Common Questions About Spaying and Neutering

Q: What is spaying and neutering?

A: Spaying and neutering are common surgical procedures performed by veterinarians. These surgeries prevent dogs and cats from producing litters of puppies or kittens.


Q: What happens during a spay surgery?

A: During a spay surgery, a female animal has her ovaries, fallopian tubes and uterus removed.


Q: What happens during a neuter surgery?

A: During a neutering surgery, a male animal’s testicles are removed.


Q: Shouldn’t I allow my female pet to have one litter before spaying her?

A: No. There is no medically proven benefit. Spaying a pet before her first heat can significantly decrease her risk of breast cancer and provide other health and behavior benefits (links to 2.4: Benefits of Spaying and Neutering).


Q: Why should I neuter my male pet if he can’t give birth?

A: It’s simple: It takes two to tango! Neutering males also has many health and behavior benefits.


Q: How old should my pet be to have spay or neuter surgery?

A: Kittens and puppies can be safely spayed or neutered at 8 weeks of age. Optimally female pets should be spayed before their first heat – as early as 6 months of age for dogs and 5 months of age for cats.


Q: Can pregnant cats and dogs be spayed?

A: Yes. Spaying during pregnancy is slightly more difficult. But it is better than producing more animals who could potentially end up in shelters and be euthanized.


Q: Can cats be spayed if they are nursing kittens?

A: Yes. A cat who is spayed while she is nursing will continue to produce adequate milk for her kittens. Some veterinarians prefer to wait until a cat has weaned her kittens before doing the surgery because the mammary gland (breast) development present during nursing can make the surgery slightly more difficult. 


Q: At what age do unspayed female cats and dogs stop giving birth?

A: Unlike humans, cats and dogs do not go through “menopause.” While fertility may gradually decline over time, there is no point at which they can no longer become pregnant.


Q: Can siblings from the same litter mate produce litters?

A: Yes. For this reason, male and female littermates who are housed together must be neutered and spayed by four months of age!


Q: How much does spaying and neutering cost?

A: The cost varies depending on the species, gender, and size of your pet. Many low-cost clinics and programs in the Sacramento Area are available to help make this important procedure more affordable.