We all know there are too many unwanted kitties, so the population needs to be controlled.
For queens, spaying means being relieved of coming into season. During this time, the girls will yowl and howl, attracting toms from all over the neighborhood. Spaying also helps prevent pyometra (infection of the womb) and mammary tumors.
For toms, neutering helps lower aggression levels, which means they are less likely to wander off and less likely to fight. This means fewer injuries, fewer vet bills, and less risk of FIV and FeLV. Also, intact toms spray their territory with strong smelling urine, which neutered toms tend not to.
Currently it is tradition to spay and neuter pet cats around 6 months, but a hundred years ago, vets would neuter kittens as young as 2 months. Some vets now suggest we should go back to neutering sexually immature kittens.
For some time, there were concerns that early neutering might lead to:
- Stunting of normal growth
- Inactivity and obesity in later life
- Improper development of the urinary tract in toms, leading to increased chances of cystitis or urinary obstruction in later life.
In 1996 vets at the University in Florida (insert link to paper here: https://europepmc.org/abstract/med/8944799) conducted a study where 31 cats were divided into three groups: group one had kittens neutered or spayed at 7 weeks, group two at 7 months and group three after 1 year.
The study tracked and tested the cats for a year and found all these concerns were unwarranted.
A similar study from the Texas A&M University (insert link to paper here: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Theresa_Fossum/publication/12218586_Long-term_outcome_of_gonadectomy_performed_at_an_early_age_or_traditional_age_in_cats/links/00b49528e0e31f002b000000.pdf) involving 263 cats over three years, confirmed the result.
Finally, a study by vets at Ghent University, Belgium in 2014 (insert link to paper: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Hilde_Rooster/publication/262691001_Development_of_behavior_in_adopted_shelter_kittens_after_gonadectomy_performed_at_an_early_age_or_at_a_traditional_age/links/549c328b0cf2b8037138bb7d.pdf) that examined these concerns as well as other behaviour issues such as missing the litter box, anxiety, aggression and destructiveness found these problems were the result of early neutering but issues founded in the cats were treated by their owners. Punishment by the owner was particularly singled out as a particular trigger.
So the bottom line is this: if your kitten is healthy, you may want to talk to your vet about early neutering or spaying. Anything’s better than adding to the shelter kitty population!