Feline Sterilization at 5 months accepted as new normal


Studies show that conventional wisdom has evolved with research.

flywish / stock.adobe.com

flywish / stock.adobe.com

For decades, veterinarians have recommended the spay and neuter of cats at the age of 6 months or older, but the literature does not document any scientific evidence justifying waiting until this point, after which cats are sexually mature. In 2016, a veterinary task force was established to reconsider the recommended age for spay and neuter of cats. This task force recommended that the age for spay and neuter be reduced to 5 months of age or lower.1 The consensus document from the task force stated, “Current scientific evidence documents the benefits of spaying kittens before the first estrous cycle, including the following:

  • Decreased risk for mammary carcinoma (the third most common cancer in cats)
  • Elimination of reproductive emergencies such as pyometra and dystocia
  • Avoidance of unintended pregnancies that may occur as early as 4 months of age
  • Potential decrease in behavioral problems linked with cat relinquishment.2

The task force also recommended castration of male cats prior to 5 months of age.2 Castration prior to sexual maturity reduces sexual behaviors often cited as reasons for relinquishment to shelters: roaming, fighting, and spraying to mark territory. The traditional belief that castration prior to sexual maturity may lead predispose to urinary obstruction in male cats has been disproven.3,4

After the report from the task force, the Feline Fix by Five campaign was established in order to raise awareness among veterinarians and the public on the new recommended age for feline sterilization. To date, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), Association of Shelter Veterinarians (ASV), American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP), 14 state veterinary associations, and numerous humane organizations have endorsed the concept of spay or neuter of cats by 5 months of age.5

In early 2021 a national veterinary survey was conducted to determine if veterinarians were lowering the recommended age for sterilization of cats. The survey revealed that 61% of veterinarians were recommending ovariohysterectomy of female cats on or before 5 months of age, and 51% were recommending castration of male cats on or before 5 months of age.6

Figure 1. Results from National Veterinary Survey on Recommended Age of Spay Neuter of Cats

Figure 1. Results from National Veterinary Survey on Recommended Age of Spay Neuter of Cats


  1. Veterinary Task Force on Feline Sterilization. Veterinary Task Force on Feline Sterilization Recommendations for Age of Spay and Neuter Surgery. 2016. Accessed January 10, 2022. https://www.felinefixbyfive.org/the-facts
  2. Veterinary Task Force on Feline Sterilization Consensus Document. 2016. Accessed January 10, 2022. https://www.felinefixbyfive.org/endorsement-statement
  3. Segev G, Livne H, Ranen E, Lavy E. Urethral obstruction in cats: predisposing factors, clinical, clinicopathological characteristics and prognosis. J Feline Med Surg. 2011;13(2):101-108. doi:10.1016/j.jfms.2010.10.006
  4. Buffington CA, Westropp JL, Chew DJ, Bolus RR. Risk factors associated with clinical signs of lower urinary tract disease in indoor-housed cats. J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2006;228(5):722-725. doi:10.2460/javma.228.5.722
  5. Endorsements. Feline Fix by Five. Accessed June 7, 2019. https://www.felinefixbyfive.org/endorsements
  6. Feline Fix by Five. Veterinary Survey; Age of Spay Neuter of Cats. 2021. Accessed January 10, 2022. https://static1.squarespace.com/static/59eb7f7fe9bfdf9e27e926f9/t/611ae854cd0917436df7b942/1629153364921/NewNormal-FelineFixByFive.pdf
Related Videos
© 2024 MJH Life Sciences

All rights reserved.