Resources > Benefits of spaying your cat
Health Benefits Spaying or neutering your pet eliminates or reduces a wide variety of health problems that can be very difficult and expensive to treat. Females no longer have to go through heat cycles and the health- and behaviour-related issues accompanying them. Males are no longer controlled by their hormones, reducing aggressive behaviour and the tendency to roam. But most importantly, spaying and neutering eliminate or reduces many types of cancer, tumours and other serious health complications. The simple fact is that altered pets generally live longer, healthier lives.
At the same time, pets that carry harmful genetic traits such as hip dysplasia or epilepsy should be neutered to prevent the spread or continuation of these conditions and others like them.
Fewer Injuries and Infections Since sterilized animals no longer need to roam to look for a mate, they have less chance of being involved in bloody fights that leave them with scars on their faces or missing parts of their ears and tails. They also avoid traumatic accidents such as being hit by a car. At the same time, the threat of abscesses caused by bites, infections and diseases transmitted by fighting and other contagious diseases are greatly reduced—allowing you to avoid expensive veterinary bills.
Fewer Diseases and Other Health Problems After euthanasia, cancer is the number one killer of cats and dogs. It is very common for veterinarians to see unaltered pets for infections, conditions and diseases that are caused primarily by repeated surges of hormones.
Statistics prove that neutered males are healthier pets. Many diseases and health problems are caused by the effects of testosterone, a hormone produced in the testicles. By removing the source of testosterone, neutering reduces and eliminates the risks of many cancers and other hormone-related medical conditions. None of the behavioural or medical problems caused by testosterone are rare. Veterinarians deal with them daily.
Neutering eliminates the chances of developing:
- Testicular tumours and cancer. Testicular cancer is the second most frequently diagnosed cancer in older intact male dogs. Several types of tumours, both benign and malignant, can arise within the testicles.
Neutering dramatically decreases the chances of developing:
Prostatic disease. Over 80% of all unneutered male dogs develop prostate disease.
- Infections and disorders of the prostate glands. Prostate conditions such as prostate enlargement, cysts, and infection are all related to the presence of testosterone.
- Perianal tumours—These are tumours whose growth is stimulated by testosterone; these are commonly observed in older, unaltered dogs.
- Perianal gland cancer is the third most frequently diagnosed cancer in older intact male dogs.
- Serious types of hernias. These are commonly observed in older, unaltered dogs and can occur on either or both sides of the anus. One of testosterone’s long-term effects is causing the muscles near the anus to weaken or atrophy. The surgery to repair hernia complications can range from $300 to $1500, depending on the severity.
- Infections and disorders of the prepuce (the outer covering of the penis).
Spayed females are happier, healthier pets. The more heat cycles an unspayed pet goes through, the more susceptible she is to serious diseases. During an ovariohysterectomy (spaying), the uterus and ovaries are removed, ensuring that the hormones that cause health- and behaviour-related problems are no longer produced. At the same time, many cancers, tumours and other medical conditions are reduced or eliminated.
Spaying eliminates the chances of developing:
- Pyometra. Pyometra is a serious and potentially fatal infection of the uterus experienced by many unspayed cats and dogs. If it is left untreated, your pet will most likely die.
- Ovarian cancer, cysts and infections. Ovarian cancer is a common occurrence in unaltered females.
- Uterine cancer and uterine infections. These are common occurrences in unaltered female dogs and cats, especially older pets.
- Acute metritis (infected uterus). This can be potentially fatal if not treated in time.
- Difficult pregnancy and delivery. This is common in older and ill cats.
- Pseudopregnancies. Some females go through a false pregnancy every time they come into heat.
Spaying greatly decreases the chances of developing:
- Breast cancer and tumours. The rate goes down to almost zero if the spay is done before the first heat cycle. Breast cancer is the most common malignant tumour in dogs and the third most common cancer in cats. The chances of a female dog reaching 10 years of age without developing this potentially fatal tumour is less than 11% in some breeds with average hormone production.
- Tumours of the reproductive system.
- Mammary cancer. Mammary cancer is very common in older unspayed females and is the most common cancer to spread to the lungs.
- Mastitis (infection of the mammary glands). This can be potentially fatal if not treated in time.
- Mammary tumours. Unspayed females have about a 7 times greater chance of getting mammary tumours.
- False pregnancies.
- Certain skin conditions are related to hormonal imbalances.
Hair loss. The hair coat on many dogs suffers because of estrogen surges that occur with heat cycles or whelping. Their coats appear thin, and the underlying skin is exposed in many areas. It can take 2 to 4 months for the hair to return to normal.
Myths about what happens to pets when they are spayed and neutered
- My pet will get fat and lazy. There is no medical evidence to prove this. Spaying or neutering your pets improve both their health and behaviour. The only way your pet will get fat and lazy is because of overeating and lack of exercise.
Many spayed and neutered dogs hunt, are entered into agility shows, become service dogs and are trained in search and rescue. These dogs are anything but lazy.
One of the reasons people might think pets calm down and gain weight after spaying or neutering is that because as a female puppy nears physical maturity, she becomes somewhat less physically active and requires fewer calories for energy. Physical maturity often follows shortly behind a spaying operation; therefore the spaying is often blamed.
- My pet must be 6 months old to be spayed or neutered. Not true. Altering pets between 5 and 7 months of age was established by tradition rather than for any specific medical reason. Years ago, when safe pediatric anesthetic techniques were unavailable, waiting until a patient was older increased the safety of surgery. But we no longer need to delay altering for this reason. In fact, there is medical evidence that shows many additional health benefits in early spaying and neutering.
- It’s better for my pet to have one litter first. Medical evidence indicates just the opposite. In fact, there are many additional health benefits if you spay or neuter your pet early before they reach sexual maturity. Evidence shows females spayed before their first heat are typically healthier.
- I need to wait until after my pet’s first heat. Not true. In fact, there are many additional health benefits if you spay or neuter your pet early before they reach sexual maturity. Any heat brings with it the chance your dog could become pregnant.
- Males don’t give birth so we don’t need to neuter them. Not true. In fact, while a female pet can only have one litter at a time, male animals can impregnate many females each day.
- My pet’s personality will change. This is false. Any personality changes that may result from neutering are for the better. Pets become less aggressive, anxious and distracted; are less likely to wander, fight, howl, spray and mount; and focus their attention on you rather than finding a mate. Pet personalities are formed more by genetics and environment than sex hormones.
- My dog won’t be protective anymore. Spaying or neutering does not affect a dog’s instinct to protect its home and family. It won’t cause changes in your dog’s basic instinct to be a good watchdog. Most pets will be more reliable and responsible after neutering and are often easier to train because of stabilized hormones. Training, not hormones, makes a male dog a good guard dog.
- My dog won’t be a good hunting companion anymore. Spaying or neutering actually improves hunting instincts. Unaltered pets often have their minds on mating or fighting instead of hunting. Your sterilized pet will no longer be distracted by hormonal drives and can focus on you and the hunt. If your pet had the hunting instinct before spaying or neutering, the instinct would still be there after the surgery. Unspayed hunting dogs have heat cycles 6 weeks during the year, and females in heat are not physically up to hunting.
- Having a litter will make my pet more mature. Becoming pregnant and having a litter of kittens in no way alters the maturity level of a pet, either physically or mentally. Motherhood will not have a calming effect on a nervous, excitable, hyperactive female. It is not a relaxing occupation. If anything, you’ll probably have a litter of nervous or hyperactive puppies or kittens on your hands.
- I don’t want my pet to feel like less of an animal. Pets don’t have any concept of sexual identity or ego. They don’t suffer any emotional reaction or identity crisis when neutered.
- I wouldn’t want to live without sex, and neither should my pet. Many dog and cat owners credit their pets with human emotions and reactions. Owners are reluctant to spay or neuter because, as human beings, they don’t like the idea of life without sex and imagine their dog or cat will feel the same way. Pets don’t have any concept of sexual identity. The truth is, the surgery doesn’t cause any emotional disturbances in your pet