Neutering cats early isn’t without controversy, and most vets suggest waiting until the cat is six months old, or even older. But a group of national veterinary associations thinks cats should be neutered/spayed earlier to prevent future health and behavior issues, including aggression. The group began its Feline Fix By Five Months campaign in 2016, and now state veterinary associations are finally getting on board.
How old should cats be when they’re neutered? According to the Feline Fix By Five Months campaign, most people don’t know. Following their vets’ advice, they wait until the cat is six-nine months old, or even longer. But neutering cats should be done by five months, the campaign says, to reduce the chances of future health and behavior issues, including aggression.
Living with an aggressive cat can be both scary and dangerous, even if the cat is still a kitten. But sadly, many kittens wind up in shelters because their humans think they’re being aggressive when really, they’re just being kittens.
Sharing Your Home With An Aggressive Cat Or Kitten
Single kittens bite and scratch and leap out of hiding places to wrap themselves around their human’s ankles, not because they’re aggressive but because they’re learning how to be cats. Without another kitten to practice with, your kitten will use you to perfect his hunting skills.
But aggressive adults aren’t practicing anything on you but fear or frustration. Here are some suggestions for living with an aggressive cat.
- Get your cat neutered. Once those male hormones stop coursing through his body, he’ll be a much nicer guy.
- Try to get him outside, even if you take him out on a harness and leash. Nothing beats the stress that causes aggression more than some outdoor time.
- Learn to read his body language. He’ll let you know when he wants you to just stay away.
- Keep toys or treats handy to distract him if he threatens to attack. Tossing some across his line of vision should keep him busy while you get out of his way.
- Never corner or chase a cat who’s in a fighting mood. That will just make him more aggressive.
- It’s not just male cats who can be aggressive. Female cats can be very territorial and become aggressive with people they don’t know or when they’re frightened.
- Read more about aggressive cats.
Myths About Neutering Cats
So you’re thinking there might be good arguments against neutering cats. The surgery’s too expensive. Spayed females get fat and lazy. Spaying/neutering’s not “natural.” Those are just a few of the myths about neutering cats. Here’s the truth about those and a few more.
♦ MYTH: Spay/neuter surgery’s too expensive.
Fact: A few hundred dollars is a small price to pay to prevent the birth of unwanted kittens and protect your cat’s health. But if you can’t afford it, there are low-cost or free spay/neuter programs almost anywhere in the US.
♦ My female cat will get fat and lazy.
Fact: It’s not spaying/neuter that makes cats overweight and lazy. Blame an all- or mostly-dry-food diet and living strictly indoors with little stimulation and exercise.
♦ Spaying and neutering aren’t natural.
Fact: Eating dry food or food from a can isn’t natural. Neither are living strictly indoors or vaccinations. All of us intervene in our cats’ natural way of life in different ways. But spaying and neutering might be the most important because, among other things, it prevents the birth of unwanted kittens.
♦ Neutering will change my cat’s personality.
Fact: Your guy will still be a guy after he’s neutered because neutering doesn’t completely eliminate the testosterone hormone. But neutered male cats tend to be calmer and more affectionate. And, of course, without all those male hormones coursing through his body, he’ll no longer feel the need to roam and fight. Some experts say a male cat will wander one-two miles from home in search of a mate.
An unspayed female cat can go into heat for four or five days every three weeks during mating season. Living with a cat in heat is not pleasant. She’ll yowl to call for a partner. And she’ll urinate all over everywhere to let the young men in the neighborhood know she’s there.
Why Spay/Neuter Is So Important
Most of us spay/neuter our cats to prevent the birth of unwanted kittens. There’s a reason for this. Some sobering statistics:
♦ Kittens can have kittens. Cats can get pregnant when they’re just four months old. And a female cat can have three litters a year, with an average of four-six kittens in each litter.
♦ About 3.4 million cats are turned in to animal shelters each year. About 1.4 million won’t come out alive.
But there are other reasons for early spay/neuter, too.
♦ Female cats who are spayed before their first heat cycle are less likely to develop mammary gland cancer, which is almost always fatal. They also won’t develop uterine infections like pyometra, which can also be fatal.
♦ Male cats who are neutered early are protected from testicular cancer.
Feline Fix By Five Months
It was 2016 when Marian’s Dream and Joan Miller, Chair of the Cat Fanciers’ Education and Outreach Committee, called together a group of prominent veterinarians at the North American Veterinary Conference’s annual meeting. They had an idea to discuss.
Since there was no consistent messaging about when to spay/neuter cats, wouldn’t it be a good idea to make a recommendation to veterinarians? That could save the lives of thousands of unexpected kittens, eliminate health risks in unsterilized male and female cats and prevent roaming and fighting in unaltered males.
They decided to suggest scheduling spay/neuter at the end of the kitten vaccination series, usually, between four-five months of age. That was the beginning of the Feline Fix By Five Months campaign.
Within 18 months, the American Animal Hospital Association, the American Association of Feline Practitioners, the American Veterinary Medical Association as well as The Association of Shelter Veterinarians, The Catalyst Council, the Cat Fanciers’ Association, the Winn Feline Foundation and the International Cat Association were all on board.
Now the campaign is ready to go public. So far, the veterinary medical associations in Maine, Arkansas, Kentucky and Mississippi have endorsed it.