Are There Any Health Benefits To Letting Your Cat Go Into Heat Once?

SeanS

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From what my vet has told me, letting your cat go into heat, even once, greatly increases the chance of the cat having breast cancer.

But I've also heard people say they let their cat go into heat once since it increases that cat's bone growth and bodily maturity?

What do people think of this? Are there any studies out there that support either of these two theories?
 

amethyst

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Letting your cat reach near full size, at 6 months, has some arguments for bone growth and stuff, my vet wont do earlier spays. However most of the research that I have seen on delaying the spay/neuter is based on dogs. There is some proof that waiting with large breed dogs can reduce the chances of certain bone cancers in dogs, and people seem to have taken that to mean cats should not be spayed or neutered early either. Cats are much more likely to get issues like breast cancer and infection of the uterus the more often they go into heat without breeding, so just one heat might not hurt but it doesn't do any good either. Spaying/neutering early can actually increase the bone growth (likely why it can cause bone cancer in large dogs that grow for a couple years) since hormones also help control when to bones are suppose to stop growing, without the hormones they can end up growing a bit bigger then if they hadn't been fixed. Even large breed cats, as far as I can tell, do not have an increased risk of bone cancer if they are spayed/neutered early. Here is an article by the CFA on studies done Early Spay Neuter – The Cat Fanciers' Association, Inc
 

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I have to agree with amethyst amethyst . Friends of mine who have labs and larger breed male dogs are very careful not to neuter them before 2 years at least. In the dog world, this theory seems to have credence. Myself, personally, I spay or neuter absolutely any animal I own early on. My cat vet will not do a spay or neuter before 4 months, which I consider completely reasonable, but at that point them are fixed.

Anecdotally, my GSDs were all rescued and all neutered very early. Current boy is 15 years old and was neutered at 8 weeks in a high kill shelter in MO. It certainly did not affect his bones.

No studies on this one, but I have rescued cats in heat....not a lot of fun.
 
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SeanS

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Letting your cat reach near full size, at 6 months, has some arguments for bone growth and stuff, my vet wont do earlier spays. However most of the research that I have seen on delaying the spay/neuter is based on dogs. There is some proof that waiting with large breed dogs can reduce the chances of certain bone cancers in dogs, and people seem to have taken that to mean cats should not be spayed or neutered early either. Cats are much more likely to get issues like breast cancer and infection of the uterus the more often they go into heat without breeding, so just one heat might not hurt but it doesn't do any good either. Spaying/neutering early can actually increase the bone growth (likely why it can cause bone cancer in large dogs that grow for a couple years) since hormones also help control when to bones are suppose to stop growing, without the hormones they can end up growing a bit bigger then if they hadn't been fixed. Even large breed cats, as far as I can tell, do not have an increased risk of bone cancer if they are spayed/neutered early. Here is an article by the CFA on studies done Early Spay Neuter – The Cat Fanciers' Association, Inc
Thank you for sharing this information!
 
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SeanS

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Letting your cat reach near full size, at 6 months, has some arguments for bone growth and stuff, my vet wont do earlier spays. However most of the research that I have seen on delaying the spay/neuter is based on dogs. There is some proof that waiting with large breed dogs can reduce the chances of certain bone cancers in dogs, and people seem to have taken that to mean cats should not be spayed or neutered early either. Cats are much more likely to get issues like breast cancer and infection of the uterus the more often they go into heat without breeding, so just one heat might not hurt but it doesn't do any good either. Spaying/neutering early can actually increase the bone growth (likely why it can cause bone cancer in large dogs that grow for a couple years) since hormones also help control when to bones are suppose to stop growing, without the hormones they can end up growing a bit bigger then if they hadn't been fixed. Even large breed cats, as far as I can tell, do not have an increased risk of bone cancer if they are spayed/neutered early. Here is an article by the CFA on studies done Early Spay Neuter – The Cat Fanciers' Association, Inc
So one argument I've heard against spaying/neutering, and it should be more choice based, is that the spay/neuter can cause problems with " osteosarcoma, prostate and bladder cancer, and more." Is there any studies that can back this up?
 

neely

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TCS has an Article that discusses why you should spay and neuter your cat - hopefully it will answer some of your questions:
Why You Should Spay And Neuter Your Cats – TheCatSite Articles

Speaking from my own personal experience and we've had many, many cats, none of them whether male or female have ever been diagnosed with osteosarcoma, prostate/bladder cancer or any other illness due to spay or neuter. I'm sure other members can weigh in with their thoughts too.
 
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SeanS

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TCS has an Article that discusses why you should spay and neuter your cat - hopefully it will answer some of your questions:
Why You Should Spay And Neuter Your Cats – TheCatSite Articles

Speaking from my own personal experience and we've had many, many cats, none of them whether male or female have ever been diagnosed with osteosarcoma, prostate/bladder cancer or any other illness due to spay or neuter. I'm sure other members can weigh in with their thoughts too.
Thanks for sharing. I'm just curious, since the studies on all of this is severely lacking. I spayed my cat shortly after I got her. But I see people asking this question and then demanding proof all the time.
 

amethyst

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So one argument I've heard against spaying/neutering, and it should be more choice based, is that the spay/neuter can cause problems with " osteosarcoma, prostate and bladder cancer, and more." Is there any studies that can back this up?
I don't know of any studies to back up those claims in cats, and I have not heard of those things even being an issue caused by spay/neutering for cats. Again though I have read that spaying/neutering dogs, especially large breed dogs, too early can cause those kinds of issues, mostly do to the hormones being taken away before the dog has fully developed. So it comes down to timing, not down to not doing it at all, for large breed dogs. Even though that does mean the dog will go into heat at least once going into heat still has nothing to do with it though, that in itself still has no health benefit, and is actually risky since every time a female animal goes into heat the body is flooded with hormones, that and cause hormone fed tumors to form in the breast and reproductive tract. The hormones in the ovaries and testicles do also play an important part in growth and development though, so that is why some vets still say wait until they are near full grown (6 months for cats), which does mean risking the cat possibly going through a heat cycle (not all cats go into heat before 6 months). Again in dogs there are other options being looked into like rather then a full spay doing a hysterectomy or rather then a full neuter doing a vasectomy, that way the dog still has the hormones but can't reproduce. I have not seen any studies yet on that being beneficial for cats though.
 

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There’s no solid evidence for ESN having any negative effects on cats as young as 8 weeks, neither developmentally, nor socially. Cats aren’t small dogs, so any research done in them is irrelevant. In fact, some modern research has indicated that neutering cats before 6 months may reduce the risk of degenerative joint disease SAGE Journals: Your gateway to world-class research journals Neutering before first heat for female cats lowers the risk of mammary tumours, and lowers the risk of developing undesirable behaviors like spraying or aggression in both sexes. Neutering doesn’t always remove the behaviors if they become habit.

Imo, neutering should be done 5 months or younger, as 6 months runs the risk of them reaching sexual maturity. Kittens can be safely neutered once they reach 1kg if the vet is competent with animals of such size. Makes healing a lot easier, especially for female cats.
 
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SeanS

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There’s no solid evidence for ESN having any negative effects on cats as young as 8 weeks, neither developmentally, nor socially. Cats aren’t small dogs, so any research done in them is irrelevant. In fact, some modern research has indicated that neutering cats before 6 months may reduce the risk of degenerative joint disease SAGE Journals: Your gateway to world-class research journals Neutering before first heat for female cats lowers the risk of mammary tumours, and lowers the risk of developing undesirable behaviors like spraying or aggression in both sexes. Neutering doesn’t always remove the behaviors if they become habit.

Imo, neutering should be done 5 months or younger, as 6 months runs the risk of them reaching sexual maturity. Kittens can be safely neutered once they reach 1kg if the vet is competent with animals of such size. Makes healing a lot easier, especially for female cats.
Okay thank you again. Just want to be clear, I spayed my cat as soon as I got her. But I have just heard so many people argue against it, whether regular people, or even vets, arguing that you should let your cat have one heat cycle, reach adult hood. And them arguing the cons and worries of cancer is only a few percent?

I also recall this one guy, arguing that the reason these problems are happening, cancer risks, are because we're not allowing the cats to breed and mate? Is there any truth to that. He ignored the obvious problem of cat overpopulation, but is there any truth that these cats wouldn't have these problems if they were allowed to mate?

Just asking for curiosity sake, and because I so rarely see actual reports and studies on this.
 

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There is evidence that spaying cats before the first heat cycle (which may occur as early as 4 months of age) will substantially reduce the risk of mammary cancer. This is important because most cat mammary tumors are aggressive malignant cancers, and surgery (even a radical mastectomy) rarely results in a cure. Also, studies have shown that there do not seem to be any adverse health consequences to sterilizing cats as early as 6-14 weeks of age. The neutering of male cats is commonly used to modify behavior and make them better pets; testicular tumors are benign, and they are not common.
Source: Reducing the Risk of Cancer - Special Pet Topics - Merck Veterinary Manual

That source goes on to explain that the situation for dogs is not exactly the same. I think some people hear the info about dog spay/neuter timing (such as waiting for bone to fully develop, etc.) and think that it applies to cats too which is not true.

Several health benefits are associated with spaying your cat. First, spaying eliminates the risk of ovarian and uterine cancers. Second, breast cancer is the number one type of cancer diagnosed in intact (unspayed) female cats. If your cat is spayed before her first heat cycle, there is less than ½ of 1% (0.5%) chance of developing breast cancer. With every subsequent heat cycle, the risk of developing breast cancer increases. After about 2½ years of age, ovariohysterectomy offers no protective benefit against developing breast cancer.

Unspayed female cats also carry the risk of developing pyometra – a fatal condition of the uterus that requires surgery to treat.

Finally, cats with diabetes or epilepsy should be spayed to prevent hormonal changes that may interfere with medications.
Source: Spaying in Cats

Also from that source: "There are many myths and beliefs about spaying that are not supported by facts or research."

Keep that in mind. The internet has made it even easier for misinformation to spread. Trust the medical professionals, not random people who don't have any knowledge of animal anatomy and health.
 
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