Why we choose early spay/neuter
Early spay and neuter, or altering a cat before 6 months old, has been a hot topic in the cat breeding community, as well as a question I've been asked frequently, so I thought I'd go over the studies and why we chose to ESN our kittens.
Let's speak about the studies. There have been relatively few studies on the consequences of ESN in cats, but the ones that have been done have only shown a slightly higher risk in large breed cats of having certain joint issues later in life, however this was not consistent across all studies. It is crucial to note that no specific research has been conducted on Maine coons, and it is reasonable to state that the majority of people are unaware of actual purebred cats and believe that their large or overweight domestic longhair is a Maine coon.
There have been talks concerning ESN on Facebook cat breeding pages. Many newer breeders are debating whether to ESN or not because we all want the best for our cats. Unfortunately, because the majority of vets refuse to do ESN, many breeders are forced to make the decision to not ESN, which could be a whole debate in itself on why vets are refusing when studies don't prove a benefit of waiting. The breeders that have been breeding for 5-20 years who ESN have never or very rarely seen complications in their kittens when it comes to the greatest allegations against ESN, urethral blockages and orthopedic disorders. If they seen issues it was usually in realted kittens. As a result, this has solidified our decision to ESN all of our kittens not being used for breeding.
Health problems can occur in any case, and I believe that before blaming ESN, other environmental issues must be addressed. Despite the fact that cats are obligate carnivores and require a high moisture diet, the majority of cat owners feed their cats a 100% dry food diet. Cats fed a high moisture diet in the form of raw, homecooked, or wet cat food had a lower risk of developing urinary problems, according to research. Cats who are stressed and do not receive enough environmental enrichment are more likely to have urinary problems as well. Adding wet food, soaking dry food in water, and adding a liquid to your cat's food such as bone broth or goat's milk, as well as providing your cat with an enriching environment such as cat toys that aid in hunting instincts, catios, or window seats to bird watch, will all significantly reduce the risk of urinary issues.
Having received numerous weight-related messages and comments, I am aware that people are growing infatuated with the enormous size of Maine coons without knowing that Maine coons are large without being 30-40 pounds and overweight. Because Maine coons are large cats, there is a greater risk of orthopedic problems, whether ESN or not. It is critical not to focus on getting your Maine coon to a certain weight in order to brag about how big it is, because the more weight there is, the more strain there is on the bones. It is especially vital to be wary with kittens jumping or falling down from high places when they are young and the growth plates have not yet closed. I don't have tall cat trees in my house, and I always keep a chair near to my high windows that the cats enjoy sitting on so they don't jump off.
Breeders appreciate it when the kittens' new owners keep in touch with them and inform them of any problems, as this can reveal genetic abnormalities. If the same parents' kittens continue to have health problems, there may be a genetic component, and the breeder should review and remove the parents from the breeding program.
The advantages have far surpassed the risks, including a lower risk of some cancers. Spaying female cats before their first heat cycle can greatly reduce the risk of developing uterine and ovarian cancers. Male cat neutering lowers the chance of testicular cancer and may minimize the incidence of prostate issues. Spaying reduces the incidence of pyometra, a life-threatening infection of the unterus that occurs in unspayed female cats even during their first heat cycle. In addition to removing the possibility of reproductive issues such as false pregnancies and reproductive tract infections.
As a breeder, I will never contribute to the problem of shelter and street overpopulation. Breeders are already blamed for overpopulation by animal rights activists and "adopt don't shop" advocates (see my blog post about why ethical breeders aren't to blame), and I will never prove them right. We are completely opposed to irresponsible pet breeding. With Maine coons becoming more popular, many people are only concerned with the price and how much money they can earn by breeding them unethically, and there is no way I could watch every kitten in their new home to determine whether or not they were being bred.
Unfortunately, because animals are considered property and individuals have the freedom to do anything they want with their property, even contracts prohibiting breeding are rarely enforced in court. Instead, judges will usually order the buyer to pay the cost of breeding rights, which will not dissuade people. Animals are driven by instincts, and instincts tell them to reproduce, so even if a new owner does not intend to intentionally breed their cat, there is a good chance that it may escape and reproduce regardless. Cats can breed as early as 4 months old, and they will seek out a mate and become more determined to leave the house.
Behavior issues such as males being more aggressive, unable to be around other animals, not affectionate, and eventually starting to spray, which can destroy furniture and carpets in the home, may also begin to emerge. Females may begin using the bathroom outside of the litter box, in bathtubs, and even on your bed in protest of not being bred. All of these things will result in an unpleasant experience and an owner's urge to get rid of the cat.
Ultimately we want what is best for our kittens and success for the new owner to assure that kitten can live the best life in one home and we believe that ESN is the best way to assure that.