Monday, June 17, 2013

Five reasons to spay or neuter your cat

At Exclusively Cats Veterinary Hospital, we are often asked why people should spay or neuter their cats. Here are some of the reasons why it is a good idea:

1.      Population control
Every year 3-4 million unwanted pets are euthanized by various animal control organizations (nearly 10,000 every day). This equals about 70% of the cats that enter shelters each year. Even more are abandoned for various reasons – to the outdoors, in abandoned houses, or dropped alongside highways, Dumpsters, in
JAVMA kitten statistics
parking lots or worse.
It is currently estimated that about 25% of pets are un-spayed. That equates over 40 million un-spayed and un-neutered cats and dogs. Seventy million dogs and cats are born every day in the US – that’s nearly 50 born every minute3!
One female cat can produce an average of 2-3 litters per year and 1-8 kittens in each litter, usually an average of 4 kittens. That equates to 2-16 kittens yearly per female cat. Some estimated figure that a pair of intact, breeding cats can produce as many as 420,000 offspring in seven years2. The Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (JAVMA) estimates more conservatively at 32,768 kittens after 7 years, but then points out that cats are living longer, healthier lives, so could conceivably reproduce for longer, producing up to 2,097,152 offspring in 10 years. 

2.      Health
Spayed and neutered cats tend to be healthier. While there is a slight risk for weight gain following ovariohysterectomy (spay) and orchidectomy (neuter) surgeries, monitoring your cat’s diet and weight closely can help prevent this. 
Conversely, the health benefits of spaying and neutering a cat are vast. For females, the risk of cancer is decreased by 25% overall1. If spayed before the first heat cycle, the risk decreases even more – to virtually nothing. These cancers are fatal 90% of the time in cats. In addition, spayed females have a decreased risk
Mammary cyst in un-spayed 11 year old calico cat
Mammary Cyst in un-spayed 11 year old cat
for urinary tract infections and hormonal changes. Spaying also completely e
liminates the risk of potentially fatal uterine infections (pyometra) or other complications of the uterus (read Debbie’s Story).
Male cats that are neutered tend to live 40% longer than un-neutered males.

Many people think that they must wait until 6 months of age or until their cat has had one heat cycle before having a spay surgery performed, however that is not entirely true. Younger kittens tend to bounce back more quickly and with advancements in surgical techniques, anesthesia protocols and surgical protocols, it is just as safe at 3 months as it is at 6 months. 


3.      Prevent inappropriate urination and marking
Most people know that un-neutered males will spray very stinky smelling urine to mark their territory and ward off other males. However, what many people do not know is that females that are not spayed will also mark territory with urine. They will urinate in front of males in order to attract attention, or may urinate near doors and windows as a signal to outdoor cats or in frustration that they cannot escape outside to find a mate. More information about inappropriate elimination behavior can be found in our blog article Feline Inappropriate Urination: Acting out all over the house!

4.      Prevent unwanted behaviors and side effects
Did you know that 70% of people that acquire animals end up giving them away, abandoning them or taking them to shelters? Of the 6 to 8 million pets a year that enter animal shelters, only about 10% have been spayed or neutered.3

Some of the reasons that un-altered pets are turned over to shelters include behaviors that stem from the fact that they are not spayed or neutered. The single most pressing desire of an un-altered pet is the desire to find a mate. Un-neutered males and un-spayed females will try all the tricks in their books to escape out open doors and windows. If they already go outside, they may roam farther than normal. If trapped inside, they hay howl at night or become excessively moody, aggressive, needy or simply unpredictable. Often, un-neutered males have rough, thin or otherwise poor hair coats and develop a sticky “goo” at the base of their tail called “stud tail”. Un-neutered males tend to be more aggressive and develop very odorous urine.

5.      Overall happiness – for all!
Spayed and neutered cats are more relaxed, less-single-mindedly interested in trying to get outside or frustrated at being trapped inside. Altered pets are less unpredictable, calmer and more social. They tend to get along with other pets better, too! As an added benefit, happy pets make for happy pet parents!

The cost of spaying or neutering a pet is far less than the cost of dealing with the complications of pregnancy or the cost of raising and caring for a litter of kittens. It is also far less than the cost of treating uterine infections, mammary cancer, or the cleanup involved after your cat has sprayed around the house. Never mind the frustration!




1.Data on file at IDEXX Laboratories, Inc. Westbrook, Maine USA.
2.Top 10 Reasons to Spay or Neuter Your Pets. American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals website. http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/spayneuter/spay-neuter-top-ten.aspx Accessed March 25, 2013.
3. Oxford-Lafayette Humane Society http://www.oxfordpets.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=61
4. Floyd, Lynya, 5 Ways to Add Years to Your Pet’s Life, http://www.familycircle.com/family-fun/pets/ways-to-add-years-to-your-pets-life/