Study: Household Income Strong Predictor Whether Cats Are Neutered

About 80 percent of cats living in U.S. households are neutered, according to a new study published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Assn.

The telephone survey of 1,205 adults, representing 850 cats, further revealed that annual family income was the strongest predictor of whether cats in the household were neutered, with middle- to higher-income households reporting rates of more than 90 percent.

The peer-reviewed study is said to be the first nationally representative study to thoroughly examine the correlation between income and neuter status. The study was based on data collected by Harris Interactive for the nonprofit group Alley Cat Allies.

“This study indicates that spaying and neutering is an accepted, established practice among the large majority of Americans with pet cats,” said Becky Robinson, president of Alley Cat Allies. “This is a very positive finding. As a result, our nation’s pet cats are living much healthier lives.”

The proportion of cats that were neutered differed significantly across annual family income groups:

  • 96.2 percent of cats in households with an income of $75,000 were neutered.
  • 90.7 percent of cats in households with an income of $35,000 to $74,999 were neutered.
  • 51.4 percent of cats in households with an income of less than $35,000 were neutered.

“Up until now, there has been a lot of speculation that income is a barrier for neuter in lower-income families, but now we have a scientific study establishing that this is the case nationally,” Robinson said.

Wendy Anderson, director of law and policy at Alley Cat Allies and co-author of the study, pointed out that the study includes only household cats.

“Previous research has shown there may be just as many stray and feral cats in the U.S. as pet cats, and most of these cats are intact and breeding,” Anderson said. “We need to enact smart policies and programs that expand the availability of low-cost, high-volume spay and neuter services, not only to serve lower-income pet owners, but to provide services for feral cats as well.”

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