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Early Age Spay-Neuter is Safe

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
Many people are under the impression that early age spay neuter is not safe - and, in fact, many believe that it adversely affects a kitten's behavior, health, growth or personality. This is not the case.

The Winn Feline Foundation (created by The Cat Fancier's Association in 1968 to create a source of funding for medical studies to improve the health and welfare of cats) conducted a long-term study to determine the effects of early age spay-neuter in cats. In the study

The kittens were divided into three groups:

Group 1 (11 kittens) were neutered or spayed at 7 weeks of age.

Group 2 (11 kittens) were neutered or spayed at 7 months.

Group 3 (the control group of 9 kittens) were not neutered until maturity and after the completion of the first phase of the study at 12 months.

An excerpt from the report:

"....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.....The results of this study so far indicate that the differences between cats neutered at 7 weeks and 7 months are insignificant. "

For a complete read, here is a link to the study report: http://www.winnfelinehealth.org/repo...ly-neuter.html

The recognition of safety and effectiveness of early age spay/neuter have led the AVMA, the American Humane Society, and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals all to support early age spay-neuter - most of them for in excess of 10 years now.

post #2 of 11
Thanks for writing this up for us! It is excellent information for everyone involved in TNR to know.
post #3 of 11
I've actually seen younger kittens at our feral clinic. I think they are starting to accept kittens at an earlier age. We always ooohhh and aaaahhhh at how cute they are.


P.S. The rescue I volunteer with does spay/neuter at 8 weeks. The kittens come around so nicely and everyone is surprized how young we spay/neuter them.
post #4 of 11
I posted a question about neutering a young puppy on another forum. After much lively debate, it came down to this (and there was no difference between cats and dogs on this debate).

There is no health risk with neutering young, as long as in the case of a male it's testicles have descended and does not need extensive spay-like surgery. From a long term health perspective, there was really no difference between early speuter and later speuter.

The only noted difference (and this was provided by a vet), was the appearance of the young neutered cat/dog when fully mature. These pets typically have a "young" look about them. I knew exactly what she meant when I looked at Dakota and Sage, neutered at 8 weeks old. They are nearly full grown and their heads still look like kitten heads. The same is happening with Spanky and Oscar who were also neutered young.

I do support young speutering.
post #5 of 11
Thread Starter 
The only real resistance to early "speutering" is that many vets don't have experience working on such small animals.
post #6 of 11
I volunteered at a shelter that did early spay/neuter on kittens the entire 7 years I was there. They went to a special vet who pioneered the surgery. They wouldn't trust any vet with the little ones but rather ones who were up on the latest techniques.

In a stressful shelter environment, they decided to up the age from 2months/2 pounds to 2.5 pounds. This half pound really seemed to give the kittens an edge. The earlier spay/neuter on top of the transition from foster home to shelter environment brought on some illnesses in the 2 pounders.

Also they decided to stop pulling kittens' food the night before surgery so they wouldn't have a blood sugar drop, and after surgery to give everyone 1cc Karo syrup as a boost. These things seemed to help the little ones en masse make it through.

The shelter did successful early s/n on hundreds of kittens at this age.
post #7 of 11
Thread Starter 
Wildgrace, that is excellent info, and thank you so much for sharing it!

Amy - forgot to thank you too.
post #8 of 11
I was concerned about this only because I have ferrets and adrenal disease (which is very common) is thought to be caused by early spay/neuter. In a ferret's case, at least those that come from a ferret mill, they are spay/neutered around the age of 4-5 weeks in an assembly line type of atmosphere by a non-vet. Supposedly, the adrenal glands try and make up for the lack of hormones present after surgery. Again, all speculative at this point.
post #9 of 11
Thread Starter 
Glad we could allay your concerns.
post #10 of 11
Thank you all for posting that , it was very interesting for me . I think now a lot of people are more comfi with early spay/neuter
post #11 of 11
Thread Starter 
With kitten season upon us, I thought it appropriate that I bump up this thread for the benefit of some newer members who may not know that it is safe to spay and neuter kittens as early as seven weeks old.
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