Spaying and Neutering is good for cats and communities. These surgical procedures are performed by veterinarians to sterilize animals, making them incapable of reproducing. This is particularly important for cats: a female can become pregnant as young as 4 months of age and can have two to three litters a year.
Although once a rare procedure, our research has shown that it is now common for owned cats to be spayed and neutered. This progress has been essential to paving the way for Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR)–you can’t have TNR without the N! Promoting Trap-Neuter-Return is something Alley Cat Allies started when we were founded in 1990. We started the first high-volume, high-quality spay/neuter clinic ever and have since helped to create the best practices for use in clinics nationwide.
Alley Cat Allies promotes pediatric spay and neuter. This is a surgical procedure performed when kittens weigh 2 pounds, at about 2 months old. Kittens can get pregnant as young as 4 months old, so spaying and neutering earlier is the best way to prevent litters. Veterinarians who perform pediatric spay and neuter say that it is an easier and faster procedure than at older ages and that kittens recover more quickly. It also virtually eliminates a cat’s chances of mammary tumors. Many animal shelters already perform pediatric spay and neuter before they offer cats for adoption, and the movement is gaining momentum in clinics around the country.
In July 2017, the American Veterinary Medical Association and other leading veterinary organizations endorsed a recommendation by the Veterinary Task Force on Feline Sterilization and the Fix by Five campaign to spay and neuter cats by 5 months old, instead of the customary 6 months old. This is a step in the right direction, but it’s important to keep pushing for earlier spay and neuter.
Alley Cats Allies promotes spaying and neutering by reaching out to the public about the benefits of spay/neuter, working closely with veterinarians on standards for high-quality, high-volume spay/neuter practices, and working to expand low-cost spay/neuter in communities nationwide.
Our own research published in the Journal of American Veterinary Medical Association found that the majority of pet cats in the U.S. are neutered.1 The need for spaying and neutering cats lies with addressing unowned, community, and feral cats. “[A]ny attempts to increase the proportion of neutered cats in the United States must include stray and feral cats.”
Alley Cat Allies encourages veterinarians who support earlier-age spay and neuter to list their practice on the Fix by Five web page to build support for his important movement.
1. Eighty percent of cats in U.S. households are neutered, according to a nationally representative study conducted by Alley Cat Allies and published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, a leading peer-reviewed scientific journal.
The Benefits of Spay/Neuter
Spay/Neuter has many benefits for individual cats and communities. Studies show spayed and neutered cats lead healthier and longer lives, and the procedure virtually eliminates the chances for certain kinds of tumors. Communities that embrace Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) benefit from unowned cats being spayed or neutered, which reduces and stabilizes cat populations and curbs unwanted behaviors associated with mating.
- Spay/Neuter: Good for Cats, Good for Communities—There are lots of myths and misinformation out there about spay/neuter. Learn the facts and get the details on why spay/neuter is good for cats and the community.
- Trap-Neuter-Vaccinate-Return—Through a TNVR program unowned, outdoor cats are humanely trapped, spayed or neutered, vaccinated, and returned to their outdoor home. TNVR help cats, stabilizes and reduces community cat populations, and addresses the needs of the community.
- Pediatric Spay and Neuter—Pediatric spay and neuter, performed when kittens weigh 2 pounds at about 2 months old, is becoming more commonplace. Studies show that kittens spayed or neutered at younger ages have fewer surgical complications, recover more quickly, and have a lower risk of mammary tumors.
More and more people are embracing spay/neuter as a way to help cats live longer, healthier lives. Alley Cat Allies helps educate the public with materials and workshops to help promote spay/neuter in communities where it’s needed. We also help educate and inform veterinarians on the latest spay/neuter protocols, research, and practices.
- Educational Materials—Find educational materials about spay/neuter, Trap-Neuter-Return, and more at our online shop.
- Veterinary Resource Center—Designed for veterinarians: Our Veterinary Resource Center includes protocols, educational materials, and research to help cats.
- Protocols: Pediatric Spay/Neuter—Alley Cat Allies promotes spaying or neutering a cat as soon as they’re when they’re 2 months old, or weigh 2 pounds–whichever comes first.
Making Spay/Neuter Accessible
Did you know the single biggest reason people don’t spay or neuter the pets is cost? Making sure spay/neuter is accessible is a huge part of making sure cats are getting the services they need. That’s why Alley Cat Allies works to promote low-cost, and high-quality, high-volume spay/neuter. Trap-Neuter-Return programs benefit the community by providing spay/neuter to unowned cats. We also support measures that expand spay/neuter services, and encourage spay/neuter before adoption.
- Spay/Neuter Status of Cats—Studies show the majority of pet cats (80%) are neutered. Family income was the single strongest predictor of whether pet cats living in households are neutered. Only 2.3% of unowned cats were neutered, pointing to the need for increased low-cost spay/neuter options, and Trap-Neuter-Return programs.
- High-Quality, High-Volume Spay/Neuter Clinics—Holding a HQHV spay/neuter clinic is one of the best ways to improve the lives of as many cats as possible.
- Sample Letters to Legislators
- Spay and Neuter Clinic Information
- Sample Press Releases and Media Advisories
- Protocols: Pediatric Spay and Neuter
- Alley Cat Action, Volume 26, Issue 2, Winter 2016