Should cats be spayed before first heat?

In terms of fitness and health, are there more data/anecdotes on one side vs the other?

Ever been around a cat that’s in heat? I’d say so. (Seriously, a cat in heat is in absolute misery if she can’t get laid. Get her fixed as soon as the vet says she’s old enough.)

(And I don’t know about your vet, but ours’ gave us pain meds. And THAT was almost 14 years ago – so I’m guessing it’s probably standard now procedure now)

Pediatric spay and neuter is the way to go if you want them to have the easiest recovery time.

Going only by my experience with my girls, I know that my vet recommends it be done by the kitten’s weight rather than age or sexual maturity. That may have to do with the kitten’s ability to undergo the anesthesia better. Charley was 4 months old, Emily 5 months, and Annie 6 months.

Spaying or neutering can be done when the kitten weighs 1 kilogram, and that usually happens at around age 2 months.

Cats in heat will mate with any willing male partner, and that includes their littermates or fathers. Some of the rescue cat-cams I watch have had litters where it was obvious that all the kittens had different fathers.

One of our cats we thought was far too young to have to worry about it, and the vet recommended that we let her grow a bit first… until it became apparent that she wasn’t too young after all, and we had to do a pregnant spay, because she was too small to survive giving birth.

We think that the pregnancy hormones left her a little bit crazy (well, more crazy than is normal for a cat), because she eventually decided that one of our other cats was her kitten… despite that cat being four years her senior.

Spay early as possible, IMO.

I don’t know what is ideal for the cat’s health, but I know that all the local shelters spay and neuter before puberty, and the cats grow up to be healthy. Ours are getting on in years (teenagers) and are still healthy with no major problems yet. I think that’s common.

My vet, who is a feline specialist and has written textbooks, says yes.

What was the ideal weight they went with?

I’m sorry–I don’t remember. The most recent of those three was more than two years ago. I do remember being surprised that the vet wanted to do Charley that young, but she was already getting to be a big girl. She must have been 4 or 5 pounds.

(BTW, that’s Charley in my avatar, when she was about 6 weeks old.)

I think there’sa trade-off between the kitten being large enough and making sure it’s done. We used to foster kittens. When we started, we sent them back to the shelter at 2 months, I think, then they were sprayed and neutered and adopted out. But the shelter was able to find homes quickly, so they decided to keep the kittens until they were 3 months because it was safer for the kittens to wait that long. (And they could still find homes before they stopped being cute kittens.)

We once fostered the runt of a litter for a few weeks after her siblings were adopted it because she was small and they wanted her to be bigger before they spayed her.

We also once had a kitten who needed life-saving surgery when he was about 6 weeks old. They neutered him, too. I think the feeling was that as long as they had to sedate him, why not just take care of it and not subject him to more surgery later.

It’s a relatively minor procedure, and you’re probably right.

How did that kitten do in the end?

We returned him to the shelter to be adopted, so I don’t know for certain. But my guess is he did fine.

He was an orphan, in a litter of three. We bottle-fed them, but his sisters suckled on his penis, leading it to become inflamed, so he couldn’t pee. We found him unresponsive on the bathroom floor. The vet diagnosed the problem, and essentially did an emergency circumcision. That cured him, and he recovered immediately. The day we got him back from the vet he was bouncing around like any healthy kitten.

We were told to let the eventual owner know that he might need to be re-cut when he was older, as it was possible the scar tissue wouldn’t grow enough to work when he was an adult. But that seems like a minor problem to fix.

Bottle-feeding kittens is a huge amount of work, but those were the sweetest, most human-oriented kittens we ever fostered. I still sort of regret giving them back, and not keeping one. But we had enough cats then, and really didn’t need another.

On the neuter side, just to throw in that info, get that done early too. If the males hit sexual maturity before you neuter, you are looking at a more aggressive cat, and potentially one who permanently marks.

We missed the date once on one of ours. He spent a glorious time (to him) beating up his elders until we could get him snip-snipped. When he came home, they all showed him his proper place. He was never a happy go lucky guy again. Payback is a bitch.

I’ve had parents tell me that it’s more work than feeding human infants, although it obviously doesn’t last as long. I have seen kittens nurse on a male cat’s nipples, although NOTHING like this. :eek:

Yeah, for the first 2-3 weeks, they were more work than a newborn human. They also had health issues related to being orphans. One had a potentially deadly case of diarrhea and my husband stayed up an entire night dribbling pedialyte down the kitten’s throat. Kittens don’t much like fruit flavors, but it was too weak to protest much. It survived, and ended up being the pick of the litter. We called her “rat” because that’s what she looked like with her matted tail, but once she got old enough to groom herself she was gorgeous, and the most cuddly kitten I’ve ever had. Someone snapped her up when my husband brought them in for shots, weeks before the shelter usually allowed the kittens to be adopted out.

Our vet told us to bring Patches in when she was six months old to be spayed. So she goes under the knife in a couple of weeks. Poor baby, she’s already been to the vet once cos she had worms, and she did not like it at all!!! They held her down and shoved a thermometer up her butt, and then they drew blood. I had to cover my ears during that part. ;(

So I’m really not looking forward to this, but I know it’s the right thing to do. We’ve been keeping her inside until she’s fixed, because we had another stray, years ago get pregnant at 4 or 5 months, and she didn’t have any milk for her kittens, so we had to bottle feed them, too, and the whole situation was very sad.

I do want to spare Patches having to go through birth, and I want her to be able to run around outside during the day, and I know there are health benefits, too. But she’s still my baby and I hate causing her fear or pain, even for a good cause.