Cat and dog with red heart

What do you think of when you think of February? More winter? Valentine’s Day? Love, hearts, chocolate, flowers, romance? Well, for our furry love-bugs, February is officially National Spay and Neuter Awareness month – make the time to take the edge of those “fur”omones!!

There are lots of good reasons to spay/neuter your pet as soon as your vet says it is medically possible.  Female dogs can inadvertently slip their collar when outside, or otherwise slip away from our control (or your dog walker’s control) and when in heat, can run away to “scratch that itch”. And male animals take quick action on that front!  Any unspayed or unneutered animal, cats included, can be harder to control when the urge takes hold, and can more readily become an escape artist despite our best efforts (or our dog walker’s or our cat sitter’s best efforts, as well).

While most pet owners take responsibility to manage their pets, there are animals running around that contribute to the over population of street animals. Sadly, this may be because animals are simply abandoned as part of an unwanted litter or because their owner is no longer in a position to take care of the animal. A fact to consider: about 2.4 million healthy, adoptable cats and dogs—about one every 13 seconds—are put down in U.S. shelters each year (Humane Society of the United States). In the first half of 2015,

Chicago Animal Care and Control (CCAC) stats show that CCAC was able to reduce humane euthanasia by 27% over 2014 numbers by working to promote adoptions, transfers to humane societies and reuniting pets with their owners.

In addition to not adding to the population of unwanted animals running around, spaying & neutering has other benefits. While it’s true that any dog or cat can spray, it is typically unneutered cats & dogs that mark their territory by spraying urine – according to the US Humane Society, neutering (of cats) solves 90 percent of all marking issues and spaying or neutering your dog should reduce urine-marking, and may stop it altogether. After a cat or dog has begun to mark their territory, it may become necessary to start on a behavior modification program to eliminate the marking– far easier to nip it in the bud, before it becomes a problem – again, check with your vet for the best time to spay/neuter your pet.

Spaying & neutering can also provide a bit of insurance towards disease prevention and a healthier, longer life for your pet.  Spayed & neutered animals are less likely to end up with reproductive health problems such as uterine infections or testicular cancers. As well, with the reduced urge to roam, there is less likelihood of aggression, biting, fighting, getting out and about on the street and hit by cars, or into garbage.  According to the website, “altering your canine friend will increase his life an average of 1 to 3 years, felines, 3 to 5 years.” As with any type of people surgery, pet surgery in not 100% without risk, but the benefits of surgery to spay/neuter far outweigh the risk, and it  is a one of the easiest ways to protect our pets for the long-term.

While there are organizations that strive to find homes for unwanted animal populations, it is difficult to keep up with demand.  CACC’s goal is to “reduce the overall number of animals impounded each year… by (encouraging) aggressive spay neuter programs and responsible pet ownership.” Some clinics may be available to providelow cost & free spay/neutering to qualifying participants – in Chicago, you can check out

PAWS Chicago – The Lurie Spay/Neuter Clinic

3516 W. 26th Street
Chicago, IL 60623
Telephone: 773-521-SPAY (7729)

PAWS Chicago’s GusMobile

PETCO Foundation
11720 S. Marshfield Ave (at 119th Street)
Chicago, IL 60643
Telephone: 773-521-SPAY (7729)

Anticruelty Society Low Cost Spay/Neuter Clinic

157 W Grand Ave
Chicago, IL 60654
Telephone: (312) 644-8338

TreeHouse Humane Society BDVM Mac Lean Spay/Neuter Clinic

1629 N Ashland Ave
Chicago, IL 60622
Telephone: (773) 227-5535

Chicago Animal Care and Control

2741 S Western Ave
Chicago, IL 60608
Telephone: (312) 747-1406

Other organizations that are able to provide low cost solutions to spaying & neutering can be found at  or

All in all, there are many good reasons to spay/neuter your pet. And while February provides a reminder about spay/neuter programs, you and your vet can determine the best time to have this done – don’t wait until after your pet has gotten out and gotten frisky!!