A very important thing that cat owners can do is to have their cats desexed before they reach puberty and can reproduce, known as pre-pubertal desexing or PPD.
PPD has health and welfare benefits for the individual cat and can help reduce the number of unwanted and homeless cats in Australia.
While it's uncommon to find an undesexed dog in most Australian communities these days, undesexed cats are far more common and present a huge welfare concern.
Fortunately, the science is clear about the benefits of desexing and, especially, the benefits of desexing cats before puberty.
Desexing prevents unwanted pregnancies, but did you know research shows that desexing can reduce the risk of certain diseases and behavioural issues, benefiting your cat's health and welfare?
The benefits are even greater if cats are desexed prior to puberty. PPD is safe, effective and benefits individual cats, which is why the RSPCA has just released a report highlighting the benefits of PPD.
Here are some things to consider when it comes to why desexing, and especially desexing before puberty, is right for cats and the community.
Behavioural and health benefits
Desexing can reduce the risks of some potentially serious health problems, for example, mammary cancer, and eliminates the risk of uterine infections.
Desexing your cat can help reduce the likelihood of unwanted behaviours such as fighting or spraying in male cats, or yowling during breeding season in females.
Support for PPD
The current scientific evidence strongly supports desexing cats before puberty; this means desexing before a cat can reproduce which is as early as four months of age.
Desexing before puberty (at or before four months of age) is safe, effective and better for individual cats. RSPCA shelters have practiced PPD for many years, and many veterinary organisations and peak bodies already advocate for it.
The science shows that there are health and welfare benefits that come from desexing young cats before puberty, such as a faster surgical time, lower overall complication rate and shorter recovery times compared to desexing at the traditional age of 5.5 to six months of age - just to name a few.
You can read more in the RSPCA's report, which is available on our Knowledgebase.
PPD is safe and effective, prevents any unwanted pregnancies before a cat is desexed and there's no greater risk of short-term or longer-term issues compared to desexing at an older age, nor is there any evidence of behaviour differences.
Desex male cats too
It is important to desex male cats as well as females. They can impregnate undesexed female cats in their local area and this adds to the overpopulation problem in Australia, with thousands of unwanted cats and kittens ending up at animal shelters and pounds every year.
Even if your male cat lives indoors, a clever escape artist can quickly nip out the front door.
Cats breed incredibly fast so it's important you take all adequate precautions to ensure your cat is desexed and unable to reproduce.
Additionally, desexing your cat reduces their desire to roam, better protecting them from road accidents, fighting with other cats, disease and illness or getting lost.
Desexing is the way to go
The RSPCA, many vets and animal welfare groups believe an important way to address the cat over-population problem and improve individual cat welfare is PPD.
Desexing is very important for your cat and for the community. The RSPCA encourages cat owners to talk to their vet about having their cat desexed before puberty.
In addition, future cat owners can also ask the shelter or breeder they're thinking of adopting from whether their cats are desexed before puberty, or visit a shelter that desexes all kittens (through PPD) and cats prior to adoption, such as the RSPCA.
See the RSPCA's new report at kb.rspca.org.au/knowledge-base/why-does-the-rspca-advocate-desexing-cats-before-puberty/