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Did you know that in just seven years one canine couple can produce 4,372 dogs?  Or that one kitty couple can produce 420,000 kittens in that same time period?
However, there is a significant element of paternalism in the drive for early spays and neuters in cats. The authors did not claim that the study was without limitations; they went out of their way not to make any conclusions that would apply for longer than three years. Let’s delve into this thorny subject by starting with the matter of feline overpopulation.
But will spaying your cat at two months of age — or any age — prevent cat overpopulation? I love the following statistic (which, as Mark Twain would say, fits somewhere beyond a lie and a damned lie): One pair of cats and their descendants can produce 420,000 kittens in seven years. Take these calculations out a few extra years and they would show a world whose entire surface was covered by ten feet of cats. Although spaying your cat might not have a significant impact on world feline overpopulation, it will have a dramatic impact on feline overpopulation in your house. For responsible Catster types, it’s most likely best to try to time the surgery just before the first heat in females (which could be easier said than done). I also recommend that cat owners seek a good veterinarian’s advice on the matter of spaying and neutering. And most vets (and, since 1993, the American Veterinary Medical Association) also support the concept of early spaying and neutering, at eight to 16 weeks of age. Shelters are hesitant to let intact kittens out of their facilities, lest the new owners neglect to return for spaying and neutering.
I am sure you are aware that the world has no shortage irresponsible people — people who are too lazy or stupid to take their cats to a shelter for a free or low-cost spay or neuter, people who then dump the inevitable batch of kittens at a shelter, etc.

If you take a basic biology course, you’ll realize that ecosystem carrying capacities are what ultimately dictate feline populations. I recently spoke with a professor of orthopedic surgery who believes that early spaying and neutering place cats at significantly increased risk of broken bones later in life. Many studies, such as this one, show that cats immediately and rapidly gain weight after they are altered, unless calories are dramatically restricted. Unspayed female cats suffer from breast tumors at relatively high rates, and feline breast tumors are most often malignant.
Males may experience some physical benefits from actually going through puberty before they are neutered, but, objectively, most people will not enjoy this process. Here is how you can tell whether a veterinarian is good: She will acknowledge that the matter of spaying and neutering is complicated.
And there is a growing contingent of veterinarians (especially endocrinologists and orthopedic surgeons) who question not only when cats should be altered, but whether they should be at all. Millions of sweet, loveable, adoptable cats are euthanized at shelters every year, simply because there are no homes for them. Unless every male cat in a population is neutered, there will always be a tom somewhere who will pick up the slack.
This weight gain puts cats at increased risk of a myriad of obesity-linked health problems such as diabetes, urinary problems, kidney disease, and heart disease. There are benefits to the procedures, and for most cats, those benefits markedly outweigh the risks.
An unspayed female cat will come back into heat incessantly until she mates (or until her body thinks she has mated). Unspayed female cats also make difficult pets, and they also have a remarkable knack for getting pregnant despite owners’ best efforts.

For those frustratingly common irresponsible owners, I think it’s best to stick with early altering. For most people, it’s probably best to neuter their males when they are as close as possible to being fully grown but not sexually mature. You can expect such a vet to engage in a meaningful, heartfelt conversation on the subject, even if she can’t provide a clear-cut answer.
Millions of other cats live brief, miserable lives as ferals, constantly struggling against hunger, exposure, and parasites until they meet untimely and gruesome ends due to predation, cars, disease, and starvation. Sorry, folks, but neutering your male cat will do nothing whatsoever to prevent feline overpopulation. And some vets suspect that early neutering may put males at increased risk of urinary obstruction due to impaired development of the external genitalia. I believe there is significant evidence that altering your cat will improve his or her life, and your life as well. Owners of unspayed female cats have four choices: Spay her, suffer continuous heats, breed her (accidentally or intentionally), or lure her body into psuedopregnancy. Intact males are traumatized by cars, dogs, wildlife, and other cats at extraordinary rates.

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