A lack of information about when to neuter pet cats has been blamed for the fact that 85% are not neutered by the recommended age of four months, according to a new study from Bristol vet school.

A lack of information about when to neuter pet cats has been blamed for the fact that 85% are not neutered by the recommended age of four months, according to a new study led by academics at the University of Bristol’s School of Veterinary Sciences.

kittensIn 2006, the recommended neutering age of pet cats reduced from six to four months of age, and the study assessed the proportion of cats neutered at these ages.

Of the 751 cats involved, 14.1% and 73.5% had been neutered at, or before, four and six months of age, respectively.

According to the researchers, cats were significantly more likely to be neutered at four months if:

  • they were microchipped
  • they were from households in deprived regions
  • their owners intended to have their cat neutered by this age

Whereas the likelihood of being neutered at six months of age was significantly increased for cats that were:

  • insured
  • obtained from an animal welfare organisation
  • given their second vaccination
  • from a household with an annual income of more than £10,000
  • owned by people intending to have their cat neutered by this age

Dr Jane Murray, Cats Protection research fellow in feline epidemiology, said: “Our study found that age of neutering was associated with the age of intended neutering. Cats can reach puberty at four to five months of age therefore, it is important that owners are aware of the recommended age of neutering at four months, to reduce the number of unplanned pregnancies that occur.”

The study suggests that while neutering rates were high at six months of age, they were low at four months of age, and that further work is required to publicise the recommended neutering age of four months to cat owners.

  1. The neuter status of cats at four and six months of age is strongly associated with the owners’ intended age of neutering by C. P. Welsh, T. J. Gruffydd-Jones and J. K. Murray was published online in the Veterinary Record.
Image courtesy Milan6
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