Attitudes toward Spay Neuter in the US Population: Urban-Rural, Cat-Dog and Demographic Differences

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An online survey of 991 US adults examines differences in attitudes among the general US population toward spaying and neutering cats and dogs, with a focus on differences between urban and rural respondents and the influence of demographic characteristics. While current literature focuses on sterilization behaviors of guardians, this study will contribute to a better understanding of attitudes in the general population. Twelve items measure attitudes toward spay/neuter. Each item is analyzed with a separate multiple regression to understand urban–rural, cat–dog and demographic differences in attitudes. Results indicate fewer urban–rural and cat–dog differences than expected, though rural respondents are less likely to find the practice cruel, think animals should have a litter before sterilization, or support laws to require sterilization. People asked about dogs are more likely to agree that spay/neuter operations are expensive but are less likely to believe it “is the right thing to do” than those asked about cats. The most prevalent characteristics impacting attitudes are guardianship, age, and gender. Guardians are more likely to attribute positive health and behavioral outcomes to sterilization and feel that it is morally and socially positive. Compared with baby boomers, the Millennial generation (18–34) and Generation X (35–54) have less knowledge of sterilization and more concerns about its safety. Millennials are also less likely to find sterilization to be morally and socially positive. Women showed more support than men overall for sterilization as morally and socially positive and are more accepting of social and political management of sterilization. Overall, these findings highlight social support for spay/neuter, though less support for managing it with political intervention such as laws.


Sociology and Corrections

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