All About Spaying and Neutering

Jefferson-22354996(3)Spaying is the surgical removal of a female dog or cat’s ovaries and uterus.

Neutering is the surgical removal of a male dog or cat’s testicles.

What are the advantages of spaying female cats and dogs?

  • Will not have a heat cycle
  • Will not be able to reproduce
  • Will not affect protectiveness
  • Will not get ovarian or uterine cancer
  • Will not have dangerous uterine infections
  • Will be less likely to fight with other animals.

What are the advantages of neutering male cats and dogs?

  • Will not be able to reproduce
  • Will be less likely to mark territory by urinating or spraying
  • Will be less likely to exhibit aggressive behaviors that stem from sexual tendencies
  • Will be less likely to roam and get into fights
  • Will not get testicular tumors; will have less prostate inflammation
  • Will reduce inappropriate behavior like “humping” on humans.

At what age should my pet be spayed or neutered?

On average, cats and dogs are spayed or neutered at between 5 and 9 months of age.  Depending upon their size, some puppies and kittens may be safely sterilized when they’re as young as 8 weeks old. In fact, puppies and kittens recover more quickly from surgery than do adult dogs and cats. In addition, sterilizing female puppies and kittens before they are 4 months old will assure that they will not have a first heat cycle.

How do I know if my dog’s in heat?

A dog’s heat cycle can begin as early as 5 months of age; the average age is between 6 and 9 months. She will stay in heat for approximately 21 days. During her heat cycle, she will

    • pass blood from the genital area
    • become irritable and lose her appetite
    • urinate more frequently.

How do I know if my cat’s in heat?

Cats can come into heat as young as 4 ½ months of age. Cats come into heat every 21 days, from February through October in our region. A female cat will stay in heat for approximately one week. Cats kept indoors may come into heat all year long. During her heat cycle, she will

    • yowl or vocalize loudly and frequently
    • roll on the floor
    • stand with her rear end higher than her front end
    • indoor cats will attempt to escape to the outside

What do I need to do while my pet is in heat?

While your pet is in heat, she must be carefully confined. Most fences will not provide sufficient protection from determined males! Male dogs will be attracted to her for up to 5 miles around your house. Male dogs and cats can create a nuisance if they are in close proximity to a female in heat.

How old is too old to have my dog or cat altered?

Pets are never too old to have litters. Dogs and cats that are sterilized have a greatly reduced risk of testicular and ovarian tumors in later years of life. If your pet is over 7, we advise your pet have blood work done at your veterinarian’s office to make sure your pet is healthy enough for anesthesia. Extra precautions are taken with older dogs to ensure they are handled with special care. Older pets will take longer to get back to their normal routine.

Will the surgery be painful?

Spaying and neutering are performed under general anesthesia. Some  animals will have some discomfort following their surgery, and pain medications may be prescribed.

Your pet may lick at the incision. If so, ask your vet for advice. Pets will need to be kept in a dry place and have limited exercise following surgery.


Common Myths About Spaying and Neutering

“I’m sure I can find good homes for all of my dog’s puppies.”

Even if you allow your pet to reproduce on purpose, their kittens or puppies are just as likely to end up in an animal shelter as any others. This adds to shelter overcrowding and, unfortunately, to many otherwise-adoptable pets having to be put down each year. You also can’t be sure the puppies’ or kittens’ new owners will spay or neuter them, and an unaltered pet is at the highest risk for ending up in an animal shelter. Without a doubt, spaying and neutering helps reduce the number of unwanted animals that must be put down each year.

“My pet should come in heat before she can be spayed.”

It is actually better for her to be spayed before her first cycle; it will reduce the chances that she will develop certain serious health issues later in life.

“My pet will get fat and lazy.”

The decrease in an animal’s hormone level that’s caused by spaying or neutering can indeed result in a slower metabolism. If so, you’ll need to adjust your pet’s diet accordingly. However, when sterilized at a young age, most animals will continue to stay active and not gain excess weight.

“My dog will not guard my home after having the surgery.”

Most dogs are naturally territorial, and spaying or neutering will not change that instinct. The only behaviors that will change are those controlled by the sex hormones.

It is particularly recommended that an aggressive animal be neutered or spayed to help reduce that behavior. However, sterilization may not stop it altogether, because aggressive tendencies can be caused by the environment or a lack of training, rather than by hormonal reasons.

“It costs too much.”

Fees vary, depending upon where you have your pet altered, whether it’s male or female, its size, and other factors. It’s a one-time only cost that will save you money over the lifetime of your pet by lowering it’s risk of developing certain serious health problems.  We work hard to offer assistance programs to our community…  If you can afford more than you are asked to pay, please help others by making a donation—any donation helps!

If you are not in our area contact one of the resources below

  • CAIT’s Toll-Free Help Line: Tennessee residents, are you looking for spay or neuter services in your area? Call our new toll-free help line for information, at 1-866-907-7729 (SPAY)

Spay/Neuter Information

  • The Feral Cat Spay/Neuter Project: A non-profit organization made up of veterinarians and other volunteers dedicated to ending the suffering of homeless cats and providing information about feral cat trap/alter/release programs.


Please call (865)215-6677 to schedule an appointment, or for more information about our spay/neuter programs.