by Judy Morgan, D.V.M.
Each year more than 12 million dogs and cats end up in animal shelters throughout the country. Spaying and neutering pets is the single most effective way to stop this problem. But spaying and neutering also prevents many types of medical conditions such as prostate infections and infections of the uterus (pyometra), as well as preventing injuries associated with roaming, such as getting hit by a motor vehicle or wounds from fighting. Neutering a male animal will virtually eliminate any risk of prostatic cancer. Mammary cancer risk approaches zero percent in females spayed before their first heat cycle. The risk of developing mammary cancer later in life rises by about 10 percent after each heat cycle the animal experiences.
Breeding behavior can be annoying and difficult to live with. Males marking their territory, howling to chase females, and acting with aggression are all undesirable behaviors that may be eliminated with neutering. Females desiring to roam, attracting males to your house, bleeding on the carpets, and howling to go outside are also not attractive traits.
It is not true that a cat or dog should be allowed to have a litter before being altered, nor is it true that an altered pet becomes fat and lazy. The owner sets the feeding and exercise schedule and has control over the animal’s weight and activity! Altered pets are not frustrated sexually; without their reproductive organs, they have no reproductive hormones, and therefore have no sex drive.
You are a more responsible pet owner when you have your animal spayed or neutered. Two uncontrolled breeding cats, plus all their kittens and all their kittens’ kittens, if never spayed or neutered add up to 80,399,780 cats in 10 years! (Assuming 2 litters per year, 2.8 surviving kittens per litter, 10-year breeding life.)
So be a responsible, caring, loyal owner to your animal. Provide them with food, shelter, love and surgical sterilization! Help prevent millions of homeless animals that are killed each year. Save a life – adopt a pet. Save thousands of lives – spay or neuter your pet.
Dr. Morgan practices at Pitman Animal Hospital and Clayton Veterinary Associates.