Don’t Delay — Neuter or Spay
Prevention Is the Solution
There are few greater joys than bringing a cat or dog into your home, and heart.
With this joy comes the commitment to provide your new family member with the comforts and necessities needed for a healthy and content life. Spaying or neutering your animal is one of these necessities.
All too often a pet’s unplanned pregnancy results in their offspring being brought to shelters, where likelihood of euthanasia is high, or abandoned to the streets, where a dangerous life and early death are practically guaranteed. Most abandoned animals starve or freeze to death, contract disease through their contact with garbage or other ill animals, are killed by cars, or fall victim to other torturous deaths. The best way to prevent these senseless cruelties is to prevent the cycle of reproduction, by neutering and spaying.
What Are Neutering and Spaying?
Neutering (orchectomy or castration) The surgical removal of the reproductive glands (testes) of a male animal.
Spaying (ovario-hysterectomy) The surgical removal of the reproductive organs (ovaries, uterus, and fallopian tubes) of a female animal.
Puppies and kittens of both sexes should be spayed or neutered by 6 months of age. Female cats can go into estrus (‘heat’) at as young as 4 months. More and more veterinarians are performing early-age spay/ neuter procedures on animals as young as 8 weeks of age, to ensure the animal will never be at risk of accidental pregnancy or able to impregnate. Vets who perform early-age spay/neuter report that the animals tend to recuperate more quickly as well, with a speedier healing time and less discomfort. Both the American Veterinary Medical Association and the Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights endorse early-age spay/neuter.
Older cats and dogs who are still intact should be altered as well, since they may remain fertile until 10 years of age or older.
Health and Behavior Benefits of Neutering and Spaying
The risk of cancer is substantially reduced in a sterilized animal. Male dogs are much more likely to contract prostate cancer if they are not neutered. Female dogs face risk of mammary cancer. Additionally, the earlier a dog or cat is altered, the lower the risk: An animal neutered before 6 months of age has almost a 100% chance of living prostate or ovarian cancer-free.
Male cats are far less likely to ‘mark’ their territory, particularly if neutered by 6 months.
Neutered dogs and cats are less aggressive, leading to fewer fights and, consequently, lower risk of injury or contracting contagious diseases. A sterilized animal is less likely to wander and cross streets in order to procreate. A spayed female cat will not serenade all of the neighborhood cats and her family at 2am!
Fact vs. Fiction
Myth: It is unnatural to interfere with an animal’s reproductive cycle.
Fact: Humans interfered with nature when we domesticated dogs and cats. In doing so, we helped create the dog and cat overpopulation crisis that now results in millions of these animals being killed in our shelter system and on the streets each year. We must now take responsibility for solving this crisis.
Myth: It’s healthier for a female to have one litter before she is spayed.
Fact: A female should ideally be spayed before her first estrus cycle. Early-age spaying (as young as 8 weeks) greatly reduces the likelihood of mammary tumors, uterine infections, and of course, unplanned pregnancy.
Myth: Males don’t need to be neutered since females have the litters.
Fact: Unaltered males are half of the overpopulation equation. In fact, all it takes is one intact male to impregnate several females. On average, a fertile female dog bears 1 litter of 4 to 6 puppies per year; a fertile female cat, 2 litters of 4 to 6 kittens. The numbers balloon exponentially: Just 1 litter of kittens can then produce 54 offspring in a single year.
Myth: A female dog or cat only comes into heat once a year.
Fact: Dogs go into heat, which lasts about 3 weeks, once or twice a year at as early as 6 months of age. Cats experience heat every 34 weeks from early spring through fall, starting as young as 4 months. Pregnancy for both cats and dogs lasts 63 days, and female cats can become pregnant as soon as 10 days after giving birth, while still nursing.
Myth: Female dogs and cats can’t be spayed while in heat.
Fact: Dogs and cats can safely be spayed while in heat or pregnant. Trust in the judgment of your veterinarian.
Myth: An animal becomes overweight and/or lazy when neutered.
Fact: Animals’ appetites may increase, but they become overweight from being provided too much food and not enough exercise. The only behavioral changes resulting from spaying and neutering are positive ones. With their drive to breed removed, dogs and cats are calmer, more content, less aggressive, and aren’t inclined to wander from home in search of a mate.
Myth: Spaying/neutering is expensive.
Fact: Spaying or neutering actually saves you money. The cost is less than for the major surgeries and treatments that may be needed if your animal is left unaltered, such as those addressing preventable cancers. You’ll pay far more in money and time taking care of and finding homes for puppies or kittens. Also, spaying and neutering benefits the community by curbing the number of animals that end up as strays or in pounds, where taxpayers pay to have them cared for and most likely killed.
Many areas have low-cost spay/neuter clinics or programs; Friends of Animals offers affordable spay/ neuter procedures through our network of participating veterinarians.
Low-cost Spay/Neuter Certificate Program
Check to see if we have participating vets in your area by entering your zip code at the bottom of this page or call 1-800-321-PETS for an order form. These certificates are honored by licensed veterinarians in hundreds of communities across the country.
What You Can Do
Have your animals neutered or spayed. More than 3 million dogs and cats are killed in our nation’s pounds and shelters each year. This is a tragedy that we can prevent. Neuter or spay — don’t delay.
Download our spay and neuter brochure for more information.Click here to download.
We rely on your generosity to keep our Spay/Neuter program as affordable as possible. All donations and bequests are tax-deductible as allowed by law. Your support is vital.