Early (Pediatric) Spay/Neuter
 
Definition
Groups endorsing
Videos
Online articles
Print articles
Risks and Effects - references 2004 to 2008
Practical notes


Definition

This is the surgical sterilization of kittens and puppies as early as eight weeks of age. Early spay/neuter is also referred to as: early-age spay/neuter, pediatric spay/neuter, juvenile spay/neuter, prepubertal sterilization, and prepubescent ovariohysterectomy or orchietomy.


Pediatric Spay/Neuter Endorsements

Pediatric spay/neuter is endorsed by the following national organizations:



* AHA American Animal Hospital Association
* ACA Alley Cat Allies
* AHA American Humane Association
* American Kennel Club
* ASPCA American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals - Since 1972
* AVAR Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights
* AVMA American Veterinary Medical Association - July 93 Resolution in support
* CFHS - Canadian Federation of Humane Societies
* CFA Cat Fanciers Association
* FoA Friends of Animals
* HSUS Humane Society of the United States
* ISAR International Society for Animal Rights
* MSPCA Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
* NACA National Animal Control Association
* NHES National Humane Education Society
* SOS Save Our Strays
* Spay/USA
* Many state and local veterinary associations including California Veterinary Medical Association and California Animal Control Director's Association, Oregon Veterinary Medical Association, and an increasing number of local animal shelters nationwide as well as Cornell University and UC-Davis.
* Bob Christiansen of Save Our Strays estimates only 5% of vets nationally perform early-age spay/neuters and was startled to find that many animal shelters with public spay/neuter clinics are not even practicing early age spay/neuters for the public. - USA Tour Summary, December 2000 (article no longer online.)
* The Southern Oregon Humane Society in Medford, Oregon began practicing prepubertal sterilization in 1975.

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Videos:

From the November-December 2000 Issue

Early-Age Neutering: A Practical Guide for Veterinarians
http://avar.org/publications.asp
...from the Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights and the University of California, Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine
Length: 19 minutes
If you need help convincing the veterinarians in your community of the merits of pediatric sterilization, consider this new video from the Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights (AVAR) and the University of California, Davis. Illustrating the veterinarian's role in reducing the numbers of homeless animals, the video promotes the sterilization of cats and dogs who are 6 to 16 weeks old.
Demonstrating actual surgeries on pediatric kittens and puppies, Early-Age Neutering touts the safety and ease of the procedure. Viewers learn that the recovery process is rapid, with most animals returning to normal activity within an hour of surgery. For veterinarians considering pediatric surgeries, the video recommends that during the thorough physical exam, surgeons should ensure the patients meet minimum weight requirements and are properly hydrated. Other safety measures described in the video include the provision of supplemental heat and specific anesthesia protocols.
As an added bonus, Early-Age Neutering also recommends marking the incision area with green tatoo ink to indicate the animal has been spayed or neutered; if every veterinarian followed this suggestion, shelter employees could more easily determine the sterilization status of incoming animals.
For veterinarians who are unaware of the extent of the homeless animal problem—and the many ways to address it—the video details how to help: improved data collection, public education, a heightening of the perceived value of animals, and stronger animal control laws.
Early-Age Neutering concludes by listing scientific references that can further guide veterinarians who are considering making the transition to pediatric sterilization. Videos are available from AVAR for $15, plus $5 for domestic shipping costs or $8 for international shipping. Send a check or money order to AVAR, P.O. Box 208, Davis, CA 95617-0208, and include your mailing address. AVAR will also allow interested parties to borrow a tape for up to two weeks; all you have to do is send a $20 check, $15 of which will be refunded when the video is returned.
Tapes may also be ordered through the University of California by calling 530-752-1324 or visiting the university Web site at www.calf.vetmed.ucdavis.edu.
—KP


Two Videos Promote Early-Age Sterilization:

* "Early-Age Neutering of Puppies and Kittens" from MSPCA (Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) and AHES (American Humane Education Society)

* "The Case for Early Neutering" from AHA (American Humane Association)
http://www.americanhumane.org/site/PageServer?pagename=pb_home
From HSUS Animal Sheltering Mar-Apr 1996

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Online articles and resources:


Determining the optimal age for gonadectomy of dogs and cats [see links for downloadable pdf file]
Margaret V. Root Kustritz, DVM, PhD, DACT
Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Minnesota, Saint Paul, MN 55108. (Kustritz)
Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association
December 1, 2007, Vol. 231, No. 11, Pages 1665-1675
doi: 10.2460/javma.231.11.1665
Some topics covered:
Traditional Age at Gonadectomy
Societal Benefits of Elective Gonadectomy
Benefits and Detriments of Elective Gonadectomy for Behavioral Concerns
Benefits and Detriments of Elective Gonadectomy for Various Conditions


Surgical methods of contraception and sterilization
L.M. Howe / Theriogenology 66 (2006) 500–509 504
See section 5. Early age gonadectomy and 5.1. Outcome–risks versus benefits
downloadable pdf file: http://www.x-cd.com/therio06/pdfs/1.pdf


"Evaluation of anesthetic protocols for neutering 6- to 14-week-old pups" by Alica M. Faggella, DVM, and Michael G. Aronsohn, VMD, in JAVMA, Jul 1994, Original Study


"Early Age Neutering: Perfect for Every Practice" by Dr. Marvin Mackie
http://www.ahimsatx.org/easn/easnmm.htm


Winn Feline Foundation
downloadable pdf file: Early Age Altering. Susan Little, DVM, DABVP (Feline). ©2006.


http://www.cfa.org/articles/health/early-neuter.html">A Winn Feline Foundation Report On ... EARLY SPAY/NEUTER IN THE CAT
hosted on Cat Fanciers Association:
Are fears of negative side effects of early neutering warranted? Background and medical issues including a summary of an ongoing Winn Foundation funded project to evaluate the long term effects of early altering.
Developmental and Behavioral Effects of Prepubertal Gonadectomy. Mark S. Bloomberg, DVM, MS; W.P. Stubbs, DVM; D.F. Senior, BVSc; Thomas J. Lane, BS, DVM; University of Florida at Gainesville. Funded by the Winn Feline Foundation, February 1991. Continuation funded February 1992.
A progress report on a study funded by The Winn Feline Foundation
Summary prepared by Diana Cruden, Ph.D.


Pediatric or Early Spay/Neuter
Dr. Tracy Land, Project Spay/Neuter, Inc., GA
http://www.tracylanddvm.com/PSN/html/pediatrics.html


"Prepubertal Gonadectomy in Dogs and Cats - Parts I and II" by Lisa M. Howe, DVM, PhD from Texas A&M University, Feb 1999
http://www.ivis.org/advances/Concannon/olson/chapter_frm.asp?LA=1


"Early Spay/Neuter in the Cat" by Susan Little DVM, CFA Health Committee
http://www.catvet.homestead.com/EarlyAlter.html


"Early Spay and Neuter in the Cat" by Susan Little, DVM
http://www.cfa.org/articles/health/early-spay-neuter.html
hosted on Cat Fanciers Association


"Early Age Sterilization: The New Standard for Performing Castrations and Spays in Shelters, Private Practices, and Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospitals"
downloadable pdf file from Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights (AVAR):
http://avar.org/pdf/publication/brochure/EarlyAge%20Sterlization3.pdf


"Early Age Spay/Neuter - A Tool Against Unnecessary Euthanasia"
A factsheet published by the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies
by Clayton MacKay, DVM, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph
http://cfhs.ca/athome/early_age_spay_neuter/


"The Truth about Juvenile Spay/Neuter"
By Richard Allen, DVM, Best Friends Sanctuary, Utah veterinarian
downloadable pdf file:
http://www.bestfriends.org/nomorehomelesspets/pdf/juvenilespayneuter.pdf


Early Age Spay/Neuter Before Adoption – Sterilization from 7 to 16 weeks of age.
Downloadable pdf file from Alley Cat Allies (ACA)
http://www.alleycat.org/pdf/early.pdf


"Early Neuter Saves Lives" by Katy White, DVM, Veterinarian/Shelter Manager, Longmont Humane Society
www.longmonthumane.org
Click on Publications, Spring/Summer 2001 Newsletter


Best Friends/No More Homeless Pets (NMHP)Weekly Forums:
http://www.bestfriends.org/nomorehomelesspets/weeklyforum/

August 2 – 6, 2004
The Future of Spay/Neuter
Dr. Julie Levy of the University of Florida and Dr. Brenda Griffin of Auburn University are answering your questions about the future of non-surgical contraception for animals, high-volume spay/neuter, juvenile spay/neuter, and more. Everything you want to know about spay/neuter and the future strategies for ending pet overpopulation.
http://bestfriends.org/archives/forums/080204futuresn.html

February 16– 20, 2004
Getting Veterinarians Involved
Dr. Leslie Appel of Shelter Outreach Services will answer your questions about communicating with veterinarians. How can you talk to your vet about doing juvenile spay/neuter? Or feral cats? How can you create more harmonious relations between your group and the vets in your community?
Subject: Convincing vets that pediatric spay/neuter is safe
http://www.bestfriends.org/archives/forums/021604vets.html#one

February 24 - 28, 2003
Dr. Dave Sweeney, veterinarian and chief of staff at No More Homeless Pets in Utah’s Big Fix mobile van, talks about early age spay/neuter.
http://www.bestfriends.org/archives/forums/pediatric.html

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The following articles are print copies which could be reproduced, obtained from the authors or publishers, or possibly found online:


"Early Age Gonadectomy Practitioner Participation Needed" by John A. Hamil, DVM in
Southern California Veterinary Medical Association, PULSE, Jul 1995.


"Spaying/Neutering comes of age" - AVMA News in JAVMA, Sep 1993


"Early-age neutering of dogs and cats" by Peter Theran, VMD, from JAVMA, Mar 1993, Animal Welfare Forum


"Early neuters could safely cure overpopulation, study says" by Robin L. Daugherty, Associate Editor, from DVM, Mar 1993


"It's Time for Early Age Neutering" by W. Marvin Mackie, DVM from Veterinary News,
about 1992


"A case for neutering pups and kittens at two months of age" by Leo L. Lieberman, DVM from JAVMA, Sep 1987


Early-Age Spay/Neuter: "A Growing Consensus by Mary Eno and Sally Fekety," Nov 1993
"Early-Age Spay/Neuter Medical Issues"
Humane Society of the United States (HSUS)
previously onlne, from Animal Shelter Magazine

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Risks and Effects of Early (Pediatric) Spay/Neuter:
References 2004 to 2008

As always, read entire articles or studies, do your own research, note the study type, length and purpose, who did the study and their goals in supporting a particular position. Recognize when gonadectomy and neutering are used to refer to both spay and/or neuter; and when distinctions are made between effects of surgical spay/neuter and EARLY (pediatric) surgical spay/neuter. Also note timing of early spay/neuter which is defined as 6 or 8 to 14 weeks, whereas early spay neuter is often thought of as anything earlier than 4 to 6 months OR earlier than the sexual maturity of an animal, which some experts indicate is much later than 6 months. Sexual maturity varies depending on animal species and sex.


see also the listing under Online Articles above for Determining the optimal age for gonadectomy of dogs and cats
Margaret V. Root Kustritz, DVM, PhD, DACT
December 2007


Surgical methods of contraception and sterilization
L.M. Howe / Theriogenology 66 (2006) 500–509 504
See section 5. Early age gonadectomy and 5.1. Outcome–risks versus benefits
downloadable pdf file: http://www.x-cd.com/therio06/pdfs/1.pdf


J Vet Intern Med 2005;19:560–563
Association between Ovarihysterectomy and Feline Mammary Carcinoma
Beth Overley, Frances S. Shofer, Michael H. Goldschmidt, Dave Sherer, and Karin U. Sorenmo
ABSTRACT
The etiopathogenesis of feline mammary carcinoma is not well understood. Although putative, risk factors include breed, reproductive status, and regular exposure to progestins. An association between age at ovarihysterectomy (OHE) and mammary carcinoma development has not been established. Therefore, a case-control study was performed to determine the effects of OHE age, breed, progestin exposure, and parity on feline mammary carcinoma development. Cases were female cats diagnosed with mammary carcinoma by histological examination of mammary tissue. Controls were female cats not diagnosed with mammary tumors selected from the same biopsy service population. Controls were frequency matched to cases by age and year of diagnosis. Questionnaires were sent to veterinarians for 308 cases and 400 controls. The overall questionnaire response rate was 58%. Intact cats were significantly overrepresented (odds ratio [OR] 2.7, confidence interval [CI] = 1.4–5.3, P < .001) in the mammary carcinoma population. Cats spayed prior to 6 months of age had a 91% reduction in the risk of mammary carcinoma development compared with intact cats (OR 0.9, CI = 0.03–0.24). Those spayed prior to 1 year had an 86% reduction in risk (OR 0.14, CI = 0.06–0.34). Parity did not affect feline mammary carcinoma development, and too few cats had progestin exposure to determine association with mammary carcinoma. Results indicate that cats spayed before 1 year of age are at significantly decreased risk of feline mammary carcinoma development.
Key words: Cancer, Cat, Neoplasia, Spay Submitted: July 19, 2004; Revised: October 15, 2004; Accepted: February 15, 2004


J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2004 Feb 1;224(3):380-7.
Comment in:
J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2004 Apr 1;224(7):1070; author reply 1070-1.
Long-term risks and benefits of early-age gonadectomy in dogs.
Spain CV, Scarlett JM, Houpt KA.
Department of Population Medicine and Diagnostic Science, College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA.
OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the long-term risks and benefits of early-age gonadectomy, compared with traditional-age gonadectomy, among dogs adopted from a large animal shelter. DESIGN: Retrospective cohort study.
ANIMALS: 1,842 dogs.
PROCEDURE: Dogs underwent gonadectomy and were adopted from an animal shelter before 1 year of age; follow-up was available for as long as 11 years after surgery. Adopters completed a questionnaire about their dogs' behavior and medical history. When possible, the dogs' veterinary records were reviewed. Associations between the occurrence of 56 medical and behavioral conditions and dogs' age at gonadectomy were evaluated.
RESULTS: Among female dogs, early-age gonadectomy was associated with increased rate of cystitis and decreasing age at gonadectomy was associated with increased rate of urinary incontinence. Among male and female dogs with early-age gonadectomy, hip dysplasia, noise phobias, and sexual behaviors were increased, whereas obesity, separation anxiety, escaping behaviors, inappropriate elimination when frightened, and relinquishment for any reason were decreased.
CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE: Because early-age gonadectomy appears to offer more benefits than risks for male dogs, animal shelters can safely gonadectomize male dogs at a young age and veterinary practitioners should consider recommending routine gonadectomy for client-owned male dogs before the traditional age of 6 to 8 months. For female dogs, however, increased urinary incontinence suggests that delaying gonadectomy until at least 3 months of age may be beneficial.
PMID: 14765797 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]


J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2004 Feb 1;224(3):372-9.
Long-term risks and benefits of early-age gonadectomy in cats.
Spain CV, Scarlett JM, Houpt KA.
Department of Population Medicine and Diagnostic Science, College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA.
ABSTRACT
OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the long-term risks and benefits of early-age gonadectomy, compared with traditional-age gonadectomy, among cats adopted from a large animal shelter.
DESIGN: Retrospective cohort study.
ANIMALS: 1,660 cats.
PROCEDURE: Cats underwent gonadectomy and were adopted from an animal shelter before 1 year of age; follow-up was available for as long as 11 years after surgery (median follow-up time, 3.9 years). Adopters completed a questionnaire about their cats' behavior and medical history. When possible, the cats' veterinary records were reviewed. Statistical analyses were conducted to identify any associations between the occurrence of 47 medical and behavioral conditions and the cats' age at gonadectomy.
RESULTS: Among male cats that underwent early-age gonadectomy (< 5.5 months of age), the occurrence of abscesses, aggression toward veterinarians, sexual behaviors, and urine spraying was decreased, whereas hiding was increased, compared with cats that underwent gonadectomy at an older age. Among male and female cats that underwent early-age gonadectomy, asthma, gingivitis, and hyperactivity were decreased, whereas shyness was increased.
CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE: Gonadectomy before 5.5 months of age was not associated with increased rates of death or relinquishment or occurrence of any serious medical or behavioral condition and may provide certain important long-term benefits, especially for male cats. Animal shelters can safely gonadectomize cats at a young age, and veterinarians should consider recommending routine gonadectomy for client-owned cats before the traditional age of 6 to 8 months.
PMID: 14765796 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]


Early Sterilization in Dogs and Cats
[Excerpts]
Effects of Early Gonadectomy on Subsequent Development
Another source of resistance to early spay-neuter programs is concern that prepubertal removal of the gonads will result in obesity, urinary incontinence, stunted growth, behavioral abnormalities and other such problems. Some of these conditions are associated with gonadectomy, but there is little evidence to support the contention that risk is elevated by early gonadectomy per se.
Summary
Careful followup of dogs and cats that underwent early gonadectomy indicate a few potentially adverse effects (e.g. elevated risk of incontinence in female dogs spayed prior to 3 months). However, the vast majority of traits characterizing a good pet are not significantly altered relative to what is seen in animals neutered later in life. Although some long-term effects remain to be studied definitively, all evidence suggests that early spay-neuter of dogs and cats is a safe procedure with minimal or any adverse effects on subsequent health of the animal.
Given the obvious benefits with regard to pet population control, gonadectomy of weanling puppies and kittens appears to be an idea whose time has come.

[this article above was completed sometime during/after 2004, as references for 2004 studies were included)
http://www.vivo.colostate.edu/hbooks/pathphys/reprod/petpop/early.html


PetSmart Charities Webinars: Recording and Slides
Pediatric Spay/Neuter: Is it Needed? Is it Safe? - Dr. Brenda Griffin, Auburn University, College of Veterinary Med
Original webcast: Wednesday, June 22, 2005
How can you boost your spay/neuter compliance to 100%? By neutering all cats and dogs before adoption of course, regardless of age. We will discuss the benefits of and procedures for spaying and neutering puppies and kittens 6-16 weeks of age. This presentation will also cover the science that clearly demonstrates that early age spay/neuter is a medically sound procedure.


The following references are from the 2006 ACCD symposium. The purpose here was to understand what the “gold standard” of SURGICAL spay/neuter is so that NON-SURGICAL spay neuter can be compared to that.

The Alliance for Contraception in Cats and Dogs (ACCD)
Proceedings of the Third International Symposium on Non-Surgical Contraceptive Methods for Pet Population Control • www.acc-d.org
November 2006
http://acc-d.org/2006%20Proceedings

[scroll down to]
SESSION I Non-Reproductive Effects of Spaying and Neutering (download entire session, or individual presentations)
Session Overview – Dr. John Verstegen
Effects on Behavior – Dr. Deborah Duffy
Effects on the Urogenital System – Dr. Karine Verstegen-Onclin
Incontinence: Frequency, Causes and Therapy – Dr. Iris Reichler
Effects on Growth, Hip Dysplasia, Immunology and Tumors – Dr. Vic Spain

SESSION OVERVIEW
Dr. John Verstegen

[Excerpt]
The ideal contraceptive approach (as stated by Brown and Moskovitz years ago, and taken from Berelson in 1964) should be long-acting or irreversible, highly effective, and safe; it should produce few or no side effects; it should require limited or no need for significant action to be applied; and it should necessitate no continuing supplies and be low cost.
The objectives of the first session were to look closely at surgical sterilization in this context. Does spay/neuter meet these requirements noted above? It is important to understand the “gold standard” in order to have a benchmark against which non-surgical approaches can be compared.

Dr. Duffy presented results from a large epidemiological study that called into question generally held beliefs about the effects of spaying on dogs’ behavior. The results of that study suggested that spayed female dogs of some breeds tend to be more aggressive toward humans than intact females. The effects of castration on behavior, particularly aggressive behavior, were clearly questioned, indicating a need for further studies.

Dr. Verstegen-Onclin presented preliminary data concerning the possible relation between early spaying and abnormal external genital development leading to chronic vestibule-vaginal infection and UTI. Since early-age spaying is a relatively recent approach to population control in carnivores, long-term data are unavailable and recent data are now slowly accumulating, allowing detection of side effects not observed or not taken into consideration in the previously published studies. Even if preliminary, these observations present new questions and deserve further investigation.

Dr. Reichler summarized the results accumulated over 10 years in her laboratory showing the relation between spaying and urinary incontinence, a common side effect with poorly understood pathogeny in the spayed dog. Directly or indirectly, through GnRH and the gonadotrophins, acting at the periphery or centrally, the reproductive axis seems to be involved in the regulation of continence.

Dr. Spain, who has been recently involved in many studies assessing the long-term risks and benefits of early-age neutering, presented convincing data about the effects of spay/neuter on hip dysplasia, cranial cruciate ligament rupture, long bone development, body weight, diabetes, urinary tract infections, mammary cancer, and several other conditions. Like the preliminary study of Dr Verstegen-Onclin, Dr. Spain advises delaying sterilization of females until after four months of age.

[Excerpt]
The main interest of this session was to take an objective and careful look at the nonreproductive effects of spay/neuter. Looking for alternatives, we have been too often caught up by insisting on an ideal drug or technique that would be without side effects, bias or pitfalls. In reality, there is not likely to be one “magic treatment” that can instantly, inexpensively and permanently sterilize a male or female cat or dog with no risk of undesired effects.
At this stage, spay/neuter still remains the only acceptable standard to control population in dogs and cats, but this “gold standard” is probably not as efficacious, safe or devoid of side effects as generally considered. The presence of unwanted side effects or problems related to surgical spay/neuter allows us to compare the value of this reference and to consider the development of new alternatives with more realism.


Early Spay-Neuter Considerations for the Canine Athlete
One Veterinarian's Opinion
© 2005 Chris Zink DVM, PhD, DACVP
[Excerpts, as always read entire article]
This article provides evidence through a number of recent studies to suggest that veterinarians and owners working with canine athletes should revisit the standard protocol in which all dogs that are not intended for breeding are spayed and neutered at or before 6 months of age.

Orthopedic Considerations
Cancer Considerations
Behavioral Considerations
Other Health Considerations

I have gathered these studies to show that our practice of routinely spaying or neutering every dog at or before the age of 6 months is not a black-and-white issue. Clearly more studies need to be done to evaluate the effects of prepubertal spaying and neutering, particularly in canine athletes.

I believe it is important that we assess each situation individually. For canine athletes, I currently recommend that dogs and bitches be spayed or neutered after 14 months of age.

http://www.caninesports.com/SpayNeuter.html


Rebuttal to "Early Spay-Neuter Considerations for the Canine Athlete"
Lisa M. Howe, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVS
[excerpt, as always read entire article]
I have written a rebuttal to Dr. Zink’s article entitled "Early Spay-Neuter Considerations for the Canine Athlete" in which Dr. Zink attempts to make an argument for revisiting the “standard protocol in which all dogs that are not intended for breeding are spayed and neutered at or before 6 months of age.” In his discussion, Dr. Zink quotes manuscripts incorrectly in some instances, doesn’t present all of the data from given studies (ie, misrepresenting the findings of the studies) in other instances, and doesn’t include the interpretation of the data by the study’s authors (leading to erroneous interpretations of some data by Dr. Zink) in yet other instances. While I typically don’t write rebuttals to others’ writings, or opinions (after all, we are all entitled to our opinions), the multiple errors and misrepresentations of the scientific literature quoted in this dissertation compelled me to “set the record straight” with regard to the literature being incorrectly cited by Dr. Zink. While I respectfully disagree with Dr. Zink’s opinion on the appropriate age at which to spay and castrate dogs not intended for breeding, my primary purpose for this rebuttal is to present the literature that Dr. Zink cites in a more accurate, and more complete, fashion so that the veterinarian reader may reach their own conclusions regarding the most appropriate time to spay or castrate the nonbreeding animal, based upon accurate representation of the scientific literature.
downloadable doc: http://www.sheltermedicine.com/documents/Zink%20rebuttal.doc


Practical Notes:

published with permission of Susan Greene,
Wildrun and
American Cat Project
originally posted on the
feral_cats forum, October 2004

RE: early s/n [early spay/neuter]

Just a note, however. The kittens must be healthy and robust.
Sometimes shelter kittens, or kittens that go through mass clinics,
get s/n because "they are over 2 lbs" but they also have minor URI
signs, or are exposed to a URI cat at the clinic, or are petrified
and don't eat or drink for a day before and a day after, which
dehydrates them, etc.

I have known of quite a few situations were kittens received early
s/n and they died because their adopters or caregivers did not know
to watch them carefully.

So, I would add this: early age spay/neuter is safe, however,
caregivers should immediately attend to any sneezes, coughs,
lethargy, or lack of appetite. It is especially important to STRESS
this to foster parents who may not be experienced with sick kittens.
There is no room for "waiting a few days" with a kitten if it shows
signs of illness or dehydration, post surgery.

I have seen some pretty shabby kittens s/n in clinics. I've also
seen kittens under 2lbs s/n. I find this pretty disturbing. I think
some of it stems from vets saying "Hey, we haven't had any problems
so far." But since they often aren't the vet who sees the kitten if
it falls ill, or the kitten doesn't see any vet at all (kitten dies,
but caretakers merely stews and complains to others and never
notifies the shelter or the vet) I do not believe the feedback
system is very good.

I will not take kittens to clinics unless they are over 3 lbs and
are healthy, and have been vaccinated with a modified live vaccine
for at least four days. This is just because if a kitten gets sick
and my place gets the sneezes, my life becomes a horrible, horrible
mess.

Susan Greene
NYS

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