9539 Liberty Road, Frederick, MD 21701
Phone: 301-898-4009 ~ Fax: 240-668-3664
Gentle, complete veterinary care for the felines in your family
Link map for Frederick Cat Vet for directions, hours, bio of the veterinarian and staff, veterinary services offered and a tour of the veterinary practice

Why should kittens be spayed and neutered?

It is ideal for every kitten to be spayed or neutered. Both spaying and neutering are surgical sterilization procedures. The term spay is used for a female kitten and neuter for a male kitten. At Frederick Cat Vet, we recommend this surgery at four months of age. It can be done later but there are several benefits for this particular age. Typically, we have already performed at least one complete physical examination, addressed any health concerns including parasites and given the full complement of necessary vaccinations.

Healthy, robust kittens at this age typically weigh 4 to 5 pounds, and males usually are larger than females. It is common practice at shelters to do this procedure for kittens as young as 8 weeks of age. The reason for this is to ensure that adopted kittens will not have a litter and contribute to the problem of overpopulation. There have not been any studies that show this is too young, but we do prefer to wait until they are a little older. The surgery can be done at any age, but older cats usually have a longer surgery and require more pain medication to keep them comfortable. At four months of age, the ovaries in the female, and the testes in the male are less developed and removal is less involved. With this surgery, there is no impact on their development into a mature kitten and adult cat.

Kittens reach sexual maturity between 6 and 9 months of age, although earlier than 6 months occasionally occurs. Signs of this maturity are evident in the female going into heat with loud howling vocalizations, displays of receptivity and attempts to get outside to find a mate. With each heat cycle, a female kitten has a marked increase in the chances of mammary cancer later in life. When the surgery is done prior to the first heat cycle, this occurrence is extremely rare.

Male kittens also furiously try to find a mate and often begin marking their territory (i.e your house) with urine and/or develop aggressive behaviors. Cats that have not been spayed or neutered are much less likely to make good, indoor pets and will always have the urge to roam the neighborhood. This behavior brings the perils of getting diseases from other cats, interactions with wildlife, skin and intestinal parasites and the possibility of getting hit by a car.

There are 70-75 million cats kept as pets in the United States, and current estimates suggest that an equal number of cats have no home. These stray cats have much shorter lives as they face the same perils of wildlife in the nexus of nature and modern society. Cats that are spayed and neutered enjoy long, healthy, playful and pampered lives.

-Mike Karg, DVM