In the past, vets have recommended that kittens wait until six months of age before being desexed.
Over the last 20 years however, animal shelters in Australia and the world have been desexing of kittens aged two to three months and when they weigh over 1.1 kg.
There are several reasons for this change.
Avoiding early pregnancy
Cats can come into season as young as three to four months.
Burmese and Siamese are examples of purebred cats which may do this.
Accidental pregnancy in young cats may lead to the need for a caesarian which is risky for the cat and quite expensive.
Early age desexing in males also ensures spraying behavior does not occur.
Newer safer anaesthetics
Vets now have access to new safe new anaesthetics that have been developed over the last 20 years and experience has shown that desexing young cats is quick and easy and they recover very well.
Changing veterinary practice
Some vets outside of the animal shelter world may still be recommending six months of age for desexing, however the statistics from shelters show that early age desexing is the way of the future.
More vets are making earlier desexing available.
Breeders have been early age desexing for up to 15 years and have found it to be safe. The suggested minimum weight by breeders is the same as shelters, that is 1.1 kg.
Breeders have also found that kittens recover quickly if internal sutures are used as they are more convenient for breeders than external sutures. However, both are acceptable.
Sending kittens to new homes already desexed prevents accidental litters.
It also prevents unregistered breeders producing kittens for the pet market. Unregistered breeders often lack the knowledge or ethics to make sure breeding is done with the goal of producing healthy, genetically sound kittens.
If you would like to find out more, check out the RSPC’s 2021 report on pre-pubertal desexing