I loved reading your reply about spaying and neutering in dogs. I was wondering if you could talk about the pros and cons for cats.
The age of desexing cats is not discussed as much because there is far less controversy compared to dogs. Cats are already very long lived and are prone to less variety of cancers compared to dog breeds.
The benefits of desexing female cats are:
- Population control
- Uterine infection prevention
- Mammary cancer prevention
- Prevents undesirable or distressing oestrus behaviour (eg screaming like they have a broken back)
- Less attractive to tom cats (as in, neighborhood toms wont come to your house and piss on everything. Your cat will still be as lovely as she always was.)
The risks of desexing female cats are:
- Weight gain.
- Conditions associated with weight gain.
The benefits of desexing male cats are:
- Less desire to roam (and be hit by car)
- Less offensive smell
- Less urine marking
- Less likely to fight (and get associated FIV infection)
The risks of desexing male cats are:
- Weight gain
- Conditions associated with weight gain, including urinary blockage.
It used to be thought that desexing male cats to early would result in an underdeveloped penis and higher risk of urethral blockage. This hasn’t proved to be the case, and we have large numbers of cats in long term studies that have been desexed at the youngest possible age (1kg bodyweight, usually under 12 weeks) and the risk of urethral blockage correlated with weight gain and inactivity, not age of desexing. The same is true of UTIs and FLUTD in female cats.
Accidental pregnancy is a major concern in managing cat populations, even now. There are so many people who still simply don’t do it. It’s maddening.
So desex your cats. We still need a strong message going out to the public for population control, because there are always more kittens than there are homes every year.
Cats do not have the same risk factors in juvenile desexing that dogs might (size and breed dependent) so desexing at 6 months (or earlier, some go through puberty at 4 but from 8 weeks still seems to be no greater risk) is fine. Younger animals also tend to have shorter surgery time, and seem to recover quicker.