Clearing Up Confusion: Schedule Your Cat's Spay Today


If you adopted a tiny stray kitten a few years ago, your veterinarian probably advised you to schedule her spay procedure to take place when she was between five and six months of age. Today, if you adopt a two-month-old kitten from an animal shelter, you will discover that she is already spayed. If you are confused about when a kitten should be spayed and whether or not spaying early will have negative consequences to her health later, read on to learn the feline facts of life and why all cats, including indoor cats who have no direct contact with male cats, should be spayed as soon as possible.

The Female Feline Cycle

Female kitties reach sexual maturity at an average of five to six months, at which time they experience their first heat cycle, or estrus. Some cats may go into heat for the first time as early as four months, and others may be late bloomers and go into heat as late as eight or 10 months. Breed and seasonal environmental factors, such as temperature and daylight hours, play a role in these variations. There are two notable differences between female cats and female dogs. Dogs go into heat twice a year, on average, and experience vaginal bleeding, whereas cats can go into estrus every few weeks until they are impregnated, and vaginal bleeding is not typically seen in cats. Spaying your cat will put an end to the behavioral signs of estrus, such as persistent yowling and provocative posturing, and provide some healthy benefits as well.

Benefits of Spaying

The most obvious reason to have a cat spayed is to prevent unwanted pregnancies that contribute to the pet overpopulation problem. If you are thinking that your indoor cat is securely sequestered and will not become pregnant, there are other compelling reasons to have your cat spayed, including the following:

  • Heat cycling increases a cat's risk for developing mammary cancer. According to the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, spaying your cat before her first estrus can drop her risk of this cancer by up to 91 percent.
  • Repeated heat cycling predisposes the cat to developing pyometra, which is a life-threatening uterine infection that must be treated as an emergency by spaying the cat. However, spaying a cat with pyometra carries significant risks and complications.

The spay procedure, also known as an ovariohysterectomy, involves surgical removal of the female cat's ovaries and uterine horns, which eliminates the cycling female hormones and the chance of developing uterine infections. If you have an intact adult female cat, keep in mind that it is never too late to spay a cat to reduce or eliminate her risks for these conditions. Ideally, the procedure should be performed before a cat's first estrus to gain the greatest benefits.

Differences in Practice for a Common Goal

When it comes to preventing unwanted litters of kittens and future homeless cats from filling the nation's overcrowded shelters, all veterinarians concur that spaying a young cat before she goes into heat offers the greatest chance at achieving that goal. This is why most animal shelters now spay kittens as early as two months of age. This practice ensures that once a kitten is adopted and leaves the shelter with her new family, there is zero chance that she will produce more kittens to fill up the shelter's cattery. Advising new kitten owners to have their cat spayed at five to six months of age has been the gold standard of most veterinarians for years, and many continue to follow the tradition. Veterinarians in both shelters and in private practice all want the same thing, which is to curb the overpopulation of unwanted pets that end up being euthanized. With the endorsement of early spaying by various veterinary organizations, including the American Veterinary Medical Association and the American Animal Hospital Association, an increasing number of veterinarians in private practice are backing down on their former recommendations and are now spaying their feline patients sooner than later.

Ensuring Safe Spays

Pediatric spays and neuters, which are defined as those performed between the ages of six and 14 weeks, initially raised concerns about the following potential problems:

  • Safety of anesthesia use in patients of such a young age
  • Placing cats at greater risk for obesity
  • Predisposing cats to urinary tract disease
  • Compromising the cats' normal physical growth and development

According to the Cat Fanciers' Association, which now allows spayed and neutered kittens to compete in their shows, the Winn Feline Foundation has been conducting an ongoing study to evaluate these concerns. Their observations have revealed that pediatric spaying and neutering has shown no detrimental effects to the health and development of the cats in their study. As for the safety of the procedure itself, steps are taken to prevent hyperthermia and hypoglycemia, and no kitten is spayed until she weighs one kilogram, or 2.2 pounds. According to the position statement released by the American Association of Feline Practitioners, veterinarians use this weight as a guideline because it indicates a point in the kitten's development in which the liver, the organ that is responsible for eliminating anesthetic agents from the cat's system, has reached a mature level of function.

While early spaying is widely endorsed by professional institutions, your veterinarian will make a recommendation regarding when to spay your kitten based upon her individual overall health, development and risk. Whatever time frame he or she recommends, stick to it. Schedule the spay procedure today so that the date is on your calendar and will be less likely to be forgotten about. Contact a business, such as Caring Hands Animal Hospital, for more information. 


24 February 2017

Happy, Healthy Pets: Everything You Need to Know

Hello, my name is Katrina, and I love my dog. We live out in the country, so he is able to run a lot. He even has neighboring dogs who come to see him and play. However, fresh air and exercise are not the only things he needs. He also needs a healthy diet, the right shots, and care for his mental health. If you are a pet owner, you will love the tips that I plan to include in this blog. I'm going to focus these posts on everything you need to know to keep your dog happy and healthy. I hope these ideas help you, and I wish you and your pet many years of happiness and good health together.