In the August, 2015 issue of Catnip, we published an article entitled, “How to Raise a Healthy Kitten.” Some readers were concerned by the following paragraph that quotes Michael Stone, DVM, clinical assistant professor at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University.
Regarding spaying or neutering, he says that these procedures are advisable for the vast majority of cats. However, he adds: “Although they may be safely performed as early as eight weeks of age, I typically recommend that they be done at five or six months of age for most cats.”
The main concern voiced by readers is that early spay/neuter is extremely important in curbing the problem of feline overpopulation. Dr. Stone clarified the information as follows:
My recommendation to perform ovariohysterectomy at five to six months of age is my own preference and not meant to be applied to all situations. For shelters, it is important to neuter pets prior to adoption: I have been told that not all owners return to have their pets neutered, even when the surgery is pre-paid! Given overpopulation issues, neutering at a young age is appropriate in shelter situations.
For individually owned cats the need for neutering at a young age is less essential. Young pets are not fully immune to disease until after completion of their vaccination series at 16 weeks of age (four months of age). I hesitate to recommend admission to the hospital (where potentially sick patients are) prior to completion of full vaccination, especially for an elective surgical procedure.
In addition, I feel more comfortable performing anesthesia on larger, more mature patients.
For patients with conscientious owners, I recommend completion of the kitten series of vaccinations prior to hospital admission for an elective surgical procedure such as ovariohysterectomy or castration.
Michael Stone DVM, Diplomate ACVIM