At What Age Should You Neuter a Cat?

While it was common to wait until six months to one year of age, cat breeds seem to recover best if the neutering or spay is performed earlier. Extensive studies show that waiting until a kitten reached adulthood is not always best.

Spaying Procedure in Female Cats

During a female cat spay, surgical removal of her ovaries and uterus occurs. If you wait until the cat is old enough to have her first heat, veterinarians will charge more if you wait. During a heat, blood flow to the uterus increases making the surgery more difficult.

Some people mean well and plan to have their cat fixed, but with advancing age, cat owners may push the surgery aside due to the added cost for a cat in heat. If an unfixed cat continues to have heats year after year and never mates, she can develop pyometra, a situation in which the uterus fills with pus. This really drives up the cost of your pet's veterinary care.

It's critical to have your female cat fixed before six months. Many veterinary offices will spay a female at twelve weeks of age. Cat owners find their pets recover quickly at this younger age and studies show no ill effects of spaying early in kittenhood. Post-spay adult cat care shows cats take longer to come out of the anesthesia and generally are in more pain for longer than kittens.

Neutering Procedure in Male Cats

The neutering procedure involves removing the cat's testicles. Most male cats reach their sexual maturity at six months of age. Cat owners frequently complain that their kitten's behavior changes. Many begin spraying walls and furniture as they mark their territory, a common behavior at this sexually mature age. Cat owners who wait until the kitten reaches adulthood become frustrated with the damage to home.

The Winn Feline Foundation did a study of early neutering. Three test groups included three age groups: seven weeks, seven months and one year. After a full year of observation, they found no difference in health or growth between the groups following the neuter surgery. For this reason, many vets now urge cat owners to have their male cats neutered far before they reach one or two cat years.

Recovery from a Spay or Neuter Surgery

After a spay or neuter, it is important to monitor your pet for a day or two. Check the incision site for swelling, redness or pus. You can use cat's massage techniques to soothe your pet. Some pain and tenderness may bother your pet, but massage therapy often alleviates those issues so that pain relievers are unnecessary.

Cats aging into their adult years before the spay or neuter will require a longer recovery time. Pamper your pet with treats, warm towels and plenty of TLC until the cat is moving around as normal.

Regardless of age, cat breeds do require a bit of recovery time following a spay or neuter surgery. Don't expect your cat to be running around the next day. Male cats will recover more quickly because they only have two tiny incisions that do not require stitches. Female cats will spend a day or two sleeping and walking gingerly.