What is neutering?
To accomplish surgical neutering, a
veterinarian removes certain reproductive
organs. If your cat or dog is a female, the
veterinarian will remove her ovaries, fallopian
tubes and uterus. The proper name for this
operation is an ovariohysterectomy, although it
is commonly called "spaying."
The testicles are removed from a male animal.
This operation is properly called an orchiectomy,
although it is usually referred to as
castration, or simply "neutering."
What are the advantages?
For you, the operation results in added
convenience. It eliminates blood stains on
carpets and floors, and usually stops tomcats
from spraying strong-smelling urine on furniture
and drapes. You'll no longer have annoying or
menacing suitors to contend with. There's no
need to confine your pet during "heat" periods,
and no unwanted litters of puppies and kittens to take care of or find
homes for. Your pet will be more likely to stay
home and devote attention to you and your
For dogs and cats, surgical neutering
eliminates a female's chances of developing
uterine infections and reduces the possibility
that she might develop mammary cancer. Males
usually become less aggressive and spend more
time at home, thus decreasing their chances of
being injured in fights or automobile accidents.
Your community will also benefit. Unwanted
animals are becoming a very real concern in many
places. Stray animals can easily become a public
nuisance, soiling parks and streets, ruining
shrubbery, frightening children and elderly
people, creating noise and other disturbances,
causing automobile accidents, and sometimes even
killing livestock or other pets.
As a potential source of rabies and other
less serious diseases, they can be a public
health hazard. The capture, impoundment and
eventual destruction of unwanted animals costs
taxpayers and private humanitarian agencies
millions of dollars each year.
Will it change my pet's intelligence or
Only for the better. The operation has no
effect on intelligence. And most neutered pets
tend to be more gentle and affectionate. They
become less interested in other animals and
spend more time with the family.
Will it make my pet fat?
Removing the ovaries or testicles does affect
metabolism. This seems to make many neutered
pets put on weight more easily if permitted to
overeat. The diet of every dog and cat should be
carefully regulated to prevent excess weight,
and this is particularly true after a neutering
Is the operation painful?
Spaying and neutering operations are
performed painlessly while your pet is under
general anesthesia. After the surgery there may
be some discomfort, but this is part of the
normal healing process and can be controlled
When should my pet have the operation?
Generally speaking, as early as possible.
Most veterinarians recommend that a female be
spayed before her first estrus or "heat" period
(around 6 months of age). A male dog or a tomcat
can be neutered at 6 months to a year old. Your
veterinarian can recommend the best time for
Is the operation expensive?
Professional fees for spaying and neutering
reflect the difficulty of the procedures
involved. The actual fee varies from one area to
another, depending largely on the economics of
maintaining a veterinary hospital in a
particular community. The size, age, sex and
health of your pet affect the cost of the
If the fee seems high, remember that surgical
neutering is permanent. It's a life-time
investment in your pet that can solve a number
of problems for you, your pet, and society
already burdened with too many dogs and cats. In
fact, it could save you money in the long run.
The cost of boarding your pet during just one or
two "heat" periods, for example, probably would
pay for an ovariohysterectomy.
A litter--wanted or unwanted--also means
added expenses. A nursing mother needs extra
food and care, and once weaned, the offspring
must be fed as well. New puppies and kittens also
need inoculations and they may have to be
treated for parasites. Even if your pet never
has a litter, she could develop "female
disorders" that would require surgery similar to
or even more serious than spaying.
What are the alternatives?
The oldest (and in some respects the easiest)
way to prevent mating is to keep your pet
confined during its fertile periods. Once they
reach sexual maturity, male animals can mate any
time they are not confined.
Females can become pregnant only during their
estrus or "heat" periods. These cycles usually
occur twice a year in dogs, and at least two or
three times a year in cats. Many cats "come into
heat" as often as once every 2 or 3 weeks during
Since pets are capable of mating so much of
the time, confinement is not particularly
convenient for the owner. It also does nothing
to eliminate such problems as spotting and
spraying, or susceptibility to uterine infection
and mammary cancer.
Veterinary medical scientists are working to
develop a "pill" or some other convenient method
of birth control for pets. There are now several
medications on the market that can be used
temporarily to keep an animal out of heat.
At present, other than confining your animal,
the sure way to keep your pet from mating is to
have it surgically neutered.
Will it stop the "pet population
Spaying and neutering pets should help reduce
the problem of surplus cats and dogs, but
surgery alone is not enough. Unowned animals are
a major part of the problem. In addition to
creating a public nuisance and possible health
hazard, stray dogs and cats give birth to
unwanted puppies and kittens at an alarming rate.
Many communities have tremendously reduced or
nearly eliminated their unwanted animal
populations simply by enforcing existing animal
control regulations. Others have come to grips
with the problem by passing more stringent laws
and enforcing them rigidly.
As a concerned citizen, you should do
everything you can to see that leash laws and
other animal control regulations in your
community are up to date and adequately
enforced. And, as a responsible pet owner, you
should make sure your pet does not contribute to