Early-Age Neuter and Spay

Altering an animal before it reaches puberty is one of the best ways to avoid unwanted litters.

Posted: Wed Dec 18 00:00:00 PST 2002

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young kittenWaiting for a cat to grow up before it is spayed or neutered often results in "oops litters," says W. Marvin Mackie, DVM, who heads four Animal Birth Control clinics in Southern California. "In view of the massive numbers of pets destroyed each year, I consider all of us in the veterinary profession to be part of a great failure to relieve pain and suffering by not advocating spaying before the female's first heat."

Altering healthy kittens as young as 6 weeks old can be performed faster than traditional surgeries on older animals, but is the procedure safe?

"The skill required to perform the surgery is not extraordinary," Mackie says. "The recovery of the youthful patient is extraordinarily quick, however, leaving it unaffected by this important event in its early life. To date, no significant negative concerns have been found in what is now becoming a well-documented subject." 

Early spay and neuter is a growing trend endorsed by major humane organizations like the American Humane Association, the Humane Society of the United States, the American Veterinary Medical Association and the Cat Fanciers' Association.

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Reader Comments

Vicki    Murphy, NC

10/7/2008 9:11:41 AM

I adopted a precious bi-color tortie from my local shelter (6 weeks old, fit in the palm of my hand) and it was do distressing to see her small belly stitched up from an early spay; however, I was open-minded about it at the time... not anymore. "Strudel" developed behavioral problems later in her life and vomited constantly. Numerous trips to the vet, many medications, even a trip to a teaching hospital could not diagnose what the problem was. Finally, when she passed away at the young age of 8 years old, it was discovered that she had intestinal cancer. There is new research that indicates that female dogs who are spayed too early have urinary problems more often than in dogs who are spayed later. I don't know definitively that "Strudel's" problems were the result of the early spay, but I will NEVER spay a female cat before the age of 5 months. Be responsible and have your cat spayed, yes; but not before 5 months.

Nancy Brantley    Monroe, NC

8/12/2008 6:36:20 PM

How young can a cat get pregnant?

Mary    Rockford, IL

8/5/2007 6:54:06 AM

I like getting it over with.

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