Newborn kittens are tiny and cute, but they grow up startlingly quickly. Many female kittens actually will have their first heats as young as 4 months. To spare your sweet little furball any possibility of pregnancy so young, you can consider spaying as early as 8 weeks old.
You may cringe at the idea of spaying your very young kitten, but early spaying can be a helpful preventive measure, keeping female cats healthy and totally avoiding the potential physical toll of a very young pregnancy. The ASPCA says spaying in general is also beneficial for preventing serious ailments -- think breast cancer and various uterine disorders.
Early spaying will not alter the kitten's appearance as an adult. The ovary-removal operation just keeps her from going into heat. It spares you and Kitty the behaviors of a female cat in season, including excessive vocalization, urine spraying and restlessness. Most importantly, it prevents pregnancy. The spay surgery is easy and safe for kittens and adult cats of all ages, although the ASPCA recommends getting it done early -- from 8 weeks on -- to prevent the heat cycle from ever occurring.
Ask your veterinarian about the safety of anesthesia for wee kitties. In most cases, the little ones recover a lot faster than adults.
The ASPCA says the spay surgery is no more painful or dangerous for kittens than adult cats. If a cat is elderly, veterinarian consultations beforehand are recommended for safety purposes. If your cute kitty is on the older side -- say more than 5 years -- check with your vet before scheduling anything.
Immediately After Surgery
Spaying your kitty is a surgical procedure. Your kitten will require some recovery time, usually one to two days. She will naturally feel a bit uncomfortable and sore after the procedure, so your veterinarian may prescribe a safe pain medication. In some cases, the clinic or hospital will keep your kitty overnight to watch for unexpected bleeding or other problems. In other cases, Kitty may be home within hours. Kittens may feel a little groggy and disoriented after spaying, but they usually shake off anesthesia faster than adult cats -- sometimes within an hour. If your kitten is newly spayed, give her a relaxing, calm and quiet sanctuary where she can recuperate in peace. Keep any other household pets far away while she recovers.
Try to prevent your newly spayed kitten from exerting herself much in the immediate days after the surgery. No exertion means no jumping or chasing, or anything in between. Your kitty must have time to heal, and sutures must not be disturbed.
Unless the clinic keeps your little furball overnight for monitoring, she may resume eating the same day as the surgery unless your vet says otherwise. If your little buddy doesn't resume eating within two days after the procedure, consult your veterinarian.
Unless the veterinarian gives you some specific instructions, you don't have to do anything about your kitten's post-surgery sutures. Just check on them daily to ensure they look clean. If you notice anything that looks abnormal, such as swelling or inflammation around the sutures, speak with your vet immediately. Also pay attention to symptoms you think might indicate an infection, such as discharge.
It is important that your kitty not lick the incision area. If she isn't ignoring the area, request an E collar (Elizabethan collar) from your veterinarian. This collar helps prevent infection and other issues by preventing your kitty from reaching her sutures.
In general, the incision will take up to two weeks to heal. After that, Kitty should be as good as new, and you both can forget the whole thing ever happened.