Yes, you love your kitten so much and you hope this furry bundle of joy will always be healthy and will be your companion for many, many years.
One way for your kitten to grow into a healthy cat is to spay or neuter your pet, says David F. Kramer in the article “From What Age Should You Spay or Neuter Your Cat?” in PetMD.
Benefits of Spaying or Neutering
1. Spaying a female cat before the first heat cycle “virtually eliminates” the risk of breast or mammary cancer, Kramer says, citing an interview with Dr. Jennifer Coates, veterinary advisor with PetMD.
An owner would want to remove this risk if possible as Dr. Coates said this kind of cancer can be very aggressive in cats compared to other species.
2. Other kinds of cancer that your cat will be spared from after spaying are ovarian and uterine cancers or a potentially fatal uterine infection called a pyometra, Dr. Coates said.
3. The possibility of complications that can occur during pregnancy and childbirth will also be removed if a cat is spayed, she added.
4. The benefits of neutering (for male cats), on the other hand, are “primarily behavioral,“ Coates said.
“Anyone who as ever tried living with an intact male cat will tell you that the vocalizations, escape attempts, roaming, fighting and urine spraying associated with normal tomcat behavior can get old really quick,” she said.
5. Neutering also removes the possibility of a cat developing testicular cancer, Coates added.
6. Fatal diseases like feline AIDS and leukemia can be spread between cats through bites. Catfights occur during sexual competition, Coates said.
If the urge to mate is reduced, this will reduce the urge to fight. This will thus reduce the possibility of your cat contracting AIDS or leukemia, Coates said.
“Every study has shown spaying/neutering to be beneficial in regards to behavior and preventing disease. Behaviorally, cats are less likely to mark inappropriately in the house, less likely to roam outside, and less likely to engage in fighting with other cats. Medically, they are less likely to get certain cancers and infections,” Kramer quoted Dr. Adam Denish of Rhawnhurst Animal Hospital in Elkins Park, PA.
Responsible pet ownership
Kramer stresses it is very important to have your cat spayed or neutered to:
1. keep your cat healthy and away from cat fights. Responsible pet owners would have their cat spayed or neutered.
2. reduce pet overpopulation and thus reduce the number of cats being abandoned and neglected, who end up as strays or are euthanized in kill shelters.
“Too often, we view spaying and neutering through our own eyes, and how it might affect us, and assume that our pets would look at it the same way. As Coates puts it, ‘physiologically and behaviorally speaking, cats are made to reproduce as frequently as possible. Obviously, we have to put a stop to that. I think it is more humane to surgically eliminate the desire to mate than to block mating but leave the urge intact,’” Kramer said.
Right age to spay or neuter a cat
The right age to “fix” a cat has been the subject of debate among veterinarians, Kramer noted.
Kramer cites three options enumerated by Dr. Denish:
1. Early or pediatric spay/neuter at six to eight weeks of age.
2. Standard spay and neuter at five to six months.
3. After the first heat, between eight (8) to twelve (12) months of age.
But Dr. Denish prefers doing the procedure at five (5) months of age.
“As a vet who has done thousands of spays and neuters, I still perform them at five months of age. The pets are a good size, the owners have already trained and accepted them, and the anesthesia and surgery are usually safe,” Dr. Denish said.
Dr. Denish added: “The concerns over early spay/neuter are mostly due to the prevailing opinion that new owners may not do the procedure, and the pet is free to breed. The additional offspring contributes to the overpopulation of cats in the wild, as well as the burden of euthanizing unwanted and ill cats at shelters.”
Kramer notes there are definite health benefits for the cat at whatever age the cat is spayed or neutered.
Risks of spaying or neutering
All medical procedure have risks, Dr. Coates said.
“For instance, neutered male cats are at higher risk for developing urinary blockages, and cats who have been spayed or neutered do have a tendency to gain weight if their diets aren’t adjusted accordingly. “
Regularly monitoring your cats, and ensuring a healthy diet and intake of water, can prevent these problems.
“Owners should always talk to their own veterinarian about what is best for their particular pet, but the benefits of spay/neuter almost always outweigh the risks,” Dr. Coates stressed.
Dr. Denish also emphasized that it is the owner’s responsibility to take care of his/her pet.
“They live in our world, our homes and interact with our family and other pets. That means that if spaying/neutering is beneficial, it should be done at any safe time,” he stressed.
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