Shelters across the United States are filled with unwanted cats and dogs every year. Though many are adopted, more are euthanized due to overcrowding and poor health. Spaying and neutering have been the most helpful resources in solving this problem. Spaying is the term for complete removal of a female’s ovaries and uterus and neutering is removal of a male’s testicles. Both prevent any chances of reproduction. With spring on the way, kitten season will be in full force. One female cat can have an average of 3 litters a year with some litters having up to 12 kittens!
Not only should feral cats be spayed and neutered, it is highly recommended that household cats and dogs also be neutered. Besides controlling the pet population if your pet happens to escape the house (it happens more than you think), it’s also a benefit to their overall health. Unspayed female cats and dogs run many risks including breast cancer (1 in 4 dogs), pyometra (an infected uterus), and uterine cancer among other things. Spaying pets around the age of 6 months is recommended with some dog breeds recommended slightly later, but generally by 1 year old. Diseases such as pyometra and breast cancer are expensive to treat and life threatening, but can easily be avoided at a lower cost when pets are spayed young. Females used for breeding require x-rays, ultrasound, and potentially C-sections to deliver healthy litters and can suffer post-partum illnesses such as eclampsia which also get costly.
Male dogs and cats can also benefit from neutering. Male cats eventually start to spray urine with a pungent odor around 1 year old. Neutering will prevent this before it begins or can stop it if you adopt an older cat. Generally we see more male dogs go un-neutered which can result in prostate issues as they age including cysts, cancer, infection, and enlargement along with testicular cancer. Behavior concerns can also be affected by continued presence of testosterone.
In the immortal words of Bob Barker, “Help control the pet population. Have your pets spayed or neutered.” Your vet definitely agrees.