Survey Uncovers Reasons for Non-Adoption of Current Feline Spay/Neuter Recommendations

The American Veterinary Medical Association and other professional and humane organizations have endorsed a consensus document calling for the sterilization of cats by five months of age when not intended for breeding. Not all veterinarians are aware of or have implemented this new approach and in a recent survey sponsored by the Feline Fix by Five Months awareness campaign, some of the reasons for non-adoption of the current recommended protocol were uncovered. Specifically, among veterinarians who spay and neuter cats at six months or older, the majority expressed concern about perceived future health risks as the main reason for their minimum age recommendation.
“When those who wait until six months or older were asked why, the majority believed that performing the surgery before six months of age puts cats at risk for urinary tract disease, blockages, and bone and joint disorders. None of these concerns are supported by veterinary research,” said Dr. Philip Bushby, DVM, MS, DACVS, veterinary medical advisor to the Fix by Five Months campaign. “The insights gleaned from this survey reveal an opportunity to overcome objections to spaying and neutering cats before five months by presenting data that undercuts myths about future health risks.”
When age and gender are used to determine timeframe for surgery, veterinarians are more likely to spay females at a younger age than males.
Among the veterinarians surveyed, 31% indicated that they use age and gender to determine appropriate timeframe for surgery. When asked about the recommended age for females to be spayed, more than 61% said “five months or less.” However, when it comes to neutering males, 57% wait until the cat is six months or older. For those who use age as the exclusive determining factor, with no differentiation by gender, more than half wait until a cat is six months or older.
“We know that in recent years there has been an increase in the number of vets that recommend spaying and neutering at five months or less,” said Esther Mechler, Program Director for the Feline Fix by Five campaign. “This survey has provided us with valuable insights that will help inform targeted, relevant messaging to drive increased awareness and adoption of the fix by five months protocol among all veterinarians and cat owners.”
About the survey
Responses from more than 200 licensed veterinarians in the United States were captured as part of a blind survey to determine attitudes toward feline sterilization. The sample used for this survey included veterinarians who perform feline sterilization as a regular service offered through their practice.
About Feline Fix by Five Months
The mission of the Feline Fix by Five campaign is to raise public awareness of the benefits of sterilizing cats by the age of five months. The campaign is an initiative of Marian’s Dream, a nonprofit organization providing support to animal welfare groups and organizations. For more information, visit
Rebecca Price
Source: Feline Fix by Five Months