When To Spay Or Neuter A Cat?

It’s time to find out the answer to a common question we get asked on the forums: When to spay or neuter a cat?

The answer may surprise you.

One of the most important things we do for our cats is getting them fixed. That means spaying females and neutering males. There are a multitude of benefits to spaying and neutering pets and it is clearly the best decision for you, your cat and for cats as a species. If you’re not sure why spaying and neutering are so important read this –
Why You Should Spay And Neuter Your Cats

The question remains: When to spay or neuter a cat?

First, let us say that there is no difference between spaying females and neutering males when it comes to the question of age. In cats, the same guidelines apply to both sexes.

Simply put, the right age is the one where we can make sure the cats never reach sexual maturity. There are three good reasons for that –

1. Preventing cats from reproducing and adding to the huge problem of cat overpopulation.

2. Preventing cats from adopting unwanted behaviors that their sex hormones could trigger, such as roaming, spraying urine or becoming more aggressive.

3. Decreasing the risk for certain types of cancer. Mammary cancers are common in cats (like breast cancer is in women) and the risk can be dramatically decreased in cats that are spayed before their first heat cycle.

Most cats reach sexual maturity at around the age of six months. Some do so earlier though, even as young as five months old. Taking into account the waiting time for the procedure and possible delays, most veterinarians recommend spaying and neutering pet cats at the age of 4-5 months and indeed, according to SpayUSA.com, the average age at which pets are neutered or spayed is 4 months.

But is that early enough?

For most kittens it is. Responsible owners who are aware of the implications of a delay can make sure the kitten gets fixed by the age of four months.

Sometimes, it’s better to neuter and spay kittens when they are younger. Many shelters and rescue organizations are committed to rehoming kittens only after they have been spayed or neutered. They do that to make 100% sure that these cats will not end up having kittens. This practice is known as “early age spay/neuter” and it involves carrying out the procedure on kittens as young as 6-14 weeks old.

Is early spay/neuter safe for kittens?

In a word, yes.

Several studies have been carried out and the results are promising. According to the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP), spaying and neutering kittens this young is safe, as long as they weigh at least one kilogram (roughly two pounds). It may even have several potential benefits. These were detailed in the 2010, official position paper on early age spay & neuter, according to which these procedures, when performed at a younger age, are associated with –

1. Shorter operative times and rapid recovery.

2. Decreased risk of asthma, gingivitis and hyperactivity.

3. A decreased likelihood for behavioral problems such as roaming, urine marking, fighting, inappropriate urination, unique behaviors of estrus (the feline heat cycle) and aggression.

Studies did however show that shyness increased among these kittens, especially male ones.

The experts concluded that considering the huge problem of cat overpopulation, early age spay/neuter is a recommended practice. They went on to mention a list of other organizations who support it as well –

Early neutering is endorsed by the AVMA, American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), American Humane Association (AHA), The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), Association of Shelter Veterinarians, Society for Theriogenology, American College of Theriogenologists, and The Cat Fanciers’ Association/ Winn Feline Foundation, among others.

 So, when to spay or neuter your cat?

As always, the answer is something you need to discuss with your veterinarian. Your cat’s overall health as well as your lifestyle and preferences should be taken into account.

Generally speaking, a healthy pet cat should be spayed/neutered when no older than five months of age.

The procedure can be just as safe earlier. Just make sure that your veterinarian is experienced with early age spaying and neutering and the relevant anesthesia protocols.

14 comments on “When To Spay Or Neuter A Cat?

Furballsmom September 29, 2019
kitty416 said:
Tiger is my 10 month old male kitten(?) cat (?). He is being aggressive to one of my older female cats, Kona(5 years old), by chasing her away when she approaches me for attention. He began this behavior around 3 months ago. Kona has become increasingly intimidated by him and is hesitant to let me pet or brush her lately. I have dealt this behavior by placing Tiger in a huge cat (sanctuary) cage while I give Kona personal attention while I am downstairs. I want to add that the cage I place Tiger in was his home when he came to live with us at 5 weeks, until he was old enough to remain outside the cage as he grew up. It is multi-leveled and accommodates all his needs, bedding, food and litter box. I feel he doesn't view it as punishment to be placed in it. He seems accepting and usually naps for his short stay. All three of my cats have free reign of my townhouse. Kona prefers downstairs and Sophie prefers upstairs and Tiger stays close by me when I'm home and everywhere else when I'm not. Tiger has not been neutered. Would having him fixed possibly curtail his aggression towards Kona or is it just a matter of Tiger maturing? Both girls have been spayed. He is only aggressive with Sophie sometimes, but she is closer to his age (3 years old) and they have played/wrestled since he was around 3 months. They seem to be pals, but when he is aggressive Sophie can hold her own, being a sturdy American Bobtail. Thanks for any advice anyone can give. Oh, and it is only me and the three cats in the home.
Hello @kitty416! As is usually noted at the end of articles, it is best to post questions in forums rather than in the comments section of articles. For example, this question should be posted in the forum Cat Behavior that is where members will see your post and will offer advice and support. If you aren't familiar with how to post a new thread this may help; How To Create A New Thread
kitty416 September 16, 2019
Tiger is my 10 month old male kitten(?) cat (?). He is being aggressive to one of my older female cats, Kona(5 years old), by chasing her away when she approaches me for attention. He began this behavior around 3 months ago. Kona has become increasingly intimidated by him and is hesitant to let me pet or brush her lately. I have dealt this behavior by placing Tiger in a huge cat (sanctuary) cage while I give Kona personal attention while I am downstairs. I want to add that the cage I place Tiger in was his home when he came to live with us at 5 weeks, until he was old enough to remain outside the cage as he grew up. It is multi-leveled and accommodates all his needs, bedding, food and litter box. I feel he doesn't view it as punishment to be placed in it. He seems accepting and usually naps for his short stay. All three of my cats have free reign of my townhouse. Kona prefers downstairs and Sophie prefers upstairs and Tiger stays close by me when I'm home and everywhere else when I'm not. Tiger has not been neutered. Would having him fixed possibly curtail his aggression towards Kona or is it just a matter of Tiger maturing? Both girls have been spayed. He is only aggressive with Sophie sometimes, but she is closer to his age (3 years old) and they have played/wrestled since he was around 3 months. They seem to be pals, but when he is aggressive Sophie can hold her own, being a sturdy American Bobtail. Thanks for any advice anyone can give. Oh, and it is only me and the three cats in the home.
kevintsh August 1, 2019
kevintsh said:
Can I still spay my cat when she's about 18 months old?
Noted.
mani August 1, 2019
kevintsh said:
Can I still spay my cat when she's about 18 months old?
It's best to ask these questions out on the forums @kevintsh :)
kevintsh July 31, 2019
Can I still spay my cat when she's about 18 months old?
therese July 17, 2019
Rich K said:
I wish more emphasis would be put on spaying as a cancer preventative. I lost my best buddy to mammary cancer at age 10 in spite of surgery and chemotherapy. As a single indoor cat there was no chance of unwanted kittens so I thought why risk the operation. Dumbest mistake I ever made. I just wish the vet had stressed the cancer issue instead of just the unwanted kitten issue.
You know, I had the spay when my Lola ( see photo ) was very young, and she STILL got cancer, granted, she was 15 but she still got mammary cancer....
Rich K July 9, 2019
I wish more emphasis would be put on spaying as a cancer preventative. I lost my best buddy to mammary cancer at age 10 in spite of surgery and chemotherapy. As a single indoor cat there was no chance of unwanted kittens so I thought why risk the operation. Dumbest mistake I ever made. I just wish the vet had stressed the cancer issue instead of just the unwanted kitten issue.
andybones October 16, 2018
new to this site. registered in the hopes of finding out if it is possible for a neutered cat to still have raging hormones and if so how do you find out. can't figure out how to navigate site :(
Zoemercedes July 24, 2018
Can someone please tell me if this kitten is a girl or boy the picture is not very clear sorry
Peacefulpearl June 18, 2018
My vet didnt agree on neutering my male kitten before reaching 6 months of age, im worried he'd develope pee marking by that time:paranoid:
mingsmongols July 8, 2016
There's not a vet in my town that will spay/neuter before 4 months.. it's actually kind of fustrating.
lykakitty July 5, 2016
All of my cats I have now were fixed by 5 months, and one as young as 2 months. The recovery time for all of them was amazingly quick, at least compared to my childhood cat, who was spayed at almost 2 after having a litter. She retained a few behavior problems, too, and none of my cats who have been fixed as kittens have had any sort of related behavior problems. Big fan of early age spay and neuter, seems to be best for everyone
Anne July 4, 2016
Maybe you should print out the AAFP's position paper and show her or him? Honestly, I would consider switching vets if they still wouldn't neuter at 4-5 months of age after reading that. 
jellycatfish July 4, 2016
My vet doesn't want to neuter my kitten before 6 months old...

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