World Spay Day – Challenging the Myths Around Neutering

World Spay Day

Challenging the Myths Around Neutering

Today, Tuesday 26 February marks the 25th annual World Spay Day – an international event to raise awareness of the importance of neutering.

Neutering a pet means removing the reproductive organs – for females this is often referred to as spaying and involves removing the ovaries and womb. In males, this involves removing the testicles, and is also known as castration. This prevents unplanned litters at a time when rescue and rehoming centres are already full to bursting point.

Neutering also has important health benefits for your pet, explains PDSA Vet Olivia Anderson-Nathan. “Spaying female cats and dogs prevents or reduces the risk of several life-threatening illnesses, including preventing cancer of the womb and ovaries, as well as pyometra – a very serious womb infection.

“In males, castration prevents illnesses such as testicular cancer, and reduces the risk of prostate disease. In male cats, castration can also reduce the instinct to roam and fight other cats, which in turn reduces their exposure to nasty injuries and diseases such as FIV. It can also reduce their habit of spraying indoors, something every cat owner dreads.

“For rabbits, neutering reduces fighting, enabling them to live together in harmony, while also preventing unplanned litters. This allows them to have companionship, which is vital for them to be happy and healthy.”

Despite all the benefits, more than 3.5 million dogs and cats* in the UK remain un-neutered. So PDSA vets have tackled some of the most common myths around this.

Myth: my pet should have a litter first before being neutered.

Reality: untrue. There is no evidence to show any benefit to your pet to having a litter first. In fact, in many cases the earlier your pet is neutered, the more health benefits there are.

Myth: my pet needs to have a season first before she can be neutered.

Reality: untrue for cats, but for dogs it’s not as clear cut. Cats can be neutered from as young as four months old, as they become sexually mature soon after this. There are no known health or other benefits to allowing female cats to have a season first. For female dogs, speak to your vet for advice about what’s best for your individual dog, as it will depend on their breed, size and other factors. Most dogs can be neutered from as young as six months old. For some dogs there might be some benefits to allowing them to go through ‘puberty’ though this isn’t clear cut so ask your vet if you’re not sure.

Myth: neutering is an invasive and risky surgery

Reality: Neutering is a routine operation carried out by vets on a daily basis. For female cats the operation usually lasts around 20 minutes, while for males it is under 10 minutes. For dogs the operation is around 30 minutes for males and about an hour for females. For rabbits, females take around 45 minutes and males take around 20 minutes.

Your pet will be given pain relief to keep them comfortable and the vast majority will be able to go home the same day, recovering very quickly.

For more myth-busting about neutering, visit

PDSA is the UK’s leading vet charity. We’re on a mission to improve pet wellbeing through prevention, education and treatment. Support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery helps us reach even more pet owners with vital advice and information.

Neutering is important to stop feral kitten colonies from overpopulating areas.
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