When to Spay or Neuter

The decision to spay or neuter your pet is one that is often easy to make. As Bob Barker always closed out each episode of “The Price is Right,” having pets spayed and neutered can help control the pet population, but beyond that it can also be beneficial for your pet’s health and eliminate “bad” behaviors that often come with unaltered cats.

Kitten at VetFor example, male cats that haven’t been neutered will frequently spray on furniture or other belongings as a way of marking their territory. If, however, the cat is neutered young enough, they tend to not develop this behavior, says the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. This also helps keep your home free of foul odors and unwanted urine spots. Spayed cats, likewise, will not go into heat during the year, which often makes female cats more flighty and loud as they yowl and do everything they can to escape the home and attract a tom.

Cats should generally be at least eight weeks old before scheduling an appointment with the vet to have him or her spayed or neutered. Kittens must also weigh at least 2 pounds and be in good health prior to their appointment. This standard has changed over the years, with former standards sometimes calling for the alteration surgery to be done no earlier than six months or even one year of age. However, most modern veterinarians – and even the American Veterinary Medical Association – now stand by pediatric procedures, according to WebMD’s pet advice and information section.

The ASPCA also recommends that pet parents not delay on having their cat’s surgery scheduled. The longer you wait before having a pet spayed or neutered, the higher the likelihood that your cat may develop unwanted spraying habits or even become accidentally pregnant – something that can happen with female kittens as young as six months old.

In addition, spaying or neutering can even help promote a longer life for your cat. With females, spaying can reduce occurrences of mammary tumors or pyometra – a serious and potentially life-threatening infection of the uterus – says WebMD. Similarly, altered males are protected from developing testicular cancer or diseases. Beyond just the behavior benefits of spaying and neutering, you may be investing in more years together with your furry friend.

The ASPCA and many other organizations offer resources to help make spaying and neutering procedures more affordable, helping to not only promote healthier cats but also a manageable and controlled feline population. Check out the ASPCA’s searchable database of low-cost programs for more information.