While you can have your kitty spayed at any age, the best time to do so is before she goes into heat for the first time. This will prevent not only any unwanted litters but also some possible health issues for your little girl later in life.
Typically, your furry companion will become mature when she reaches 5 to 8 months old, according to the Feline Advisory Bureau. At this point, your kitten can have kittens of her own, leading to a number of unwanted little babies for you to deal with. Once she goes into her first estrus or heat cycle, she'll remain in heat for 21 to 30 days, according to the University of California Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. During this time, she won't be able to have a spay surgery because of the medical risks involved, and you'll have to wait until she's out of estrus.
When to Spay
To prevent your little one from going into heat, ideally she should be spayed prior to or right around 5 months of age. The youngest a kitty should be before she's spayed is 8 weeks old. Little ones this young need to be at least 2.2 pounds before surgery, recommends the Ohio Alleycat Resource. Young kittens tend to bounce back after surgery pretty quickly. Of course, your feline friend needs to be in good health to go through surgery; if she isn't, your vet will tell you when she is ready to be spayed.
What is Spaying?
The spay procedure is a routine surgery in which your vet will remove the reproductive organs of your kitty. These organs include the ovaries, uterus and fallopian tubes, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Your vet makes a small incision in your little one's abdomen to do this, after which he'll close the area with surgical sutures. In seven to 10 days, he'll remove these sutures or they will dissolve on their own. During her recovery, your furry friend may have to wear a special collar, known as an e-collar, to prevent her from licking or chewing at her sutures and causing an infection.
While spaying is traditionally recommended for kitties between 4 and 6 months of age, spaying as young as 8 weeks old is considered safe, according to Cat Channel. Many animal shelters actually spay kitties prior to adopting them out at this age. Each kitty is unique, though, and your vet may have recommendations of his own for your little one, to determine the best age to spay her. In addition, certain local laws may dictate when you spay your little one. Some municipalities specify that kitties must be spayed by 4 months of age, while others require it by 6 months of age, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association.
Spaying your kitty prior to her first heat means you won't have to deal with any of the unpleasant behaviors associated with estrus. These include loud yowling, a constant desire to go outside and urine marking. Her number one desire during this time is to find a male kitty to mate with, which is why she wants to escape outdoors. Spaying her between 2 and 5 months old means you won't have to deal with any of this. Plus, her chances of developing breast and ovarian cancers is reduced, as are her chances of developing pyometra, a potentially deadly infection of the uterus, according to the Kokomo Humane Society. Note that it's never too late to spay a kitty, so if you adopt an unspayed older feline furbaby, have her spayed right away, as long as she's not in heat.
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: Spay-Neuter
- Best Friends Animal Society: Pediatric Spay/Neuter
- Mar Vista Animal Medical Center: The Feline Spay
- Cat Channel: Early-Age Spay/Neuter for Kittens
- Ohio Alleycat Resource: OAR Spay/Neuter Clinic for Cats
- VetInfo: At What Age Should You Neuter a Cat?
- UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine: Spaying Your Cat or Dog
- Feline Advisory Bureau: Neutering Your Cat
- Kokomo Humane Society: Spaying and Neutering Fact vs. Fiction
- American Veterinary Medical Association: Mandatory Spay/Neuter Laws
- Thinkstock/Comstock/Getty Images
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