We are trying to decide when to get our male kitten spayed. He is around 2 months old now (was a rescue, so not sure of exact age). There seems to be a lot of debate about whether to desex early, or later.
Living in a rural area of Canada, one of his jobs will be as a mouser, and my concern would be that early desexing (and removal of testosterone), would result in him being less muscular, and more timid, thus making him ineffective in this role.
There are almost no other cats within a long distance so issues of fighting over territory, or impregnating females is not a concern.
What are the main long-term physiological differences between a male cat desexed early vs late? Which do you recommend in this case?
Dr. Marie replied:
I usually recommend neutering a male cat at 5-6 months of age. By this age he is young enough that he has not reached maturity yet. So, you don't need to worry about him developing bad habits like spraying.
There are some humane societies that will still do early spays and neuters (i.e. at 8 weeks) in order to make sure that a cat is neutered before he gets adopted. However, I do believe that there have been studies that show that this slightly increases the risk of urinary tract blockages later on in life. (The thought is that the cat may have a smaller urethra.)
I would not recommend waiting until after 6 months (i.e. for him to develop some testosterone.) If he develops a bad habit like spraying then this could remain with him even after neutering. He really should still be a good mouser without testosterone. Mousing is more about natural instinct than hormones.
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Dr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.
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