A consensus seems to exist that it is desirable to increase the proportion of cats in the United States that are neutered, and a growing number of jurisdictions are enacting legislation in an attempt to effectuate this policy objective. However, limited empirical data exist to inform legislative choices. Not surprisingly, therefore, existing legislation varies widely both with respect to the actors targeted and the mechanisms employed. Some jurisdictions, for example, have enacted laws mandating that all owners of cats neuter their animals unless they purchase a permit to own or breed sexually intact animals.1 Others require cat owners to purchase licenses for their cats but charge differential fees for neutered or sexually intact cats.2,3 Some jurisdictions have opted for incentives, instead of owner sanctions, to raise neuter rates by, for instance, using public funds to offset the costs of neuter surgery for low-income residents.4–6 A number of jurisdictions, meanwhile, have targeted animal control facilities and shelters, requiring them to neuter animals prior to adoption.7–9
The lack of information on population characteristics, including neuter status, of cats living in households in the United States makes it impossible to predict the effectiveness of these or other legislative approaches. The purpose of the study reported here therefore was to gather data on cats living in US households, document neuter status of those cats, and identify demographic characteristics of respondents (eg, gender, age, annual family income, and education level) associated with neuter status. The study was conducted as a random-digit-dial telephone survey with participants chosen to be representative of the population of the continental United States.
RI Gen Laws §4–24–3 (2008).
Los Angeles County Code, 10.90.010(VI)(B) (2008).
Sacramento City Code, article IV, §9.44.440(A)(4) (2008).
La Rev Stat Ann §47:463.60 (2008).
NJ Rev Stat §4:19A–2 (2008).
NY Agric & Mkts §117-a (Consol 2008).
Calif Food & Agric Code §31751.3, 31760 (Deering 2008).
Ga Code Ann §4–14–3 (2008).
Tex Health & Safety Code Ann §828.002 (Vernon 2007).
Alexander CH. A model-based justification for survey weights, in Proceedings. Surv Res Methods Sect Am Stat Soc Annu Meet 1997;183–188.
American Pet Products Manufacturers Association. 2007–2008 APPMA national pet owners survey. Greenwich, Conn: American Pet Products Manufacturers Association Inc, 2008.
New JC Jr, Salman MD, King M, et al. Characteristics of shelter-relinquished animals and their owners compared with animals and their owners in US pet-owning households. J Appl Anim Welf Sci 2000;3:179–201.