Your little female kitten is just a lovable bundle of fluff. Sure, you intend to spay, but should you wait until she's grown? Not necessarily. The American Veterinary Association endorses early spaying and neutering for unwanted litter prevention. Speak to your vet about early spaying for your little girl.
Kittens may be spayed as early as 8 weeks of age, up to 16 weeks. After that, the kitten is pretty much an adolescent cat. Spaying formerly was recommended after the age of 6 months, when the female cat reached sexual and reproductive maturity. Cat overpopulation is a serious issue, and feline euthanasia rates are high at many animal shelters. Thus many shelters now require spay/neutering of kittens before adoption.
In preparing older animals for surgery, food and water is generally withheld after midnight on the day of the procedure. Because kittens grow rapidly and need nutrition, your vet or the spay/neuter facility may not require you to withhold food the night before. Find out the vet's or facility's policy when making the spay appointment.
Yes, you could wait until she's older. But you may not be absolutely sure she will never get out of the house and mate. And you can avert the yowling, writhing and general obnoxiousness behavior that accompanies a cat's first heat. Studies show that early spaying does not increase the risk of behavioral or physical compared to cats undergoing surgery later, according to the University of California School of Veterinary Medicine. It adds that early-age spaying may actually prevent behavior problems from occurring.
Kittens generally recover well from spay surgery. Keep her quiet for a few days -- not easy with an energetic kitten -- and check on the incision to make sure it's healing well, with no blood or discharge. If the incision appears problematic, contact your vet immediately. Don't let kitty lick the incision. If she insists, you may need to put an Elizabethan collar on her, available from your vet or a pet store. Of course, she will not like this one bit, but it's for her own good. If she experiences diarrhea or vomiting, contact your vet. While there's always the exception, most young kittens don't act like they've had major abdominal surgery but behave like the youngsters they are.
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.