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Spay/Neuter Is Key

Why Spay/Neuter?     •    Reproduction Facts     •    Spay/Neuter Myths Debunked    •   Spay/Neuter Advantages    •   Concerned About a Feral Cat or Barn Cat Colony?    •   Need Financial Assistance?    •   Spay/Neuter Links

Why Spay/Neuter?

Photo: Nitro and twofriends are kittens

Hundreds of great reasons to spay or neuter your pet were killed in animal shelters yesterday. Equally horrifying, many more animals are leading lives of quiet desperation as strays.

The Best Response to Pet Overpopulation is—Turn Off the Faucet!

It is truly a national tragedy that millions of animals are killed each year simply because no one wants them. It costs government agencies upwards of $176 to capture, house, feed, and eventually kill each homeless animal.

Spread the word that when acquiring an animal, you assume sole responsibility for her. Much like children, animals depend on us to keep them happy, healthy, and safe. Be part of the solution instead of part of the problem.

Have a heart.

Spay/Neuter is the single most important thing you can do to make a difference.

Reproduction Facts

Spaying refers to the surgical removal of a female companion animal’s uterus and ovaries. The human equivalent is an ovario-hysterectomy. Females who have been spayed cannot have babies.

They no longer secrete the hormones that regulate their reproductive readiness. Heat cycles bring hormonal changes that can lead to personality changes.

Neutering refers to the surgical removal of a male companion animal’s testicles. Castration is another term for the same thing. (The word “neuter” is sometimes used as a gender-free term. So are the words “fixed,” “sterilized,” and “altered.”)

Males who have been neutered cannot manufacture sperm.

Grafix: two cats in bed and one says :That's impossibe, I've been neutered
Grafix: cat in male clothing "If your cat won't wear a condom get him fixed

In reality, neutering a male is similar to spaying a female. The gonads are in different locales and the surgical procedure is different, but the end result is the same—no more reproduction.

•  Female dogs go into heat every six months usually starting at six months of age.

•  Starting at five or six months of age, female cats go into heat usually twice monthly resulting in constant “mate attracting vocalizations,” as well as territorial urine marking.

•  Dogs and cats are pregnant for 63 days.

•  Nursing dogs and cats CAN get pregnant.

•  Spay/neuter is a one-time expense that will result in a healthier and happier companion animal.

Spay/Neuter Myths Debunked

MYTH—Animals who have been sterilized get fat and lazy.  Sterilizing an animal does decrease his or her metabolic rate. That is why this is the perfect time to switch from a high-energy puppy/kitten food to a diet designed for adults. After spaying or neutering an adult animal, feed a diet appropriate to his or her life cycle. Over-feeding and lack of exercise are the cause of obesity, not sterilizing!

MYTH—Males don’t need to be neutered because they aren’t the ones having the litters.  Believe it or not, this is the most prevalent spay/neuter myth. Immaculate conception, however, does not explain canine and feline pregnancies! One un-neutered male can impregnate hundreds of female animals in the time it takes one litter of kittens or puppies to be born.

•  For some men, anything to do with “between their legs” is sacred ground, especially for their faithful hunting dog or tough tomcat. For individuals who have a need for cosmetic reinforcement, there are synthetic scrotal implants that can restore that “stud-ly” look.

•  BTW, studies show that the majority of dog bites are made by intact, untrained male dogs.

Photo: Kenobe the black kitten
Grafix: Teach them about spay/neuter

MYTH—Females need to have one litter before being spayed.  There is no medical support for this. Some people refuse to spay/neuter because they think it would be “nice” for their pet to have puppies or kittens.

Keep in mind that every responsible home found means one less home available to the many shelter animals hoping for adoption. Each day animal shelters are forced to kill thousands of dogs and cats for lack of responsible homes.

MYTH—Sterilization is cruel.  Spay and neuter surgical procedures are done under general anesthesia.

MYTH—Preventing animals from having litters is unnatural.  We’ve already interfered with nature by domesticating dogs and cats several thousands of years ago. In doing so, we created the tragedy of pet overpopulation. We now have the responsibility to solve it.

MYTH—Neutering male cats causes urethral obstructions which can lead to death.  Exhaustive studies have indicated that urethral obstructions are not affected by whether a cat has been neutered or not.

MYTH—Spay/neuter is unnecessary for purebreds because they are in great demand.  One out of every four animals brought to animal shelters is a purebred.

MYTH—The cost of surgery is too high. Costs tend to be higher in cities and lower in rural areas. If you believe that a spay or neuter surgery costs too much, how do you plan to pay for quality pet food and routine medical care?

MYTHPets lament their lost capability to reproduce. Pets do not nurture their young for 18 years, watch them go off to college or whatever, marry, and produce grandchildren. Dogs and cats nurse their young for a few weeks, teach them to behave like dogs and cats, and go on with their lives.

(Males know next to nothing of what we humans call fatherhood. They rarely recognize puppies and kittens as their own.)

Photo: Lily's four kittens

Spay/Neuter Advantages

Photo:  Pat's kitties.

•  Females spayed before their first heat have a lower chance of developing mammary tumors as they age. The possibility of uterine or ovarian cancer is eliminated.

•  Neutered males have a lower chance of developing prostate infections. They won’t develop testicular cancers.

•  Females will no longer go into heat, eliminating the probability of getting blood stains on your couch, floor, bed, etc. when your female has her heat cycle.

•  Both sexes experience less of a need for territorial marking behavior.

•  Both sexes experience a decrease in the urge to roam.

•  Both sexes become more docile and easier to train.

•  The personality of both males and females usually improves because they don’t have to spend so much time and energy seeking a mate. Neutering will make your pet more affectionate and devoted to you.

•  Younger, smaller pets cost less to alter as less anesthesia is necessary.

•  Neutering lessens your dog’s temptation to fall in love with your guest’s legs.

•  Neutered males tend to become less aggressive and experience a decrease in the incidence of fighting.

•  City pet licenses for altered animals are available at a significantly reduced cost.

•  Having fewer animals in animal shelters will increase their chances of being adopted into appropriate homes and lifestyles.

•  A reduced pet population will bring greater respect to (and place a higher value on) animals who currently are deemed “disposable.”

•  You will (we hope!) gain great satisfaction in knowing you have been part of the solution to pet overpopulation, rather than part of the problem.

Photo: 56 black and white kittens

Concerned about a Growing Feral Cat (or Barn Cat) Colony?

Graphic: Feral is not an exotic breed of cat

E-mail us and we’ll discuss your concerns and strategize with you to see how we can all pitch in and do something.

We have a collection of articles about Trap/Neuter/Release (some are peer-reviewed) that speak to all sides of this issue.

Florence Unash Neuter Program

Thanks to a generous bequest from the estate of local animal lover Florence Unash, the JCHS Unash Neuter Program helps pay for the spaying and neutering of cats and dogs belonging to residents of Johnson County who qualify financially.

• The qualification process has been carefully designed to respect and protect the privacy of the information applicants are asked to provide.

Download the application form or e-mail us if you would like to apply for funds. Or you pick up a Unash application at the Iowa City Animal Care & Adoption Center. Call 356-5295 for their hours.

The Unash Neuter Application is a PDF file.
If you don’t already have Adobe’s Acrobat Reader, download it for free.
Graphic: Get Adobe Reader

You May Qualify for Spay/Neuter Financial Assistance

Grafix: Iowa Humane Alliance logo

Other Regional Spay/Neuter Resources

Iowa Humane Alliance (IHA)—6540 6th St SW, Cedar Rapids, IA <>. Iowa’s first regional, non-profit, high quality, low-cost spay/neuter clinic! Founded by Mary Blount (one of our board members at the time), Mary worked for five years to establish and open IHA.

We feel lucky to have this resource and are very grateful for Mary’s work. So far this year, (2018 mid-march) they’ve fixed 2,000 animals. To get your cat, dog, or rabbit scheduled for a spay/neuter appointment, call:  319-363-1225.

Spay Neuter Assistance for Pets (SNAP) offers spay/neuter subsidies through participating veterinarians to qualifying individuals who live in (or adjacent to) Muscatine County, Iowa. Call 563-264-2370 for more information.

Spay/Neuter Links

Friends of Animals (FoA)—1-800-321-PETS—follow FoA’s link to their Spay/Neuter Program

Iowa Humane Alliance—this group provides a network of support for other Eastern Iowa humane organizations committed to eliminating the pressing problem of domestic animal overpopulation.

National Council on Pet Population Study & Policy (NCPPSP)—consists of humane organizations, breeder groups, and veterinary associations brought together to work on mutual goals regarding the surplus of pet animals

SPAY/USA Network—1-800-248-SPAY

Grafix: two Victorian cats playing at kitten making

Last update: 02/09/19


Contact Us at

JCHS  •  P.O. BOX 2775  •  IOWA CITY, IA  52244-2775

NOTE that we are a small group of volunteers, most of whom work during the day. We will get back to you as soon as we can.



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