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When Is It Too Late To Spay A Cat?

When Is It Too Late To Spay A Cat?

Pregnancy and the postpartum period represent a great burden on the cat’s body, especially if it is a younger cat that has not fully developed. This is why all veterinarians advise cat parents to spay their kittens.

Also, spaying a cat before her first heat reduces the risk of developing mammary gland tumors. 

For these reasons, it is advisable to sterilize the kitten before the first heat cycle.

So, this is the best period to consider sterilization. But, is there a time when it is too late to spay a cat? If your cat is perfectly healthy, it’s actually never too late to spay her. 

Just as long as your vet gives the green light on it, you can spay your cat at any age.

Let’s find out more about the issue.

An Optimal Age To Spay A Cat

Cute cat after spaying sitting in basket at window

Cat parents might be confused about the right age to spay their kittens.

According to petMD, the standard recommended age for sterilization of female cats is five to six months. Some owners might also like to wait until their cats reach their first heat, which can prolong the sterilization to the period when a cat is 8 to 12 months of age.

But, there is also a possibility of early spaying. The American Association of Feline Practitioners advises cat parents to spay their kittens when they are 6-14 weeks of age.

This might sound way too early at first glance, since we are speaking about sexually immature kittens here.

But, I’m sure you’re aware of the pet overpopulation problem in the United States. All cat owners that decide on early spaying are giving their contributions to the reduction of the number of stray cats, as well as the euthanasia of unwanted kittens.

Of course, you should consider all the benefits and threats of spaying your cat this early. Ultimately, your veterinarian should be the one making the final decision on the best time for this procedure.

Every doctor will first examine the kitten, her health status, and her weight, and, based on this, decide whether she’s ready for the procedure of removing her ovaries and uterus.

See Also: How Many Cats Are In The World?

What If You Have Missed The Recommended Age For Spaying Your Cat?

Veterinary surgeon checking bandage on cat stressed after spaying

If you’re having second thoughts about your cat’s spaying procedure, since she’s already an adult cat, or she perhaps even had kittens; This shouldn’t be a reason to give up on spaying.

If you think your vet will find your request odd, this will not be the case. We are here to help you and your furry friends have a long life together!

There is no specific defined age limit for cat sterilization. If your vet finds your cat’s health is perfectly fine – he will certainly announce to you that she’s good to undertake this procedure. 

Therefore, if a cat is healthy and in good physical condition, age shouldn’t be a barrier for spaying her.

Will Recovery After Spaying Be More Difficult For An Older Cat?

Spaying is a routine procedure and, in most cases, young cats recover pretty quickly from it. As Ottawa Humane Society suggests, it’s necessary to reduce a cat’s activity for 10-14 days for after surgery. 

But, the recovery might take longer for older felines. Usually, these cats will have a weaker immune system, compared to their younger counterparts.

This doesn’t mean that the surgery shouldn’t be performed; You’ll just need to keep an eye on your cat for a couple of weeks after surgery.

If you notice symptoms such as your cat not eating after spaying, her being lethargic, or if there’s any bleeding, you should contact your vet right away.

Why Should You Spay Your Cat?

A cat after a sterilization operation is lying on a medical table

If you are a new cat owner, you’ve probably already heard how you should spay your cat to calm her. What’s this about?

Well, spaying will remove your cat’s sexual urge, meaning, she will stop showing some behaviors that are probably quite annoying for you and your neighbors, such as meowing and rubbing against everything, and acting restless all the time.

But, spaying isn’t just about preventing cat’s loud vocalization and similar signs of her being in heat.

Banfield Pet Hospital’s study [1] showed how spaying eliminates the risk of pyometra, which is a life-threatening infection of the cat’s uterus. Also, when a cat is spayed before her first cycle, the chances of her developing breast cancer are far less likely.

Of course – the most obvious reason – spaying your cat will mean you don’t have to worry about unwanted pregnancies. You should be aware that kittens can get pregnant as early as four months of age; If they reach sexual maturity.

Final Words

So, when is it too late to spay a cat?

Never, actually. There isn’t a specific age limit for performing this surgery on female cats. 

Although the general recommendation is to spay a cat before her first cycle, and there are even some thoughts for early spaying (at the age of 6 to 14 weeks), older cats can and should be spayed, too.

If your vet confirms that everything is in order with your cat’s health, there is no reason not to spay her.

You just need to be aware that it might take a bit longer for an older cat to recover from the procedure. Make sure you’re taking good care of your pet, and, if you notice any signs of complications, contact your veterinarian immediately.

Don’t forget that the benefits of spaying are always the same – no matter how old a cat is.


[1] Banfield Pet Hospital: State of Pet Health 2013 Report. DOI, Retrieved May 23, 2023.

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