Cat owners be on the lookout! Secret meetings are happening in darkened back streets. Spontaneous romantic liaisons are transpiring with no thought for the after-effects. Testosterone charged Toms will be brawling viciously while competing for the extended favours of female cats. The result is that thousands of kittens will be born during the cat breeding season around Victoria.

Sadly, far too many of these kittens are born to die, and animal shelters, like us, find it tough to cope with the huge number of irresponsibly bred kittens we receive during this time of year. The best way to avoid this burden is ensuring your curious cats are de-sexed. 

In-house vet, Suruchi Gupta, shares her knowledge.

Why is it important to have your animals de-sexed? 

De-sexing is very important for both cats and dogs, As well as, stopping unwanted pregnancies and the costs associated with raising litters, de-sexing your pet has many medical and behavioural benefits.

Scientific studies have shown that cats and dogs that are not de-sexed are much more likely to roam at night/jump fences, which puts them at greater risk of being injured by motor vehicles and other animals. Cats specifically are also more likely to get into fights with neighbouring feral cats, which then makes them at risk of contracting the incurable Feline Aids (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus). Although there is a vaccination available for Feline Aids, it is not 100% protective, and by de-sexing your pet, you reduce the risk of your cat getting into fights. 

De-sexing has also been shown to significantly reduce the risk of various reproductive cancers such as mammary and prostatic cancer. In females, it also eliminates the risk of a life-threatening condition known as “Pyometra” which is a serious infection of the uterus that requires emergency surgery to treat and can become quite costly. 

Many unwanted behaviours such as excessive vocalising, urinating inappropriately (spraying/marking territory) and some forms of aggression are also fuelled by sex hormones at a young age, before they become behavioural. De-sexing at a younger age can help reduce these unwanted behaviours. 

What age can I have my pet spayed or neutered?

Kittens unfortunately sexually mature at quite a young age, with males becoming fertile around 4-5 months of age, and females around 5-6 months. Therefore, we recommend early de-sexing of cats, earliest around 10-12 weeks of age, when they are a minimum of 1kg in weight. Kittens tolerate anaesthetic and surgery quite well and generally recover within 24-48 hours. De-sexing young has shown to be quite safe with no long-term consequences. Although dogs mature later than cats, they can also safely be de-sexed from 12 weeks of age.

Even if your pet isn’t young, there are still benefits to getting them de-sexed. Many owners are concerned regarding our older cats and dogs and coping with the anaesthetic. However, with veterinary medical advances, anaesthesia and surgery are generally much safer than before. Your vet can also tailor this anaesthetic to suit your pet, ensuring it is as safe as possible. 

Megan Seccull