How Old Does a Cat Have to be to Get Neutered?

How old to get neutered image

How old does a cat have to be to get neutered? We know that neutering is essential when raising a house pet or they can develop some very unsavory habits. For cats who are allowed outdoors they can also begin having kittens before they themselves are fully grown.

In the age old debate some vets say three months, other as early as two, and still others advise waiting until the kitten is several months old. Is it any wonder cat owners are confused? 

Most female cats can experience their first cycle before 6 months. However, some breeds such as Siamese may go into heat as young as 4 months. Other breeds may not become sexually mature until 10 months.

It should be fine to have your kitten altered as young as 2 months old, particularly for males since the procedure is far less invasive. However, if you feel that is too young for your house pet, it’s fairly sensible to have a female spayed around the 5-month mark.

As long as your kitten is at least 2 months old the risks of general anesthesia is minimal. Today’s methods guard against dangers such as hypoglycemia and hypothermia. Surgical techniques have also improved to keep your kitten safe.

How Old Does a Cat Have to be? – Determining Your Kitten’s Age

Your kitten’s weight 

If you didn’t buy your cat from a breeder your vet can tell you how old your kitten is. But you can often determine your kittens age by looking for signs that will tell you. A well-fed two-month-old kitten should weigh about 2 pounds. A kitten must be at least two pounds to undergo de-sexing surgery. A kitten may not survive surgery if smaller than that. If you have a small kitchen scale that goes up to 2 pounds, you’ll know for sure your kitten’s weight.

Your kitten’s teeth

If unsure how old your kitten is, it will have baby teeth at one to three months old. If adult teeth are beginning to come in the kitten is at least four months old.

Your kitten’s development

At two months a kitten is fully weaned and eating kitten food. Their coordination is good and it’s getting around and probably getting into trouble! Yes, your kitten is now a little stunt devil. It has probably discovered toys, and your feet, and is probably about 2 months old.

Give it some time if your cat has been vaccinated recently 

It’s a good idea to vaccinate before the big day because there’s always some danger of infection when at the veterinary clinic. Don’t worry, a good animal hospital will take every precaution but who wants to take a chance with something as precious as your kitten? Allow some time between vaccinating and neutering to minimize stressing out your baby.

Why do some cat owners wait longer to get their cat neutered?

At one time vets advised waiting as long as possible before having a male kitten ‘’fixed’’ to avoid blockages of the urethra from calcium oxalate stones. The theory was that the urethra should be full grown before neutering. An immature urethra has since been taken off the list of possible causes of calcium oxalate blockages. Breeders are now routinely having males neutered at 2 months without any future instances of blockage.

It was also once recommended not to have a female cat spayed before her first cycle. It’s now known that spaying earlier minimizes the risk of urinary disorders and even some types of cancer, particularly breast cancer. Removing your pet’s ovaries or testes offers a decreased risk of health problems such as urinary incontinence and some types of cancer.

It was also thought in the past that altering a kitten could cause socialization problems. Studies have found no such instances of increased shyness in early neutered kittens or increased aggression and less affection caused by late neutered cats. Studies also show no growth or physical development abnormalities associated with early sterilization.

All experts agree that if your cat will spend part of it’s time outdoors it’s by far better to spay early than to wait until she becomes accidentally pregnant.

When you bring your kitten to the vet for vaccinations or its first checkup discuss when the kitten should be ready for spaying or neutering and ask him or her any questions you may have about the process. It’s a good idea to write down questions to take with you.

Should you Spay or Neuter? Yes!

Health benefits

If you are not using the cat for breeding purposes, you are doing you pet a vast disfavor by not spaying or neutering.  Even if your female will be solely a house pet spaying, and the short recovery discomfort that goes with it, will be worth it by preventing wear and tear on your nervous system (they are loud and vastly annoying during heat), as well as, health problems such as uterine infections and ovarian or uterine cancer later.  

Neutering a male kitten young can also lessen the risk of benign prostatic hyperplasia, otherwise known as enlarged prostate gland and testicular cancer.

Behavior benefits

If you want a well-behaved cat spaying then neutering is essential.  Males may bite and become aggressive if not neutered. They will spray urine on walls and furniture to mark their territory.  

If you have more than one cat your cat kingdom will be far more peaceful if all are ‘’fixed.’’ If your male will be outside it could suffer fighting injuries, abscesses are but one. Even house cats will fight and injure each other. Male cats also wonder and go many blocks, sometimes miles, away from home. 

If you have a female in heat the destination of roaming male cats will be your yard with all the noise and fighting that non-neutered male cats are famous for.  Intact cats are more likely to be killed or injured in traffic accidents.  Or meet with human violence. Sometimes they never come home.  These cats are more likely to catch various cat viruses and diseases such as FIV and FeLV from other cats. If you want sweet, well-behaved, affectionate pets spaying and neutering is essential.

Benefits to society

Female cats can have up to three litters in a single year. The shelters are filled with kittens, many who will never know a loving secure home or the joys of being a cat.  Even the no-kill shelters are overflowing with more kittens than they can find homes for.  Also kittens—because they’re little and precious—take away homes from the adult cats in shelters who need loving families.  In many cases, these adults who would make ideal family members lose their lives due to over crowding and lack of financial resources.  Female cats also hunt to feed their kittens and their favorite hunting grounds is under your neighbor’s bird feeder. This makes for very strained neighbor relations—to say the least! And sometimes the cat is shot or even poisoned.

Neutering Cats in Different Situations

Pedigree kitten bought from a breeder

Some breeders have kittens that will be used for house pets neutered or spayed before they go home to their new families. Others simply insist that the new owner have the kitten neutered unless the cat will be used for breeding purposes. Breeders recommend allowing two to three weeks for the kitten to get comfortable with the new home and family before neutering or spaying. These kittens will be about four months when altered.

‘’Free to good home’’

These kittens are with their mother until about six to seven weeks. Neutering/spaying is left to the discretion to the new owner. Make the appointment for neutering/spaying two or three weeks after the kitten is vaccinated.

Rescue Organization 

Kittens can be adopted from eight or nine weeks.  Sometimes they will neuter the kitten before it goes home at about 10 to 12 weeks. When kittens are neutered on site by a veterinary facility the risk of infection is reduced.  Some will give coupons or vouchers for free sterilization.   The new owner will need to sign a document saying they will have the kitten neutered or spayed.

Feral kittens

If these kittens are caught before seven to eight weeks they can neutered as rescue kittens. If they will be in a trap/neuter/release program they will be sterilized as young as seven to eight weeks.

It’s difficult to think of our innocent oh-so-small and adorable fur baby undergoing anything frightening and painful. It’s human nature to want to protect it at all costs,  but the sterilization procedure today is quick, safe, and even for a female, as minimally invasive as possible. Your little one will be given meds for pain. A female might be kept overnight in the animal hospital. A male might feel a little groggy at first but will be his usually bouncing ball of energy in a day or two. 

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