Despite proof based on scientific research, assurances by vets, and daily reminders from Bob Barker, too many people still question the ethics of, and need for, spaying and neutering cats. In rescue, we see the heart-wrenching side of cat overpopulation. The cats dropped off by their family members, who are so devastated that they stop eating. The thousands of stray cats that roam our streets. Some are newly discarded pets, some are feral. They live short and brutal lives. They are dirty, hungry, cold. They are scared because many people view them as pests and hurt them. Some are poisoned. Some live with painful injuries. Many spend their days fighting to survive. The lucky ones are rescued and re-homed. The unlucky ones have their lives cut short by predators, cars, and people. By spaying and neutering, we can help put an end to this.
Although cats are very maternal, and there are many stories of felines risking their own lives to save their kittens, the belief that they will somehow benefit from experiencing motherhood is very misguided. They go through the birthing process, they care for their kittens for approximately eight weeks, then their kittens are taken away, and are typically never seen again. Because cats, like many other animals, live in the moment this experience will not be something they look back on fondly. They won’t reminisce about the good old days when the kids were still living at home. Their lives will not be enhanced in any way.
That “one litter” can easily produce five kittens, and litters in the double digits are not unheard of. You may find homes for them all, but chances are that at least a couple of them will not be fixed and they’ll reproduce, and a couple more will be abandoned at some point in their life. So now your “one litter” has put a few more cats in the already overcrowded shelters, and a few more have been condemned to harsh life on the street. One cat alone can easily be responsible for the birth of forty cats within a two year period. 10 unfixed cats can result in 400 cats, 100 cats can result in 4,000 cats, and so on. Many of them will not have a happy ending, but it doesn’t have to be this way. A quick trip to the vet for a routine spay/neuter is all it takes to break this pattern of reproduction.
Yes, spaying and neutering your cats will change their personality. Unfixed cats are driven by hormones. Females in heat are restless, anxious, and loud. They attract every unneutered male in your vicinity. Unneutered males can become frustrated and aggressive, are more likely to become territorial by spraying around the house, and will fight any male that they may encounter. So yes when you have your cat spayed or neutered they calm down, become more relaxed, better pets, and their activity level will go down. There is no need for them to become overweight though. All they need is a proper diet and regular exercise. There are many foods that are made specifically for indoor cats. For exercise, all you need is a laser pointer to give them a good workout!
There are also health benefits associated with spaying and neutering. Spayed females are about 40 to 60% less likely to get mammary cancer than their unspayed counterpart. Spaying eliminates the possibility of reproductive tract tumours and any chance of developing an infection in the reproductive tract. This is known as pyometra and can be fatal. Cats that mate or fight are more likely to contract feline leukemia (FeLV) or feline AIDS (FIV). Both of these diseases are specific to cats, and both are incurable. Spaying or neutering your kitty greatly reduces their risk of ever contracting either of these diseases.
Of course, there are always risks with any surgery, but when you consider that approximately 3.4 million cats end up in US shelters every year, the decision seems so simple. You will never hear an individual involved in rescue say,”Yes you should definitely let your cat have a litter of kittens. We have a shortage of cats at the moment!”.
If you need financial assistance getting your cat fixed, reach out to your local shelter, rescue group or vet. Many communities offer low-cost spay/neuter programs, you just need to ask. Most groups will do everything they can to help with this. And if you have a feral cat colony in your neighbourhood you can also contact your local shelter/rescue group to see if they are able to assist with having these cats spayed/neutered as well. Spay/neuter is a proven way to reduce pet overpopulation, ensuring that every pet has a family to love them. One small action on our part is all it takes to help our feline friends live the longest, healthiest and happiest life possible.
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