How Old Should a Kitten be Before Spaying?

How old was your cat when she was spayed? Increasingly, I’ve been seeing people adopting kittens at 7 or 8 weeks who have already been spayed!  the advice of my vets, I’d never spayed a cat before she was several months old but admittedly my lady cat is 21 years old so it got me wondering what is the best age to spay a kitten changed?

What is the ideal age to spay a cat?

If you have a new kitten or are planning to get a kitten, it can be confusing to know when is the right time to get your kitten spayed. Previously, the general approach from vets was to wait until kittens are 6 months old in order to spay them, but that guidance has changed. It is believed that the ideal age for kittens to be spayed is before they are 5 months old.

“Recent research tells us that such timing decreases the incidence of cancer, behavioral issues, infectious diseases and unwanted reproduction,” says Dr. Alex Robb, DVM, MBA, CCRT at Goodheart Animal Health Center.

According to Teresa Keiger of The Cat Fanciers Association, it’s not just rescues and shelters that are spaying earlier; many pedigree cat breeders are also choosing to now have kittens spayed before placed into their forever families. She feels that because spaying can reduce the likelihood of challenging behavioral issues such as inappropriate urination or vocalizations, early spaying can support cat owners to more closely bond with their kittens right away.

How old should a kitten be before spaying

How old was your cat when she was spayed? Photo: Wildroze/Getty Images

What are the long term impacts of early spaying?

For most kittens, spaying at a very young age is perfectly safe. Dr. Robb notes that something to be aware of around early spaying is that cats spayed at a very young age may “experience reduced metabolic demands a bit sooner than cats that are altered later in life.” Dr. Robb advises that in those situations your cat’s vet might recommend changing to an adult diet from kitten food sooner. “Maintaining a healthy body condition is essential to a cat’s long-term health and can reduce the risk for arthritis, diabetes and liver disease,” encourages Dr. Robb which is going to be true regardless of what age your cat is spayed.

Why cats should be spayed

Early spaying became popular with shelters and rescue groups as a means to ensure that kittens they were adopting were altered before going home to their forever families. The primary purpose of early spaying is to ensure that kittens can’t have accidental litters of kittens. Many people are surprised to learn that cats who aren’t spayed can become pregnant as young as 4 months, and so as part of population control and reducing unwanted litters early spaying makes a lot of sense.

In addition to the risk of an accidental litter and concerns about overpopulations of cats, there are also health reasons concerns associated with unspayed female cats that make it desirable to ensure that your kitten is spayed. “The main concern for female cats is the risk for mammary cancer, which increases with each heat cycle. Roughly 90% of mammary masses in cats will be malignant and can require both radical surgery and chemotherapy to address. Fortunately, spaying a female cat before her first heat cycle will essentially eliminate the potential for mammary cancer in the future” explains Dr. Robb.

Featured Photo: RalchevDesign/Getty Images

Read Next:How to Prepare Your Kitten for the Vet

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