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Home > Statistics > How Many Dogs & Cats are Neutered in Australia? 16 Statistics in 2024

How Many Dogs & Cats are Neutered in Australia? 16 Statistics in 2024

Australia Cat Dog Neutered Facts and Statistics

Note: This article’s statistics come from third-party sources and do not represent the opinions of this website.

Pet ownership is different in every country around the world. People’s attitudes to pets are influenced by culture, economics, and even the environment, and the same is true for Australia. Australia is a massive country with large cities, vast swathes of the outback, and reserves filled with wildlife, so pet ownership (particularly regarding neutering) is an interesting and complex subject to look at.

Parts of the country are incredibly strict regarding neutering. Some states made it mandatory for all kittens and puppies (very young ones) to be neutered, but the statistics related to neutering are surprising. We’ll look into how many cats and dogs are living in the country and how many are neutered, the reasons pet owners are neutering their pets, how old those pets are when neutered, and the impact on shelters and costs neutering has.

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Top 16 Dog & Cat Neutering Statistics in Australia

  1. 33 million dogs are owned in Australia.
  2. 81% of pet dogs in Australia are neutered.
  3. The average number of cats per household is 1.6.
  4. 89% of cats in Australia are neutered.
  5. Between 2020 & 2021, 15% of owners took their pets to be neutered.
  6. 71.4% of dog owners neutered their pets to prevent breeding.
  7. 63.3% of dog owners neutered their pets solely to improve behavior.
  8. Male cats are 0.6% more likely to be neutered than female cats.
  9. Purebred cats are 2.7 times less likely to be neutered early than mixed breeds.
  10. 30% of owned cats aren’t neutered before the age of 6 months.
  11. 34.2% of cats in Victoria were neutered under 4 months of age.
  12. 40% of vets believe prepubertal desexing is effective in reducing unwanted cats in Australia.
  13. 47.7% of dogs taken into RSPCA shelters were neutered.
  14. Only 41.2% of cats were neutered in RSPCA shelters.
  15. The average cost of neutering in Australia is between $200 & $500 AUS.
  16. The cost of registering a neutered dog in Sydney is 29.4% cheaper than an unneutered dog.
AUSTRALIA_CAT_&_DOG_NEUTERING_FACTS_&_STATISTICS
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How Many Dogs & Cats Are Neutered

1. 6.33 million dogs are owned in Australia.

(Statista)

Australia is a nation of dog lovers, with nearly half of all Australian homes housing a canine. This equates to 48% of ALL Australians having a dog, which is almost half their population! Dog owners in Australia also have the means to look after their dogs; each dog-owning home has an average income (adjusted for household size) of $60,000 AU.

An australian shepherd dog is running on a green meadow in a dog zone
Image Credit: TeamDAF, Shutterstock

2. 81% of pet dogs in Australia are neutered.

(AMA 1)

Animal Medicines Australia (AMA) collected data on desexing and microchipping on dogs and cats; it showed that the percentage of dogs neutered in the country has risen since 2016. In 2016, 77% of dogs were reported as neutered, meaning an increase of 4% has been noted in 6 years. This might be due in part to the laws surrounding neutering in some jurisdictions, including South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory (more on that below).


3. The average number of cats per household is 1.6.

(Statista)

The number of cats owned by Australian households is rising. In 2019, a reported 1.4 families owned a cat, with Statista reporting a 0.2% increase in 2021 to 1.6. This equates to 27% of all Australian households, or 3.8 million owned cats, but the population of feral or unowned cats is a lot larger. In addition, 43% of households have also owned a cat at some point in their lives (AMA 1).


4. 89% of cats in Australia are neutered.

(AMA 1)

Interestingly, while the percentage of dogs neutered in Australia between 2016 and 2021 increased, the number of cats stayed the same. This number is higher than in dogs, possibly because of the programs that exist to try and curb the rapid growth and spread of feral cat populations, which are negatively affecting Australian wildlife. Feral cats reportedly kill 390 mammals, 130 birds, and 225 reptiles in Australia every year (Smithsonian).

Cat Spaying
Image Credit: Motortion Films, Shutterstock

5. Between 2020 & 2021, 15% of owners took their pets to be neutered.

(AMA 2)

The pandemic affected dog and cat neutering in Australia, but it might not be the effect you would expect. Vet visits for cats and dogs actually increased for some owners (14%) between 2020 and 2021. However, the majority (63%) saw no change in frequency. Of these visits, neutering cats and dogs accounted for 15% of all vet visits, making neutering the third most popular reason for pets being taken to the vet during this time, behind vaccination at 40% and general check-ups at 38%.

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Reasons for Neutering

6. 71.4% of dog owners neutered their pets to prevent breeding.

(Research Gate)

A survey undertaken by vet medicine students on male and female owners in Australia identified reasons for owners wanting or not wanting to neuter their dogs. Thirty-five responses denoted unwanted litters as their reason for getting their dog fixed, but interestingly, more male participants thought that not being able to have puppies was a negative outcome of neutering compared to female participants (37.5% to 12.8% respectively).


7. 63.3% of dog owners neutered their pets solely to improve behavior.

(Research Gate)

The survey and study also identified expected outcomes from the participant’s dog’s neutering. 56.8% of respondents answered that improved behavior was a positive outcome of neutering that they didn’t necessarily think about before the procedure, and 63.3% of owners neutered their dogs precisely for this reason. Additionally, 36.7% of owners expected improved behavior from the procedure, while a quarter (25.7%) stated they didn’t expect improved behavior to occur at all after neutering.

Dog Spaying
Image Credit: Kyla Metzker, Shutterstock

8. Male cats are 0.6% more likely to be neutered than female cats.

(Nature)

In a study of 52,941 cats born between 2010 and 2017, 87% of the male cat group were neutered. In contrast, 26,348 female cats were neutered, equating to 81% of the female cat group. This disparity could be because of how male cats are neutered compared to females, with gonadectomy (surgical removal of the testicles) being a rapid procedure with a quick healing time.


9. Purebred cats are 2.7 times less likely to be neutered early than mixed breeds.

(Nature)

The study also revealed that purebred cats were less likely to be neutered than mixed breeds (or moggies). Purebred cats comprised 10,411 of the total number in the study, with 83.4% being neutered (8682 cats in total), whereas the remainder (41,702) were mixed breeds. 84.8% of these were neutered, totaling 35,563 cats. In addition, 15% of these purebred cats were neutered early, at under 4 months old, compared to 25% of mixed-breed cats.


10. 30% of owned cats aren’t neutered before the age of 6 months.

(RSPCA 1)

The RSPCA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) Australia has detailed that at least 1,140,000 owned cats in the country are unaltered. 30% of the estimated 3.3–3.8 million cats owned as pets are not desexed, despite it being mandatory in some states. Victoria is not a mandatory desexing state, but the RSPCA in the state aims to neuter all owned and semi-owned cats. This is ambitious, as there are an estimated 300,000 feral cats in Victoria alone!

vet. holding kittens
Image Credit: beton studio, Shutterstock

11. 34.2% of all cats in Victoria were neutered under 4 months of age.

(Nature)

Differences in a pet’s age when it’s neutered relating to geographical location in Australia are interesting. In Victoria, for example, there were 3,589 neutered cats included in a study. Of these, 34.2% were neutered at the earliest age recommended by desexing programs, under 4 months old. This equates to 1,227 cats in Victoria neutered at under 4 months. In comparison, the state with the highest number of neutered cats was Queensland (5,833 cats), but only 16.4% of cats were neutered at under 4 months old. Interestingly, the percentage of cats neutered across all six states surveyed leveled out at 2 years of age or older at around 95%.


12. 40% of vets believe prepubertal desexing is effective in reducing unwanted cats in Australia.

(NCBI)

Prepubertal desexing (PD) is neutering an animal at a young age, specifically before they reach puberty. This has been written in the law in some states in Australia since 2001, so researchers carried out a national survey to report what veterinarians themselves thought of it. Many who answered actually didn’t practice PD, but 77% of respondents gave a positive answer when asked if they thought PD makes a difference to cat populations. However, only 40% gave a definitive “definitely,” and the remaining 37% responded “maybe.”

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Shelter Neutering & Cost

13. 47.7% of dogs taken into RSPCA shelters were neutered.

(Frontiers)

In a study looking at veterinary professional’s attitudes towards early neutering, researchers found that despite blanket laws regarding the early desexing of cats and dogs, only 278 out of 587 dogs at the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) RSPCA  shelter were already neutered (47.7%). However, in a larger group of dogs from the New South Wales (NSW) branch of the RSPCA, 40.9% of dogs admitted were. This shows some differences in neutering trends in different areas of the country, as dogs admitted to shelters in the ACT shelter were significantly more likely to be neutered.

Dogs in shelter
Image Credit: Africa Studio, Shutterstock

14. Only 41.2% of cats were neutered in RSPCA shelters.

(Frontiers)

Similarly to our last stat, the ACT shelter (one of only two shelters in the area that accepts both dogs and cats) saw 316 cats neutered out of the 767 admitted (41.2%). In the NSW branch, 38.7% of cats were neutered, or 2,468 cats out of 6,378, meaning not even half of the adult cats admitted were neutered despite ACT and NSW legislation making it mandatory.


15. The average cost of neutering in Australia is between $200 and $500 AUS.

(RSPCA Pet Insurance)

While putting a figure on the costs of neutering can be difficult due to all the variables, RSPCA Australia has given us a solid estimate. Of course, there are differences in geographical location, but the main variation in cost is caused by the pet’s species size, age, and gender. Most puppies and kittens are now routinely neutered under the age of 6 months. This can help lower the costs, but the best way to get the cheapest neutering cost in Australia is by using one of their low-cost desexing programs. Eligibility notwithstanding, these programs help pet owners cover the cost of spaying and castration for their pets, meaning they avoid paying hefty fines (of up to $5,000 AUS!) for non-compliance (Lawhandbook).


16. The cost of registering a neutered dog in Sydney is 29.4% cheaper than an unneutered dog.

(City of Sydney)

Alongside fines for non-compliance, the states set additional charges depending on the neutering status of pets. Owners must register their dogs in Australia, which usually means a one-off “lifetime” registry fee of differing amounts. This is $69 AUS for desexed dogs under 6 months old in Sydney and $234 AUS if desexed after 6 months old or not neutered at all. Cats are also charged, but alongside the lifetime registration fee of $59 AUS, non-neutered cats have to pay an annual charge of $80 to remain registered and avoid fines.

woman on the couch registering her dog online
Image Credit: Andrey_Popov, Shutterstock

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FAQ

What is Desexing Legislation?

Desexing (or neutering) legislation and laws are rules that dog and cat owners must follow if they want to keep them in certain states. In Australia, four out of the eight states have dictated some restrictions on pets in the area. Some are cat-only (such as Tasmania), and some are both. We’ve created a table below to outline the laws and their origins in each state (Research Gate):

State Rules and Legislation on Neutering?
Australian Capital Territory Yes. It’s an offense to own an unneutered dog over 6 months old or an unneutered cat over 3 months old (without a permit). (Section 24: Domestic Animals Act 2000)
Northern Territory No restrictions
New South Wales No restrictions
Tasmania Cats only. All cats must be neutered over 6 months of age. (Section 14: Cat Management Act 2009)
South Australia Yes. It’s an offense to own an unneutered dog or cat over 6 months old. (Section 42E: Dog and Cat Management Act 1995)
Victoria No restrictions
Western Australia Cats only. All cats must be neutered over 6 months of age. (Section 18: Cat Act 2011)

Why Does Australia Have Such Strict Neutering Laws?

The answer to why Australia has brought in these laws is simple and sad: to reduce the number of unwanted animals and euthanizations each year. The RSPCA Australia released figures for the 2021-22 year on dogs and cats, which stated that of 19,221 dogs received by the charity, 2,484 were euthanized. It’s a similar story for cats, as 6,506 cats were euthanized out of the 35,571 brought into the shelters. (RSPCA 2)

These are national numbers, but the country has deemed them unacceptable, and different states implemented legislation to curb unwanted litters and abandoned pets and promote more responsible ownership.

neutered cat sleeping
Image Credit: ozanuysal, Shutterstock

Does Australia Dislike Cats? Why Are There So Many Neutering Programs For Them?

Australians love cats! They’re the second most popular pet in the country, but cat owners and veterinary professionals recognize the problem with too many cats and too few owners. There is a huge feline overpopulation problem across the country, mostly of semi-feral and feral cat groups.

Because of the large territories with unneutered felines, feral cats cause a lot of damage to the natural ecosystem. Unfortunately, they contribute to the decline of some of Australia’s endangered indigenous wildlife.

In total, 1.5 billion native animals are killed by cats (both pet and feral) a year, so neutering programs offer low-cost incentives to owners. These programs aim to neuter as many cats as possible (ideally before they reach reproductive age), curbing the wandering urges and hunting instincts of owned cats and physically decreasing the population. (ANU)

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Conclusion

Australia is one of the most pet-crazy countries in the world, with millions of owners sharing their homes with dogs and cats. The sheer amount of pets and the destruction they can cause to the richly diverse wildlife in the country called for something to be done, not to mention the huge number of unwanted litters in shelters.

As a result, some states implemented strict rules for the early neutering of cats and dogs, some focused on cats, and some decided on other methods. Despite the differing legislation, it’s fascinating to look at these stats and see whether these rulings are making a difference.

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