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billncandace4 posted:
how often do they go into heat? and,how old do they have to be before you can get them spayed?
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srstephanie responded:

Cats cycle on average every 14 to 21 days but it can vary widely. In general, they are affected by the amount of daylight hours, so that they have fewer heats during the winter months with shorter daylight hours, then increase in frequency as the days get longer. But, again, it can vary widely in individual cats. A cat's first heat can occur anytime between 4 and 12 months of age.

All of the above info comes from a CD on Feline Reproduction produced by the Winn Feline Foundation and done by Dr Susan Little, ABVP, a Feline specialist (and former cat breeder with expertise in feline reproduction).

I got a new kitten last fall and thought I could wait until after the holidays and get her spayed when she was 7 months old in January ... figuring that since it was winter, she would be less likely to go into heat. I was wrong and she went into heat on Christmas day. My second mistake was thinking there would be at least two weeks before she went into heat again ... but, alas, she went back into heat ten days after finishing her first heat (even in mid-winter with short days). I got her spayed quickly after her second heat.

There are various opinions, even among vets, on the age of spay. Some (especially those working with shelters) advocate "early spay and neuter". By "early" they generally mean between 3 and 6 months. Some have a minimum weight that they want (e.g. 2-3 lbs) before they will do a spay. I know many people who say that cats that are spayed at 3-4 months recover from the surgery very quickly with apparently less discomfort than older cats.

There are other vets (probably the majority) that prefer to wait until a cat is at least 6 months old to do a spay. I think it makes surgery a bit easier for the vet when they are a bit larger and they can use anesthesia protocols that they are more familiar with. With the early spays, vets need to make some alterations to their choice and use of anesthesia, etc. It is always best to do what your vet is most comfortable with.

Most experts do feel that it is very beneficial to spay a cat BEFORE her first heat. According to the page on Mammary Cancer on the Veterinary Partners website (a great place to go for veterinary info for pet owners) ... spaying before 6 months of age will reduce the risk of mammary cancer in later life by 91%. Spaying before one year of age will reduce the risk of mammary cancer by 86% ... and spaying before 2 years of age will reduce the risk by 11%. After 2 years of age, there is no reduction in risk of mammary cancer later in life.

So, depending on what your vet is comfortable with, spaying as early as possible is best.

Hope that helps. Good Luck.

Stephanie in Montreal


William Draper, DVM, better known as "Dr. Will," is a well-known small animal practitioner in the Atlanta, GA area. He grew up in Inglewood,...More

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