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  • Writer's pictureDr. Eleanor Flynn

Why we believe in early neutering

Did you know that your kitten can become pregnant from 14-16 weeks onwards, when she herself is just a kitten? Cats can have 3 or 4 litters per year, which can be as many as 20 kittens for each unneutered female per year. This means that shelters and charities are inundated with unwanted kittens in the spring and summer.

All of the major cat charities in the UK support neutering cats from 16 weeks of age, to prevent unwanted pregnancies in cats. This is known as "early neutering" because it is sooner than the traditional 6 months of age that has been the norm for many years.

At the Oxford Cat Clinic, we support early neutering too, and we routinely neuter cats from 16 weeks of age. We are part of the Cat-Kind kitten neutering database, a resource involving Cats Protection, Blue Cross and the RSPCA to help provide other vets with support when the choose to switch to early neutering. There is no physical or medical disadvantage to neutering your cat at this age, in fact the procedure is often quicker and has less complications than neutering an older cat.

What does spaying my cat involve?

Spaying, or neutering, is a routine procedure to remove the uterus and ovaries of your cat. She will need to be dropped off at the vet in the morning and go home that evening. The procedure is carried out under a general anaesthetic. When she goes home she will have some fur clipped and a small incision on her tummy. Cats bounce back straightaway and she will be her usual self just hours after the procedure.

When should I spay my cat?

At The Oxford Cat Clinic we routinely spay cats from 16 weeks of age, before she reaches puberty and before she produces a litter of kittens. This is known as early neutering. However, we will neuter any cat that is older than 6 weeks of age and weighs more than 1 kg. We see the consequences of failure to neuter every single day and it is the single most important factor contributing to the excessive number of stray and shelter cats. For these reasons we love to neuter, and will facilitate you in any way we can to help get your cat neutered, male or female, of any age.

What happens if I do not spay my cat?

If you do not spay your cat she will come into heat every couple of weeks during the spring and summer months, and sometimes during the rest of the year as well. This can be very disrupting as she will be very vocal day and night. If she is not spayed she will get pregnant if she goes outside and mates with an unneutered tom cat. A cat can have up to 6 kittens in a single litter. You can go from one cat to 20 cats in the blink of an eye.

What are the advantages of spaying my cat?

Firstly, she, and you, will not be contributing to the cat overpopulation epidemic.

Unneutered cats are also at risk of contracting the feline version of HIV, which is called FIV. This is a viral disease that is spread through mating and fighting in semen and blood. Many stray tom cats carry the virus and pass it to female cats when they mate. FIV is not contractible to humans but it does impact your cat’s immune system for the rest of her life and makes her more susceptible to illness.

Cats that are not neutered also wander further in search of mates, often crossing busy roads, making them the most at-risk group of being involved in a road traffic accident and being seriously injured or killed as a result.

Are there any disadvantages to spaying my cat?

Neutered cats have an increased tendency to gain weight. Happily, there are lower calorie foods available for neutered cats to offset this tendency and it can also be mitigated by an active lifestyle.

Research tells us that there are no physical disadvantages to neutering cats before puberty, as cat vets, given the choice; we would opt for early neutering for our own pet cats.

Neutering is just for girls, right?

Wrong! Male cats wander far in search of unneutered females; as a result they are frequently the victims of road traffic accidents. Unneutered male cats often contract FIV from fighting with other tom cats and mating with female cats. They also contract horrific injuries from fights with other tom cats. Your neutered boy will still be your boy, just one that is healthier and that prefers your company to that of female cats.

Neutering male cats is a routine procedure and requires him to stay at the vet clinic just for the day. As with female cats, we carry out this procedure routinely at 4 months of age.

What if I cannot afford to neuter my cat?

Cats Protection helps to financially support people who cannot afford to neuter their cat. If this is you call us on 01865 243000 to talk to us, we will arrange financial help to neuter your cat through Cats Protection.

What’s the bottom line?

Having a pet is a great privilege, but it is not without responsibility. There are thousands of unwanted and unloved cats and kittens in shelters and on the streets in the UK, and around the world. Shelters and charities struggle to cope, especially during the breeding season.

All cat owners are individually responsible to help to NOT contribute to this overpopulation; you can do this by neutering your cat before puberty. In addition the homes that you may have found for your cat’s kittens can then be given to kittens whose mum did not have the opportunity to be spayed.

You are also providing your cat with a better life, one without the burden of physically coping with litter after litter of kittens when she herself is still only a kitten.

If you would like more information or have concerns about early neutering you can call and talk to us on 01865 243000 (Botley) or 01865 950700 (Marston). You can also read The Cat Group's policy statement on early neutering below.

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Please, don’t let kittens have kittens.

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