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Spaying or neutering your cat is an important part of pet ownership. That’s because the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) reports that the stray cat population in the U.S. could be as high as 70 million. The reality is that many cats who enter shelters cannot find a home and are euthanized. If you don’t spay or neuter your cat, he or she will likely add to the overpopulation of stray cats.

New cat owners wonder: Is there a specific age to spay or neuter a cat? Let’s look at how to determine the best time to have this procedure done.

What age should I neuter my cat?

Not all veterinarians agree on when you should have your cat spayed or neutered. Generally, there are three choices:

  • Pediatric or early spay/neuter is done when the cat is four to six weeks old;
  • Standard spay/neuter is done when the cat is between five and six months old;
  • Waiting until after the first heat will put the cat around eight to twelve months old.

While there is some disagreement, there are good reasons behind having your cat spayed/neutered at what’s considered the standard time. The cats are a good size, the owners have trained them and the anesthesia and surgery are safe at this point.

Pros of spaying or neutering a cat

Across the board, experts recommend spaying and neutering cats. First of all, waiting longer than the standard period will allow the cat to breed and potentially contribute to the stray cat population. This benefits the domestic cat population and the general public.

There are other benefits too:

  • Spaying a cat before she has her first heat cycle almost eliminates the risk of mammary, (or breast) This condition tends to be very serious if contracted by female cats.
  • Spaying a female cat means they cannot develop ovarian and uterine cancers. They will also not have other health issues related to pregnancy such as complications with pregnancy and birthing.
  • For male cats, the risk of testicular cancer is eliminated and the risk of urinary blockages is reduced.
  • There are many behavioral pros as well, especially for male cats. Intact males are more prone to fighting, urine spraying, roaming, escape attempts and vocalizations.

While there may be minor disagreements on the age at which you should neuter your cat, there’s no disputing that it’s a critical part of pet ownership. While you might try to think about yourself in the cat’s position, you shouldn’t assume that the cat perceives things the way you do. Veterinarians note that it’s more humane to surgically remove the desire to mate rather than to leave the urge intact but attempt to prevent mating.

We hope this addresses whether there is a specific age to spay or neuter a cat. At Sunnyside Pet Hospital, we’re here to offer lifelong health care for your pets. We provide each pet owner with a comprehensive evaluation and consultation so that you can feel confident about your pet’s wellbeing. Contact us today to learn more and schedule your pet’s first appointment.