All animals you get from 7th Heaven will be neutered if they are old enough. If the animal you get from us is too young to be neutered, 7th Heaven will cover the cost of this when it is ready for the operation. However, we are very much opposed to early neutering.
Like a lot of theories in the animal welfare world, the concept of early canine neutering as being beneficial to the animal has been set in stone and remained unchallenged. Any questioning of this officially agreed position is considered heretical and will instantly be met by a barrage of abuse. Unfortunately, the neutering issue, as with so many animal health topics, is not as straightforward as many self-appointed animal gurus would have you believe.
Firstly, the consensus of opinion on the benefits of neutering stems not from the health concerns regarding the individual animal but from the overall concern with over-population. This, of course, is a legitimate concern, but it is based as much on inconvenience to humans, as it is with dog control. Humans are happy to neuter their dogs before they go into heat or become mature because it makes life easy. They can throw caution to the wind and let their neutered animals wander about free without any chance of unwanted pups or any of the unwanted behaviour that accompanies their female dog going into heat or their male dog reaching sexual maturity. Unless one has a female and male dog in the same house, it would be quite possible, if all dog owners were responsible, to avoid unwanted pregnancies without neutering.
In Norway up until 2010, it was illegal to neuter or spay a dog except for health reasons. Now it is permitted if mandated by the local council but it is still rare. Yet, Norway has virtually no problem with stray dogs. In Sweden only 7% of dogs are neutered and they have a very low level of strays. In the United States, however, at least 90% of dogs are spayed or neutered and they have a massive problem with unwanted dogs. So, our failings as responsible dog owners, is partly the reason why neutering has become so important.
Secondly, the supposed health benefits are not as obvious as proponents of early neutering suggest. Certainly, early neutering will prevent pyometra and testicular cancer and will help to prevent mammary cancer. It was once thought it would prevent prostrate cancer but other studies have shown no benefit in this area. On the other side, however, a number of studies have clearly shown that early neutering increases the risk of other cancers.
Over a thirteen year period, statistics from the Veterinary Medical Directorate showed that spayed females were four times more likely to develop cardiac tumours than intact females. Other studies have shown an increased risk of bone cancer in male and female dogs neutered below 12 months.
In addition to this there is now mounting evidence that neutering dogs before they reach maturity can affect bone growth. This is because oestrogen helps promote proper bone growth and the closure of the epiphyseal growth plates. As the oestrogen- producing organs are removed by neutering, the growth plates do not close properly leading to abnormally long growth of the leg bones. This in turns leads to damage of the anterior cruciate ligament in the knee due to the increased stress.
Another serious condition caused by early neutering is hip dysplasia where the hip joints do not develop normally. This can lead to lameness and arthritis. Other problems linked to early neutering are urinary incontinence in female dogs, increased risk of hypothyroidism and increases susceptibility to suffering adverse reactions to vaccinations. In addition, behavioural problems such as increased aggression in female dogs and timidity have been linked to early neutering.
The studies highlighting these problems have all been done on dogs but there could well be similar issues with cats. Certainly, the tendency for charities to neuter ferals earlier and earlier, sometimes as early as 8 weeks, has no scientific basis. It is simply to avoid the inconvenience of going back to trap them later. Considering the potential risks of anesthesia on adult animals, how much more dangerous is it when used on kittens so young?
We would advise you not to neuter your cat until it is approximately 6 months old. Obviously, if you have a female cat that goes outdoors and it goes into heat before you get it neutered, you will have to keep her inside until it is neutered or it will definitely get pregnant.
In the end, the choice of when to neuter your animal is yours. It is up to you to take responsibility for their health but to do that, you need to be aware of all the issues involved and not just one side of the debate.