You're not irresponsible unless you let them outside before they're spayed or neutered. (Ideally they won't go outside at all, but that's a different topic!)
Shelters will spay and neuter at 6 to 8 weeks no matter what. Personally, I think that's too early, but I understand why they do it. When they gave the vouchers to come back, or tried to fine people if they didn't do it, it didn't work, so they do what does work.
Personally, I think it's better for them to have the hormones during their time of most rapid growth, until they're around 4 to 6 months. Every vet I have worked with agrees with this. They are also much more sensitive to anesthesia when they are so little, and therefore, it's a bit riskier. They also tend to dehydrate some with anesthesia when they are very small, and the females seem to be in a bit more pain than when they're older. (The males don't experience much pain either way, male cat neuters are really simple.) If you have a male and a female, I would do it around the 3 1/2 to 4 month mark, to make sure you get it done before the female goes into heat. Most female cats have their first heat around 6 months, but every once in awhile you see that early bloomer that gets her first heat around 4 months. If they're both male or both female, then anywhere from 4 to 6 months is perfect. The goal is to spay females before their first heat (everything swells up during heat, and when it's over, it doesn't quite go back down to where it was before, so it's just an easier surgery on the vet and the kitty if it's done before this) and males before they hit sexual maturity (behavior like spraying to mark territory or "humping" can become a habit once it starts, and continue even after the neuter).
Unless your friend is a vet or a tech or at least a kennel worker, her opinion isn't really based in anything. If you let them outside or wait too long and let the female get pregnant, than yes, that's irresponsible. If you wait until they're old enough to handle the surgery better and get some health benefits from the hormones, and keep them indoors and do it before they are mature, than I would say that's the more responsible thing.
Opinions vary on this, even within the veterinary community, and this is my opinion based on the hospitals I have worked with and the vets that I know and what I have seen and studied. You may get other answers based on other people's experience. Talk to your vet and do a little research and make the decision that you feel is in the best interest of your babies' health if you have any doubts.
RVT for 12 years
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