Despite being routinely recommended by veterinarians, neutering of dogs and cats has both positive and negative impacts on animal welfare and is ethically problematic. We examined attitudes of a sample of the UK public towards routine neutering of dogs and cats using a questionnaire. Respondents indicated their level of agreement with statements describing welfare and ethical reasons ‘for’ and ‘against’ the neutering of male and female dogs and cats. We conducted a general linear model (GLM) analysis to investigate the effects of demographic factors on agreement scores. Respondents (n = 451) expressed views both supporting and opposing neutering. The predominant view (>80%) supported neutering, justified primarily by prevention of unwanted offspring and reproductive diseases. Around 10% of the respondents disagreed and felt that neutering should only be done for medical reasons. Men were less likely than women to support neutering (p < 0.001). Those with meat reduction diets were more likely to be against neutering (p < 0.05) and cat owners supported neutering more than non-cat owners (p < 0.05). Although the data reflected a wide range of ethical views, our findings show that the UK public generally supports the routine neutering of dogs and cats. This insight has implications for future policy-making and compliance with veterinary advice.
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