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Neutering Before 12 Weeks

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
I've heard a lot about that neutering before 12 weeks (or puberty) causes urinary/bladder problems and that the cats grow up to be small, scrawny, and gangly. Is that true? I'm wondering about this because I am trying to decide when to neuter my kitten. My sister has been speaking really strongly against neutering before puberty and has been trying to convince me of the downsides of this. But I'm wondering if maybe she's exaggerating. What do you guys think?
post #2 of 9
I've not heard anything bad about it.

All of my kittens will be done before they leave her assumingly before 12 weeks--they have to be 2 lbs for the clinic to do it.

post #3 of 9
From CFA's website regarding early neuter/spay. Interesting reading on the topic. I prefer to wait till 3-4 months old. I'm hesitant on doing it before 12 weeks.

There are 2 articles (not the same thing)
post #4 of 9
Your sister is wrong and uninformed. Her opinions are not based on fact.

Cats spayed/neutered at 7 weeks show no differences in health, growth, or behavior than cats spayed at 7 months. In fact, they are generally larger, not scrawnier (makes sense if you think about it - that energy goes into growth, not into "sexual maturity." )

Both of these groups of cats tend to weigh a little more than cats spayed at over 1 year old, but if you read the publication you will see weight is not an issue because of the spaying/neutering and they were not "fat" or lazy cats. I don't know anyone, anywhere or any vet that recommends cats be spayed at anything older than 6 months.

The truth is that early age spay neutering (as young as 7 weeks) is safe.

Basically, the short and long term effects of early spay/neutering were compared between three groups. The only real difference in the early spay/neuter group is that they healed up faster.

Here were the groups used in the study:

Group 1, those spayed/neutered at 7 weeks
Group 2, those spayed/neutered at 7 months
Group 3, those spayed/neutered after sexual maturity at 12 months

Developmental and Behavioral Effects of Prepubertal Gonadectomy. Mark S. Bloomberg, DVM, MS; W.P. Stubbs, DVM; D.F. Senior, BVSc; Thomas J. Lane, BS, DVM; University of Florida at Gainesville. Funded by the Winn Feline Foundation, February 1991. Continuation funded February 1992.

There was generally no difference in food consumption between the three groups other than the differences between males and females, which were consistent in all groups. There was no difference observed in the growth rates in all three groups, although the males grew faster in all groups. Increased long bone length was observed in both males and females in Groups 1 and 2. This appeared to be due to the fact that physeal closing (closure of the bone growth plate) was delayed in Groups 1 & 2. This explains why cats neutered and spayed as kittens are frequently larger (longer and taller) than unaltered cats or cats altered later in life. This seems to be particularly true for males.

In terms of behavior, after 7 months, the cats in Group 3 were noticeably less affectionate and more aggressive prior to altering than the cats in Groups 1 and 2. Contrary to popular opinion, neutered animals were as active as their unaltered age mates.

Observations of urinary tract development showed no differences between the three groups other than the differences related to sex and these were consistent across all groups. The investigators measured the diameter of the urethra in the male kittens only and found no differences between the groups. Concerns have been raised that early neutering would result in smaller diameters in the urinary tract, resulting in an increased incidence of cystitis and related problems. This does not appear to be the case.... Concerns that development of the urinary tract might be arrested or impaired by early spaying and neutering proved unsupported.

The results of this study so far indicate that the differences between cats neutered at 7 weeks and 7 months are insignificant.
Most vets go by weight rather than "week" age, and 2 pounds is usually the requirement.

post #5 of 9
I would be hesitant (and so was my vet) to do it exactly at the required 2 pounds. Jake was about 14 weeks when he was neutered and I was more comfortable. I honestly don't see a huge difference whether it will be 8 weeks or 12-14 weeks. the kitten hasn't matured all that much in an extra month, it still hasn't reached puberty so it's still pediatric neuter, it's just not at the bare minimum of weight and age.
post #6 of 9
The practice of early spay/neuter has been done routinely for over 20 years now. Long enough for thorough studies to identify any adverse effects from it. Most of mine (dogs and cats) were speutered at 8 weeks old and none of them are spindly.
post #7 of 9
For shelters, I think any age they have to do it is fine, so they can get the babies into new homes ASAP. For owned cats, I prefer to wait for 12-16 weeks. They're just SO tiny before that, I hate to put them through the surgery. Boys you can even wait longer, since they don't usually start spraying until they're 6-7 months old. But girls can and do go into heat at 4 months, so my favorite age for spaying is 12-14 weeks. With boys I don't sweat it, I just have it done whenever I get around to it (before 7 months).
post #8 of 9

I agree with the others, it shouldn't have any negative affect on the cats health.

Personally I'd spay at that age if the cat is to be re-homed (by a shelter), as way too many cats seem to get out "accidently" when in heat and we sadly already have an overpopulation.

If it were my cat I'd spay at 4 1/2 months if I had a unaltered tom (for example a brother and sister combo ) and at 6 months if there is no danger of a tom beeing around.

It will also depend on what the vet's use to doing. If your vet is uncomfortable with performing an early spay find another one who is or wait a bit longer.


post #9 of 9
Over my lifetime my cats & dogs were all desexed at 6 mths. Due to ppl not having their pet done at all & contributing to the overpopulation of unwanted dogs & cats they are now done at an early age. The argument against such many years ago was that their organs were far too small to be operated on.
I 1st became aware of the early spay/neuter controversy when I was researching it with regards to Blossom. I had read that early s/n lead to cats having longer legs. But learning about female cats always being on heat until mated from my vet I had Blossom spayed at 5 mths.
When I was researching getting another puppy I came across this link
It was enough to decide me to wait until my new puppy had had one heat before having her spayed. This I did & she was spayed a month ago at the age of 14 mths after having her heat at 10 mths of age.
From talking to cat breeders about their kittens, most won't sell them until 12 weeks old after having them s/n at 10 weeks.
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