted early-age spay/neuter programs.