Should You Desex Your Cat Before Puberty?

There is an ongoing debate about when you should desex your cat. Some advocates at the University of Sydney in Australia believe that it’s best to do so before puberty hits. This means moving the recommended time for the surgery up by two months. The previous recommendation was for desexing at six months. Now they’re suggesting that four months would be more beneficial.

Research on the benefits of desexing cats early reveals that the overwhelming number of unwanted kittens is driving the recommendation to move up the age of desexing cat. It’s a practice that is observed in animal shelters in Australia already, but studies show that there is an increase in vets recommending early age desexing, and more citizens are complying with the recommendation. It’s becoming more common in Australia.

In addition to preventing accidental pregnancy and unwanted kittens, making a routine desexing of cats at an early age can bring about additional benefits. It cuts down on the stress that shelters experience by reducing the population of stray cats and taking the stress off of pets and pet owners by decreasing the number of unwanted pregnancies in cats. There are also health benefits for the cats that are desexed. It can help to protect cats against some cancers and other diseases by discouraging risky behavior that exposes them to the types of illnesses carried by stray or feral cats. Because of the health and welfare benefits for cats, their owners, and shelters, vets now stand by their recommendation to desex cats at 4 months of age. The movement in Australia is one that could easily be replicated in other countries of the world where the overpopulation of unwanted kittens is a problem.

The process for desexing a cat

According to Vet Babble, desexing a male cat involves a veterinary surgeon making two small incisions in the scrotum, and removing the testicles through them. The cuts are so small that they don’t even require sutures. The process is a little more involved for female cats. A small incision is made on the flank or the abdomen and the ovaries and uterus are removed. The process in the United States is referred to as spay for the females or neuter in the males.

Differences in the United States

While Australia is moving towards early life desexing of cats, the United States still recommends that the procedure should be done at the age of about six months. Vet babble adds a few more benefits to the list of positives. It can help lessen the incidences of tomcats wandering off in search of a female. These cats often engage in fights with other males over disputed territory. The natural response to mate causes them to leave their homes and roam the neighborhood, which opens them up to a host of illnesses spread by other cats in the neighborhood. There is also an increased chance of being hit by a car when crossing roads. The chances of being attacked and severely injured or killed by dogs roaming the neighborhood are also higher.

Desexing male cats can reduce the amount of yowling and incessant crying, as well as keeping them home. If done early, it can also stave off spraying behaviors. This will keep your yard and home smelling much fresher and cleaner. In female cats, spaying can not only recent unwanted pregnancies, it can reduce your cat’s chances of developing breast cancer. Studies show that female cats come to heat from around 5 months of age onward and it rolls around every 2 to 3 weeks. It draws every stray tomcat in the neighborhood to your house. Cats usually spring back after desexing within about 10 days.

Other opinions on when to desex your cat

Pet MD acknowledges the ongoing debate among vets about when the best time to desex a cat actually is. It is generally agreed upon that there are three options. The first is n extremely early age desexing at between six to eight weeks. The standard recommendation is at five to six months, and the third is after your cat has come into heat for the first time. This can be delayed as long as eight to twelve months of age. Some vets are hesitant to perform the procedure until five to six months of age because of the potential of side-effects in younger cats from anesthesia. All agree, however, that it’s important to have your cat desexed to prevent unwanted litters.

Final thoughts

The debate continues over the best age to desex your cat. In Australia, the statistics show that more veterinarians are leaning towards early age desexing at 4 months. This seems to be the trending standard recommendation. Opinions are a bit different in the United States. A small minority of pet health professionals are in favor of desexing cats between six to eight weeks of age, but most agree that it’s safer to wait until a kitten is a little older. In America, the standard recommendation is to desex at six months of age, with some taking back to 5 or 6 months. Some even recommend waiting until the first heat which may not happen until eight to twelve months. Whether you opt to go with the early age desexing or go with the standard recommendation, it’s wise to have your cat desexed at the earliest possible age that is safe. The health and convenience benefits are so immense. It can save you a lot of grief because if you wait too long, you’ll have to deal with the annoying cat behaviors that go along with the instinctual mating process. It’s more fun to enjoy a well-behaved cat that doesn’t play chicken with traffic or multiply before your very eyes.

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