Get the Facts
to understand the situation.
Surprise! Cats and dogs can get pregnant earlier than most people think. Learn More
Oops! 50% of litters are not planned. Learn More
Yuck! Spaying/neutering early helps eliminate annoying behaviors like spraying, roaming, yowling, and fighting. Not to mention stopping heat cycles. Learn More
Current research supports early spay/neuter.Learn More
Surprise! Cats and dogs can get pregnant earlier than most people think.
Although there are always variations, cats can have their first heat as early as 4 months old, and dogs can have their first heat as early as 5 to 6 months old; and if they can come into heat, they can get pregnant! With 50% of litters being accidents, you can see how unwanted litters can add up quickly.
It may seem like she is still a baby herself, but she can now be a mom. This can be tough on her physically, but can also start a cycle of babies having babies. Cats can have up to 3 litters a year with an average of 4 kittens, and many people don’t know that the new mom can become pregnant again while still nursing a litter! Dogs can have up to 2 litters a year with an average of 4 puppies. View even more.
Oops! 50% of litters are not planned.
Because the desire to produce offspring is so strong in animals that have not been fixed, intact cats and dogs will go to extremes for the chance to mate. Even when you are as careful as possible, your pets can still find a way to breed with others; some in ways that you may have never thought possible. Intact dogs (particularly males) will break through screens, chew leashes, jump over, or dig under, 6-foot fences, or even mate through the fence! And even if your pet is safe in your yard, it doesn’t mean that another roaming animal won’t come and join them!
In addition, animals will breed with their relatives, their siblings, and even their parents. They do not understand those relationships the way that people do.
Yikes! 10 million homeless animals enter overcrowded shelters every year.
What you may not realize is that for each planned or “accidental” puppy or kitten you sell or have to give away, one more well-behaved, healthy shelter animal could be euthanized instead of adopted. In some shelters, up to 75% of all incoming animals have to be euthanized to make room for more. And in some shelters, 25% of the animals are purebred!
Please think twice before breeding your cute pet in hopes of getting a beautiful replica. Your animal is one of a kind, and their offspring will have their own distinct personalities. Those great personalities are already waiting for you in a shelter. Go and find them!
Yuck! Spaying/neutering early helps eliminate annoying behaviors like spraying, roaming, yowling, and fighting. Not to mention stopping heat cycles.
Spaying and neutering early stops many unwanted behaviors from even starting in both cats and dogs. For example, female cats can go into heat up to ten times in a year, and the heat cycle can last up to 2 weeks. That means that for 20 weeks a year you could be dealing with the thrashing, the howling, the flirting, and the escape attempts that go along with having an intact female cat!
Male cats and dogs that have not been fixed have a strong desire to mark their territory by spraying strong-smelling urine. They constantly roam in search of mates, which makes them more likely to get hit by a car, and they are likely to get in fights with other males to compete for mates. Female dogs can also become aggressive during their heat cycles, which can pose a risk to other animals and small children.
Taking away the desire to breed at an early age, however, does not take away your pet's beloved personality. Your male cat or dog’s sense of manliness won’t disappear either. Animals have no concept of their sexual identity, so Spike isn’t going to suffer any kind of identity crisis once he’s neutered.
A fixed pet will simply be more content to stay at home with you and out of danger, living a longer, happier life.
Yes! Spaying/neutering early is safe and easy.
Your veterinarian is well trained in practices to keep your puppy or kitten safe. Animals are fed small meals during the day to keep their energy up, and kept warm during surgery to prevent loss of heat. In fact, surgeries on younger animals are easier and quicker to perform, meaning that your pet will be under anesthesia for less time, which is better for them. Puppies and kittens also recover from surgery quicker than adults, so will be back to themselves faster too!
Female dogs and cats who have gone through their first heat are 16 times more likely to develop the animal form of breast cancer than animals who are spayed before their first heat. See more benefits.
Current research supports early spay/neuter.
We've collected a number of articles and research papers that illustrate the many benefits of early spay/neuter. Click on each author to read further:
- Early spay/neuter safer than traditional age: 1. Joyce & Yates, 2. Kustritz, 3. Kustritz (Short)
- Early spay/neuter benefits the animal: Fuess
- Early spay/neuter benefits outweigh risks: Spain et al. (Cats), (Dogs)
- Importance of spay/neuter in pet overpopulation: Griffin
- Long-term outcomes of early spay/neuter: Howe et al. (Cats), (Dogs)
- Early spay/neuter overview: Bushby
- Many benefits to spay/neuter: Marsh
- Pediatric spay/neuter is safe: Kustritz
- Obesity risk gone after two years: Lefebvre et al.
- Optimal age for spay/neuter: Kustritz
- Spaying reduces risk of mammary tumors: 1. Bergman, 2. Sorenmo, 3. Brooks (Cats), (Dogs)
- Guidelines for early spay/neuter: Looney at al.