Early spay and neuter. Yes please.
Have you ever seen a weasel having a bad acid trip? I haven't either. But when I watch kittens coming out of anesthesia I think this is the closest I'll ever get. This week, Bacardi's cocktails got spayed and neutered. Normally, I have the whole litter done on the same day but because my vet volunteers for the same rescue that I volunteer for, their needs bumped my needs. And I'm okay with that. So my four kits got divided into two days. Two days of no breakfast, two days of driving to the vet in the morning, two days of waiting for the pick-up call and two days of sitting with totally freaked out babies coming out of anesthesia. When I fetched two of my babes today, the vet suggested that I return with a second carrier. I had delivered two sisters who normally snuggle together but was picking up two wild cats who were growling at each other. "Moooomm, she's touching me!". I told the vet staff that I always think of them as weasels having a bad trip and they all laughed. "That's exactly right.", they said. And we all agreed that it seems unkind to put adopters through this, not knowing what they're in for.
So, why do I insist on early spay and neuter? To save my adopters the stress of having to decide on "the right time", to save them the worry of "what if something goes wrong?", to save them the confusion and fear that comes from taking home ferrets on shrooms, to take the recovery period off the plates of my adopters, to save my female kittens from dying of pyometra, to control unwanted pet populations, and to uphold my promise to myself not to contribute to backyard breeders and to contribute wisely to the ragdoll breed.
Have you ever even heard the word "Pyometra"? Believe it or not, after decades in rescue, I hadn't either. Pyometra is a uterine infection that can occur when a female cat has too many unbred heat cycles. It can kill your cat. It can kill your cat really quickly. If it doesn't kill your cat, it will cost you a small fortune and it will be extremely painful for your beloved cat. It is truly serious business and something breeders constantly keep in their periphery. As a breeder, I am constantly evaluating how many heat cycles a cat has had and whether or not I should breed her or attempt a brith control implant. It can feel like Russian roulette. I would never want one of my adopters to feel this way. And I very certainly wouldn't want one of my pet kittens to have to endure something so preventable. So I spay.
I notice a lot, A LOT, of folks posting in the ragdoll and purebred cat social media forums about when to spay or neuter. They can't find a vet who will do it early, they can't find a vet with an available appointment, they're so scared of taking their baby in for surgery that they're avoiding it. So many dilemmas for something that shouldn't even be a consideration. Some vets recommend waiting until 8 months. At 8 months, many young cats are fully ready to breed. A cat in heat is kind of funny for all of about 5 minutes. Then it's like living with a rabid peacock. Same goes for the boys. And let's talk about spraying or marking. It doesn't matter the gender, a great many intact cats will leave a calling card if allowed to reach sexual maturity. In addition, they'll be looking for any opportunity to escape your home and fulfill their raison d'etre. My vet of decades is happy to alter my kittens before they go home so no one has to even think about it. I am so grateful for her.
Cats are not dogs. While there are many studies regarding the long bones and urinary tracts of developing puppies and the connection to early spay or neuter, there are ZERO such studies for cats. There is anecdotal "evidence" that male cats may suffered from a smaller urethra. I find this "evidence" interesting since the vast majority of cats in this nation come through rescues and shelters where most are altered at 8 weeks old. There just aren't that many male cats in the US that are neutered later in life, certainly not enough to perform an actual study. When you go into your vet's office with a male cat with crystals in his urethra, they aren't reporting his neuter age to any governing body. No one is tracking this information. Many vets, when pressed, will admit that they prefer a larger cat because it's easier to perform the surgery. Nothing more. Somehow the shelters are cranking out neutered 2 pound kittens without a problem, but the private practice vets insist on waiting. Again, I'm so grateful for my vet who supports early spay and neuter. With a kitten from MyLuckyDay, it's all handled for you.
Recently, I was contacted by a person who purchased a male ragdoll kitten. The kitten was five months old and he felt like it was the most beautiful cat he'd ever seen. It was a pretty cat (I've never met an ugly cat) but not a great representation of a ragdoll. He wanted to breed it "just once". His breeder sold him an unaltered cat for $3100 and now he's looking for a female to breed it with. Now, remember that I've been rescuing my whole life......needless to say, my answer was "no". Let's don't even talk about the price of that kitten that didn't even include a rather pricey procedure. I breed to meet the standard, to preserve the breed, not to make more kittens. The difference may seem subtle but it's actually quite clear.
When talking about ethics, each of us writes our own code. Mine includes sending my kittens home altered for all of the above reasons. I consider it a favor to my adopters and my duty to my kittens. The only thing my adopters have to do is love their babies. Not babysit them while they trip out.