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Cats – Why It’s Important to Spay or Neuter

By June 7, 2022No Comments

Local shelters are overrun with thousands – yes thousands – of kittens being surrendered.

Unfortunately, it is unlikely they will all be adopted.

As a cat owner, there are some facts you need to know to ensure that you are not contributing to the number of unwanted kittens in our region.
Fact #1: Female cats reach sexual maturity when they weigh approximately 4.5 – 7 lbs., or are between five and nine months of age. That said, it is possible for cats as young as four months to go into heat and become pregnant! In addition, domestic shorthair and longhair cats may reach sexual maturity earlier than purebred cats, and free-roaming cats may mature sooner than cats kept indoors.

Fact #2: Heat cycles last an average of seven days, but may be as long as 21 days. If a female cat doesn’t mate and become pregnant, she may go back into heat repeatedly with as little as two days between heats! Unspayed cats do not go through “menopause.” While fertility may decline as they age, there is no age after which a female cat can no longer become pregnant.

Fact #3: A female cat can become pregnant as young as four months of age. While breeding occurs mostly during spring months, female cats can become pregnant any time during the year, especially in mild climates. Male and female litter mates should be spayed by four months of age, if they are living together, to avoid even more litters.

Fact #4: The gestation period for a pregnant cat is 56 – 71 days, with the average being 67 days. She can have up to FIVE LITTERS in one year!

Fact #5: While the average number of kittens born in one litter is three, for free-roaming cats, the number is commonly up to six or more! Do the math! At five litters per year, your female cat can give you 30 kittens each year!

Fact #6: Your cat can be spayed while pregnant. It is preferable to spay them before their first heat.

Fact #7: Cats can become pregnant while nursing. A female will go back into heat within one to two months of giving birth, and some as soon as one week after having a litter. It is not healthier to allow your female to have one pregnancy before spaying. In fact, spaying a cat before six months significantly decreases her risk of mammary (breast) cancer.

Fact #8: A cat can be spayed while nursing. She will continue to produce adequate milk for her kittens. However, the surgery can be more difficult due to mammary glad development present during nursing. Keeping your nursing female indoors, and away from exposure to intact male cats, is preferable.

Fact #9: It is illegal to abandon an animal. California Penal Code Section 597s reads as follows: 597s. (a) Every person who willfully abandons any animal is guilty of a misdemeanor. (b) This section shall not apply to the release or rehabilitation and release of native California wildlife pursuant to statute or regulations of the California Department of Fish and Game.

It is always best to have your pet spayed or neutered by your veterinarian. Give us a call if you have questions or would like to set up an appointment (916) 687-8843.

If cost is an issue, contact your local animal shelter to learn about low-cost programs that may be available in your area.

In Sacramento County there are the following shelters:

Sacramento County Animal Care & Regulation
4290 Bradshaw Road
Sacramento, CA
(916) 875-5232

City of Sacramento Animal Care & Control
217 Front Street
Sacramento, CA 95818
(916) 264-7387

Sacramento SPCA
6201 Florin-Perkins Road
Sacramento, CA 95828
(916) 383-PETS (7387)