Kittens are sweet, rambunctious little furballs that have boundless energy to play and scamper around the house. Unfortunately, when they hit puberty, at around 6 months of age, this energy can be channeled into destructive and aggressive behaviors. Early spaying or neutering ensures your little one stays mellow and playful.
Kittens mature quickly, reaching sexual maturity between 6 and 9 months of age, according to the Somerset Animal Hospital. Once they reach this stage, they will have the desire to mate and the hormones in their body will propel them to seek out potential partners, usually outdoors. If you have more than one kitten of the opposite sex in your home, they may even seek to mate with each other or get into aggressive fights. Although still considered kittens until they reach 1 year old, your little one is capable of becoming pregnant and giving birth to a litter of kittens herself.
Sexually mature kittens tend to develop behavioral problems in the home. A female in heat will yowl and howl at all hours of the day and night to alert potential mates of her presence. Males will spray urine in your home to mark their territory and advertise the availability to females. They also become more aggressive towards other cats, getting into serious fights with rivals for the affections of females. Male kittens may also become aggressive and aloof toward humans. Both males and females will become more active and run for any open doors in your home to escape outside. Kittens who wish to mate like to roam the neighborhood to make themselves available to a wide variety of potential suitors. These Casanova kitties don't have the desire to sit around with you as happy house cats.
When to Fix
Kittens as young as 8 weeks old can be spayed or neutered, although some veterinarians recommend the procedure be performed between 4 and 6 months of age, according to the Cat Care Clinic. To avoid behavioral changes or issues from developing, it's best to get your kitty fixed prior to puberty. For girl kittens, this prevents your little one from having to go through heat at all. Early surgery also prevents unwanted behaviors, like urine marking, from becoming a bad habit for your kitten that is harder for him to break post-surgery. While neutering or spaying a cat is typically safe at 8 weeks old, the Mar Vista Animal Medical Center recommends waiting until your kitten weighs at least 3 pounds before surgery.
Spay or Neuter
A spay or neuter procedure involves the surgical removal of your kitten's reproductive organs. Males have their testicles removed and females have their fallopian tubes, ovaries and uterus removed, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Not only does this eliminate the possibility of your kitten reproducing, but it also removes the source of the sexual hormones in his or her body. Without estrogen in females and testosterone in males prompting the kitty to want to mate, your little one should return to their mellow, pre-puberty stage of wanting to play, eat and nap. Males typically won't mark territory with urine or roam the neighborhood and will be as friendly and playful as ever.
A Mellow Kitten
In general, spayed or neutered kittens may become slightly less active and mellower than they were prior to the procedure. To prevent weight gain, decreasing your kitty's diet by about 25 percent to account for a reduction in energy needs is recommended, according to the Texas A&M; University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences. Provide lots of fun toys for your little one to play with and cat condos to climb, encouraging an active, healthy lifestyle indoors.
Kittens are rambunctious and tend to get into mischief. While spaying or neutering your little one will prevent unpleasant mating behaviors, it won't exactly turn him into a couch potato. He'll still have most of the energy he did before, just not the desire to mate, fight and escape from your home. In addition to surgery, if you want to mellow out your kitty, play with him during the day using interactive toys for 15 minutes; not only does this keep him exercised, but it will also tucker him out. A tired kitten is more likely to want to snuggle with you and to sleep through the night. Toys or even another fixed kitten can also engage your kitty's attention throughout the day, leading to a calmer cat overall.
- The Cat Care Clinic: Frequently Asked Questions on Cat Health
- Somerset Animal Hospital: Frequently Asked Questions
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: Spay-Neuter
- Hurricane Pets Rescue Inc: Reasons to Spay and Neuter your Pets
- WebMD: Seven Reasons to Spay or Neuter Your Pet
- Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences: Frequently Asked Questions
- Mar Vista Animal Medical Center: Neutering the Male Cat
- kitten image by Radoslav Lazarov from Fotolia.com