Neutering is a simple operation which – by surgically removing the reproductive organs under general anaesthetic – prevents male and female animals from reproducing. In male animals the operation is called ‘castration’ and involves removing the testes. In female animals the operation is called ‘spaying’ and usually involves removing the uterus and ovaries.

The leading cat rescue charity, Cats Protection, has estimated that one unneutered female cat could be responsible for 20,000 kittens in just 5 years.

As well as preventing unplanned pregnancies and unwanted litters, having your pet neutered has many health benefits. It can vastly reduce the risk of contracting certain types of cancers, and can also help prevent aggression, roaming and hormonal problems.

Every year approximately 250,000 cats and dogs come in to rescue centres across the UK (Association of Dog and Cat Homes). We do not need to add to this problem by allowing more animals to breed. Please help us to eliminate the problem of homeless animals by having your pet neutered and encouraging others to do the same.

Neutering your cat

Every year Borders Pet Rescue finds homes for the many kittens that result from unplanned pregancies. Often the pregnant mother cat is rescued from a remote nesting site (under a shed or in farm buildings), remains unclaimed by the previous owners and gives birth whilst in our care. The added burden of these unwanted kittens is significant and avoidable. In extreme situations, and especially in our rural environment, these unplanned pregnancies result in new feral colonies which, if left unchecked, can grow very rapidly.

Traditionally both male and female cats have been neutered by vets at six months old, although many leading animal charities (including Cats Protection which neutered 158,000 cats in 2013) now support neutering kittens by four months of age. Where possible, all kittens from Borders Pet Rescue will be neutered before being rehomed. If the kitten hasn’t been neutered before leaving the centre we will ask the new owner to get it done at the earliest possible opportunity, and we will follow up the adoption to make sure it is done.

Why neuter?

There are many reasons why neutering is important and the benefits are not only for the cat but also for the owner.

Population control

It is important to neuter female cats before the first season in order to keep the population of cats under control. Cats have the potential to get pregnant again immediately after giving birth, in fact one un-neutered female cat can be responsible for 20,000 descendents in just five year (Cats Protection). It is a myth that all female cats should have at least one litter.

Control of nuisance

Female cats will call regularly and will attract entire males. Unneutered male cats are likely to stray over a large area, mark their territory and are much more likely to fight. They may also spray inside the home and may be aggressive to their owners.

Welfare issues

Unwanted kittens may not be cared for and are likely to suffer from various infectious diseases such as cat flu. These infections can rapidly spread through a feral colony and into the domestic population.

Health issues

Female cats which are not neutered are more likely to suffer from pyometra later in life. Queens with infectious diseases may pass these on to their kittens. Pregnancy and birth are also not without risk. Fighting males are much more likely to spread diseases such as FIV and FeLV to other cars. They are also likely to suffer from fight injuries such as abscesses. Because they wander over a large area they are also at greater risk of suffering road traffic accidents.

Rabbits

Unwanted rabbits are a big problem – about 35,000 rabbits end up in rescue centres nationally each year (Rabbit Welfare Association & Fund). If unneutered, it is possible for a female rabbit to have 150 young in one year.

Female rabbits (does) can become territorial and aggressive from sexual maturity onwards (4-6 months of age) whether with males, females or siblings. They have false pregnancies, growl, scratch and bite other rabbits or their owners. Spaying can reduce or remove these problems. Neutered female rabbits have a long life expectancy – up to 80% of un-spayed does develop uterine cancer by 5 years of age, spaying will prevent this completely.

Unneutered rabbits living together will breed or fight. Most unneutered males (bucks) are territorial, spray urine and can be aggressive. Neutered bucks are surprisingly happier and more relaxed, even if the operation is performed later in life.

Most importantly, rabbits are sociable animals that need the company of others. If you neuter your pets they will be able to have a companion without the risk of unwanted pregnancies or fighting.

So, if you love rabbits – get them neutered, then get them a companion and they will live longer, happier lives!

Dogs

There are many reasons why neutering is important and the benefits are not only for the dog, but also for you and for our society. Sadly, many thousands of dogs are still destroyed every year because there are not enough homes for all of them. So please help by neutering your dog.

Each year thousands of puppies end up in rescue centres across the UK – often the result of unplanned breeding. Whilst puppies may be easy to find homes for – they  are invariably cute and cuddly – many will find themselves back in a rescue centre once the novelty wears off. Many dogs that come into Borders Pet Rescue have already had 2 or 3 homes before they are finally given up.

Dogs can have up to 10 puppies in one litter and an un-neutered female dog can get pregnant again as soon as she comes back into heat (about every six months) so a single unneutered female can very soon be responsible for a large number of offspring. And remember that dogs do not recognise family relationships and brothers/sisters/mothers/fathers will mate with each other. Uncontrolled or irresponsible breeding combined with an increasing market for puppies being sold online has resulted in an increasing problem for the UK’s already stretched rescue centres.

Neutering can help with roaming, mounting of humans and other dogs, urine marking in the house and some forms of aggression. Roaming can be a serious problem in unneutered male dogs. They can smell a bitch in heat from a very long distance and when the hormones take over even the best trained dog may wander off. Even if separated, your dog will be able to smell the bitch in heat and this can cause of frustration and anxiety for up to three weeks which could result in significant behavioural changes.

There are several illnesses which are more commonly found in un-neutered dogs, womb infections and mammary cancer in females and testicular and prostate cancer in males – these are often fatal. The risk of these health problems significantly increases as dogs get older. Although treatable, these conditions are an unnecessary and reduceable risk.

There are several misconceptions about neutering which we need to dispel:

Dogs should experience motherhood before being spayed: There is no evidence that it is healthier for a dog to have a litter before being spayed. Female dogs can be spayed from around six months old and, for most breeds, there’s no benefit to waiting until they’ve had their first season

I would not like my testicles removed: Dogs do not have a human’s sense of “self” and will not be affected by the appearance of having them removed. They live in the moment and will not constantly be asking you why you did it!

You love your pet and want to breed another one just like it: There is no guarantee that your pet’s offspring will look or behave like your existing pet. Even if you keep one of the litter, you (or a rescue centre) will have many other puppies to rehome. Please visit your local rescue centre and find another dog to love!