When little kitties reach puberty -- as early as 4 to 6 months of age -- they'll be able to reproduce, and they'll possibly begin some unpleasant behaviors, too. To avoid either issue, you can have your little one neutered or spayed as early as 6 to 8 weeks old.
Once a kitten reaches sexual maturity, usually between 4 and 6 months of age, he is able to produce offspring. This means that your little girl kitten could be giving birth to little kittens well before she's 1 year old. Your kitten's behavior will also change once he or she hits puberty: Male kitties begin to spray smelly urine to mark their territory, and females yowl when in heat. Both males and females have a strong desire to mate and will try any method of escape they can to get outside and find a prospective partner. While it's never too late to fix a cat, you'll circumvent mating behaviors by having your little guy surgically altered before he reaches 6 months old. Same goes if your little guy's a girl.
Early Spay or Neuter
While you can have a kitten fixed as young as 6 weeks old, the procedure is usually performed when your little one reaches 8 to 12 weeks of age. Kittens need to weigh at least 2 pounds before surgery, according to Web MD. Fixing a kitten at a younger age is "pediatric neutering," Among the many veterinarians and organizations that endorse it is the American Veterinary Medical Association. Younger kittens may heal and bounce back more quickly than their older counterparts, and no long-term side effects have been noted in cats fixed at a young age. Speak to your vet to determine if an early spay or neuter is right for your kitty.
The procedure to fix a kitty involves the surgical removal of the animal's reproductive organs, under anesthesia, by a qualified veterinarian. For spaying, a female kitty's ovaries, uterus and fallopian tubes are removed, For neutering, a male's testicles are removed. After surgery, your little one will probably be ready to come home later that day. Many vets keep female kitties overnight because their surgery is a bit more involved and they have an incision that needs to heal. Because your little one will be around other animals at the hospital, many experts suggest you schedule the surgery for after he has finished his series of vaccinations. This is usually about 4 months old, when the rabies vaccine is administered.
Some veterinarians will fix your little guy only when he reaches 4 to 6 months of age, the traditionally accepted age for the procedure. If you adopted your kitty from a shelter, he may already be altered: Most shelters require neutering prior to allowing an adoption to prevent pet overpopulation. In some areas, laws require that kittens of a certain age must be spayed or neutered. Ask your vet if any such laws exist in your city.
Once a female has started her first heat, she'll need to get through it before spaying to avoid complications during surgery.
Spaying and neutering your little one has some health benefits -- it helps to prevent ovarian cancer in females and testicular cancer in males.
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: Spay-Neuter
- Web MD: Spaying or Neutering Your Cat FAQ
- UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine: Spaying or Neutering Your Cat
- American Veterinary Medical Association: Mandatory Spay/Neuter Laws
- American Veterinary Medical Association: Feline Practitioners Support Early Spay/Neuter and Hospice Care
- Catster: When Should I Spay or Neuter My Cat?
- Cat Channel: Early-Age Spay/Neuter for Kittens
- Best Friends Animal Society: Pediatric Spay/Neuter
- Whitney Veterinary Hospital: Why Should I Vaccinate?
- kitten image by AGphotographer from Fotolia.com