One of the sad realities of animal welfare is that each year more kittens are born than there are good homes to care for them. As such, most modern societies practice prevention to help ensure the population of unwanted and feral cats stays at a minimum.
The most common preventative practice is desexing, but many cat owners don't fully understand the benefits of this practice or they will often neglect to take responsibility of desexing their pet if their pet is a male cat.
Sometimes pet owners will adopt a cat that is older and feel that desexing it later in life might be harmful or unnecessary.
Some pet owners who have an elder cat may feel that it's too late to have them dexed. Image credit anyone71/sxc.hu
During a desexing operation, your cat is anaesthetised and their reproductive organs are removed. These operations are regularly conducted by veterinarians and the associated risks are very low.
Additionally, there are many benefits for both female and male cats in having the procedure done.
In females, desexed cats can reproduce as many as three or four times a year. Not only does motherhood place high demands on a female cat, it can also reduce her life expectancy. Moreover, intact females have a tendency to spray urine around your home and garden to advertise herself to potential mates. While these are somewhat minor costs to not desexing your female cat, most cat owners are surprised to learn that desexing females also reduces their risk of cancers of the reproductive organs.
With respect to males, intact males will wander great distances in search of a female partner. These male cats are at higher risk of injury and death due to accident or aggression from other cats and animals. Additionally, tomcats may mark their territory with urine as well, which means your home may be infiltrated with a strong and unpleasant smell.
Desexing your cat at any age helps assist the overpopulation of unwanted pets. Image credit:Edgar Olivera/sxc.hu
Typically speaking, female and male cats should be neutered by around 6 months old. However, as surgical techniques and safer anaesthetics have become available, many veterinarians will neuter cats as early as 8 weeks of age. Earlier neutering procedures reduce the risk that a female cat becomes pregnant before the surgery.
So the question as to whether it is too late to desex your cat remains. Is there a time period that the surgery can be completed in order for it to be safe and effective? In fact, there is no upper age limit. Even if you adopt an adult cat from an animal shelter, s/he can still be neutered safely and effectively. Many shelters will require desexing to be done before the pet is re-homed.
Both male and female cats can be neutered at any age and this often will reduce or eliminate problem behaviours such as spraying or fighting.
Unfortunately, waiting until later in life to desex a male cat may mean that the cat maintains undesirable behaviours even after castration. Therefore it is always advisable to neuter your cat by 6 months at the latest. But for the sake of overpopulation, it's never too late.