Objective: To determine long-term results and complications of gonadectomy performed at an early age (prepubertal) or at the traditional age in cats.
Design: Cohort study.
Animals: 263 cats from animal shelters.
Procedure: Cats that underwent gonadectomy were allotted to 2 groups on the basis of estimated age at surgery (traditional age, > or = 24 weeks old; prepubertal, < 24 weeks old). Adoptive owner information was obtained from shelter records, and telephone interviews were conducted with owners to determine physical or behavioral problems observed in the cats after adoption. Follow-up information was obtained from attending veterinarians for cats with complex problems or when owners were uncertain regarding the exact nature of their cat's problem.
Results: Compared with traditional-age gonadectomy, prepubertal gonadectomy did not result in an increased incidence of infectious disease, behavioral problems, or problems associated with any body system during a median follow-up period of 37 months. Additionally, the rate of retention in the original adoptive household was the same for cats that underwent prepubertal gonadectomy as those that underwent traditional-age gonadectomy.
Conclusions and clinical relevance: Prepubertal gonadectomy may be performed safely in cats without concern for increased incidence of physical or behavioral problems for at least a 3-year period after gonadectomy.