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Pet parents take the health and safety of their cats and kittens seriously. They feed their cats healthy, well-balanced diets, provide them ample climbing space, and give them plenty of love and affection.
A part of kitten care involves making essential medical decisions like getting kittens vaccinated and giving them flea and tick preventatives. Pet parents also need to consider kitten spaying and neutering. These simple, routine procedures can prevent cat pregnancies and keep cats healthier overall.
The general recommendation is for pet parents to have their kittens spayed or neutered by five to six months old. This is supported by The American Veterinary Medical Association, American Association of Feline Practitioners, Association of Shelter Veterinarians, and the American Animal Hospital Association.
Spaying or neutering kittens goes beyond preventing pregnancy in adult cats. The procedure can also help to extend a cat’s life and reduce the risk of developing potentially serious health conditions.
Approximately one-third of all cancers in cats are mammary cancers, and nearly 85% of those cancers are potentially fatal malignant adenocarcinomas. Female cats spayed before six months have a 91% reduction in the risk of developing mammary cancer. Cats spayed before one year have an 86% reduction in risk. The procedure also eliminates a female cat’s risk of developing uterine cancer and uterine infections (pyometra).
In male cats, neutering eliminates the potential risk of testicular cancer and reduces the risk of prostate issues such as an enlarged gland and cancer. It can also have behavioral effects. Altered male cats are less likely to make escape attempts to find mates. At the same time, they’re also less likely to mark areas in a pet parent’s home or be aggressive towards other cats.
In addition, it is estimated that 3.5 million cats enter a shelter each year, and 1.4 million of those are euthanized. This very sad statistic does not even include the stray cats that haven’t been caught and live in the wild. So, when cat parents timely and effectively spay or neuter their pets it can help prevent the ethanization of millions of cats.
Although they’re routine procedures, spaying and neutering are surgeries. Immediately following surgery, a kitten may appear groggy or “out of it.” Pet parents can expect this and some sleepiness as the anesthesia wears off. Excessive lethargy or unresponsiveness can indicate an issue. In such cases, pet parents should seek professional cat advice right away.
There are a few things pet parents can do to help ensure their kittens heal properly following a spay or neuter surgery:
If a vet prescribes medication, pet parents should follow the dosing instructions closely.
Monitor the surgical site for redness, swelling, and other issues. The incision should heal within two weeks.
Pet parents should avoid bathing their kittens until the surgical site heals.
The kitten’s activity should be restricted including, running and jumping, for two weeks to avoid injuries. If necessary, they can confine the kitten to a single room or kennel with access to food, water, and a litter box with low-dust cat litter. If the kittens typically go outdoors, pet parents should keep them indoors until they heal completely. A cone may be needed to keep the kitten from licking the surgical site during recovery, which can lead to complications.
While pet parents might not like the idea of putting their kittens through surgery, or might want to search for an alternative contraceptive pill, kitten spaying and neutering is the highest recommended procedure by veterinarians. They eliminate the risk of pregnancy with the least amount of risk, and they can help reduce the odds of serious future health complications, reduce unwanted behaviors and ensure the cats live longer, happier lives with their families.