If you decide to adopt a kitten, you will need to decide when to spay or neuter it. If you get your kitten spayed or neutered when it is too young, it can negatively affect the cat. However, if you spay or neuter your kitten too late, you can miss out on some of the benefits that spaying and neutering can provide. In order to figure out if your kitten is old enough to get spayed or neutered, you will need to know your kitten’s age, when the suggested age of spaying and neutering is, and when your veterinarian suggests completing the surgery. With this information, you can get your kitten spayed or neutered at the perfect time.

Over the past several decades, the recommended age for spay (ovariohysterectomy) or neuter (castration) of cats has changed. At one time, the recommended age for spay was after the female cat had a litter, then it changed to after the first heat cycle, and eventually the veterinary profession settled on 6 months of age or older. Given that cats reach sexual maturity at about 5 months of age, more and more people are advocating lowering the spay/neuter age to 4 to 5 months (early spay/neuter) and support early spay/neuter in animal shelters. All of these varied recommendations lead one to question: is there an optimal age at which cats should be spayed/neutered?

There is currently no research to suggest that spaying healthy kittens at 6 weeks old poses a greater risk than spaying kittens at 8 weeks old. There are actually many animal shelters who routinely spay and neuter healthy kittens safely at 1.5 pounds. There is no reported increase in anesthetic or surgical complications in 6 week old kittens versus 8 week old kittens. Research shows that pediatric spay and neutering is safe in kittens, and the Association of Shelter Veterinarians’ 2016 Medical Care Guidelines for Spay-Neuter Programs as well as the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) support the spaying and neutering of animals as young as 6 weeks of age.

The Benefits Of Cat Neutering

Veterinarians who spay or neutered kittens at 2 pounds (typically 2 months old) report that it is an easier, faster procedure. The patients recover quickly and it is the highest level of prevention of litters. Pediatric spay/neuter produces the most prevention per dollar invested.

What Is Cat Neutering?

Neutering means surgically preventing cats from reproducing. In males, the operation is called castration and in females it’s called spaying.

With castration both testicles are removed which takes away the main source of the male hormone testosterone. With spaying, both the ovaries and the uterus are removed which means the female is unable to become pregnant. 

What’s Involved In The Cat Neutering Process?

Both operations are carried out under general anaesthetic. Every surgical procedure has some risk but modern techniques are very safe.

Because it involves surgery, there will be some discomfort but cats are given drugs to control this and most of them are up and about just a few hours after they’ve had their operation.

How Much Does Neutering A Cat Cost?

Costs vary quite a bit depending on the sex of the cat and the individual vet practice so check with your local vet. Several charities, including Blue Cross, offer low-cost neutering so contact your nearest one to find out more.

What Age Can Cats Be Neutered?

Cats become sexually mature from the age of around five months. In order to prevent unwanted pregnancies, it’s recommended that cats are neutered at around four months old, after they have completed their primary vaccinations. Some vets still recommend spaying at five or six months and it’s quite safe to neuter older cats.

Why Should I Get My Cat Neutered?

There are lots of reasons why it’s a good idea. Here’s just a few:

For male cats:

  • Neutering reduces their chance of catching feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), an incurable disease similar to HIV in humans which is spread by saliva usually from bite wounds during fights.
  • Unneutered cats that are confined can become frustrated and may try any escape route – including out of your top floor window.
  • Neutering cats reduces their urge to roam and fight so they’re less likely to go missing, get hit by cars, or get hurt.


For female cats:

  • Spaying cats, especially if it’s done when they’re young, greatly reduces the risk of them getting breast cancer and infection of the womb (called pyometra). Both of these can be fatal.
  • Pregnancy and birth can carry significant risks to a cat.


For you:

  • A female cat can produce up to six kittens, three times a year. That’s a lot of mouths to feed.
  • It can be very stressful trying to make sure your cat doesn’t get pregnant and, if she does, you’ve got the worry of caring for her through her pregnancy, birth and the rearing of her litter. And that’s before the challenge of finding good homes for the kittens.
  • Female cats that aren’t spayed often come into season over and over again, which means they can be almost continuously in heat. This can be exhausting and usually attracts a queue of amorous and vocal tomcats to the house.
  • Unneutered male cats tend to urine-mark their territory, including your house, with a powerful and unpleasant scented urine.

Shouldn’t I Let My Cat Have A Litter Before I Spay Them?

: No. It greatly reduces the risk of certain cancers if you have them spayed before the first heat and certainly before they have a litter.

Most places are overrun with kittens. There are millions of cats and kittens that need homes and millions more that are abandoned. There simply aren’t enough homes for all the cats that get born every kitten season.

Should I Let My Cat Have A Heat Before I Spay Them?

It’s a myth that animals should have a litter or a heat before they are spayed. There are no health benefits to that at all, and it’s a much easier medical procedure if you spay before the first heat. All the benefits you get from spaying or neutering your pet are magnified by spaying or neutering before the animal reaches puberty.

Is It OK To Spay My Cat When They Are Just A Kitten?

A: Yes, as long as they are at least eight weeks of age and weighs at least two pounds. Pediatric spaying and neutering is widely accepted. Those ideas about needing to wait are really antiquated and the evidence is to the contrary. Even the American Veterinary Medical Association supports early spaying and neutering.

Cats can go into heat very early. They can have a litter at six months of age, and they can have three litters a year. Also, if you’ve ever been around a cat in heat, you know it’s miserable for people. They yowl loudly and continuously. They want to get out. It really alters their behavior. And every unneutered male cat in the neighborhood will be at your house spraying your front door. Your whole house will reek of cat spray. It is a really regrettable experience.

It Can Cost More Than A $100 To Get A Cat Spayed Or Neutered. I Can’t Afford That. What Can I do?

A: There are a lot of low-cost options all over the country. ASPCA keeps a database of them on its web site. You can put in your zip code and find all of the options within a certain radius. Click on the “pet care” tab and look for the low-cost and free spay/neuter database.

Don’t Cats Get Fat Once You Spay Or Neuter Them?

A healthy weight goes back to portion control and exercise. I recommend cats be kept indoors, so you should have enough environmental enrichment to keep your cat happy. Have vertical spaces and climbing trees. Provide places where they can hide and play. But portion control is the main thing. Don’t free feed your cat.

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