Companion Animal Rescue Alliance 


DEFINITION:  The sterilization of female (spay) and male (neuter) animals is a surgical procedure performed by a qualified veterinarian. Spaying involves the removal of the ovaries and uterus and neutering involves the removal of the testicles. Other terms commonly used for sterilization are fixing or altering.

WHEN: The spaying and neutering of a pet should be done before it reaches sexual maturity. There are many schools of thought concerning the age that this surgery should be performed on a puppy or kitten. Twenty years ago it was believed that 6 months of age was a good age in general for both cats and dogs. Searching the internet gives a range of 8 weeks – 6 months for cats and 6 weeks – two years for dogs depending on size and breed. Below are links discussing spay/neuter ages for cats and dogs. A quick rule of thumb for cats is three months or three lbs. whichever comes first. Best Friends, a large rescue organization seen on Animal Planet has a slogan: “Prevent more, fix at month four” for both dogs and cats. Ultimately, the age to spay or neuter a pet is at the discretion of a qualified vet that you trust.

Below are links to different websites to help you decide when to Spay and Neuter: (some really funny videos)

WHY: The following is a list of reasons why your Cat or dog should be spayed or neutered. The list in most cases applies to cats but in a few instances can also apply to dogs as well. The links mentioned previously also discuss the “why” of spay/neuter.

• When females go into “heat”, they utter a deep loud cry. This is tolerable for the first heat cycle because the cries are infrequent; prompting the owner to assume that as long a kitty stays inside and does not get pregnant, they can deal with situation. For each heat cycle afterword, the cries become louder and more frequent. They can become continuous for 24 hours a day and last for 3 weeks. If kitty does not become pregnant, the heat cycle can start up again about a week after the previous one ends.
• The calls bring in all nearby male cats into your yard. Loud noises occur as they threaten and fight each other annoying the neighbors.
​• A bitch in heat will attract any stray dogs that will bark, defecate, and urinate all over your yard and your neighbor’s yard
• They try to make a dash for any open door
• They drip and spray
• Delayed spaying increases the chances of early cancer, especially breast cancer

• Unneutered male cats will fight with other males in your home including the neutered ones
• They will attempt to mate with any female cats spayed or not spayed. If the female is not interested a fight will break out.
• They will develop a urine odor that put bluntly, stinks
• They will make a dash for any open door
​• They will become belligerent upon seeing outdoor males.

​Sadly, many families do not realize how easy and important it is to neuter their family pet and decide to throw him or her away due to the unpleasant reasons listed above. This adds to the growing number of unwanted, homeless cats and dogs euthanized in shelters every day. Others roam the streets reproducing young where they will die an early death due to cars, poison, or large predators.

Veterinarians throughout the area are skilled at "High Quality High Volume" surgeries at low cost clinics.  The Maryland SPCA has compiled a list of local Maryland clinics here

Additional area low cost clinics include:

* A tip about FEral cats

If working on a TNR project and the subject cats that are being spayed and neutered will be returned to a colony outside, please ensure to request an "ear tip" which will designate to other trappers, veterinarians, and Animal Control agencies that the cat has already been sterilized and given at least one Rabies vaccination.