Pet owners don’t know the appropriate age to have dogs/cats spayed or neutered
This chart is taken from page 27 of the IPSOS marketing study, commissioned in 2009 and 2011 by Petsmart Charities, titled: There is confusion among owners as to the appropriate age to have dogs/cats spayed or neutered, with 17% indicating “Do Not Know.”
Nearly as alarming are the 42% who indicate 6 months (by which time cats can have already had a litter and be ready for the next), and worse yet an additional 14% who say 9 months or older.
This chart clearly indicates that three fourths of these adults (a sample of 3,000) either do not know, or think that 6 months or later is fine.
So many health benefits!
Scientific evidence has demonstrated the many benefits of spaying kittens before their first heat, including a decreased risk for mammary carcinoma, the elimination of reproductive emergencies such as pyometra, avoidance of unintended pregnancies (as early as 4 months), and a potential decrease in behavioral problems. Spaying kittens today means healthier cats tomorrow. Read more about the benefits of spay/neuter and sterilization before five months in our Learning Library.
Finally, a clear message for all veterinarians.
On January 15, 2016 a group of prominent veterinarians met at the North American Veterinary Conference in Orlando, Florida and created a consensus document about best practices about best practice regarding spaying cats.
Given the known benefits of sterilization and the lack of evidence for harm related to age at which the procedure is performed, the Veterinary Taskforce on Feline Sterilization calls for veterinary practitioners and professional associations to recommend sterilization of cats by five months of age. This provides veterinary practitioners with a consistent message that may increase veterinary visits and spay/neuter compliance while reducing the risk of pet relinquishment and unwanted offspring.
While the professionals around the table were not acting officially on behalf of the organizations with which they worked—the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP), the Winn Feline Foundation (now known as the EveryCat Health Foundation), the Catalyst Council, the Association of Shelter Vets (ASV), the International Cat Association, and the Cat Fanciers’ Association—they were focused on creating a consensus document as a step towards a best practice initiative.
By July 5, 2017 each of the organizations’ boards had publicly endorsed the practice. For the first time, veterinarians have a clear message to send to their clients: fix your felines by five months!