As cat lovers, we want to see cats living the best lives they can possibly live. Cats should be living in homes where they are loved, well cared for, and considered as part of the family. Some of us might even add that our kitties should be spoiled rotten! One way that each cat owner can do their part in helping every cat find a home is to spay or neuter their cats.
Feature Photo Credit: Nicklestar via Flickr
What are the spaying and neutering procedures?
The neuter procedure is done on male dogs and cats and removes the cat or dog’s testicles. Since the testicles lay outside the body’s main cavity, this procedure requires very little to no recovery time.
The spay procedure is done on females and consists of removing the ovaries and uterus of the cat or dog. This surgery requires an incision in the abdomen and thus carries a little more risk and recovery time than does the neuter procedure.
Both spaying and neutering are surgical procedures that result in the animal being unable to reproduce. Either procedure will only take minutes to perform when done by an experienced veterinarian. In most cases, your pet will go home with you that day.
Why is it so important?
In an ideal world, we wouldn’t have to put our pets through any medical procedures. There would be no homeless pets. People would all be great pet owners and do their part to control their pet’s reproduction. However, we don’t live in an ideal world – not even close.
According the Humane Society of the United States, every year 6 – 8 million dogs and cats enter shelters. Only 3 to 4 million dogs and cats are adopted from shelters every year, leaving the other 3 – 4 million pets homeless. Believe it or not, about 1/4 of all pets that come into shelters are purebred! Sadly, every year about 1/2 of all cats and dogs entering the shelters ( many of whom are healthy, good-mannered pets) are euthanized because no home can be found for them. American taxpayers pay $2 billion per year for the process of euthanizing all of those homeless pets.
What does this have to do with my cat?
Any extra kittens your cat could produce only worsens the situation for all of the already homeless cats. Each female cat can have 3 litters per year with an average of 4-6 kittens in each litter. Every female kitten in each litter can do the same thing. That amount of kittens adds up really quickly! Here’s an example: Let’s say that your female cat has a litter of 4 kittens in January. Half of the kittens are male and half are female. By May, both female kittens are in heat and the mother is in heat again too (which can happen as early as 2 weeks after giving birth). All 3 of these females get pregnant and by the end of July, they each give birth to 4 kittens. Now, in less than a year, you have 19 cats!
Note: Male cats are not off the hook. While a female can only have one litter at a time, a male can impregnate many female cats in a matter of hours!
Just imagine the impact all of those kitties will have on your wallet! Until you can rehome those kitties (which could be a bigger feat than you think), you will have to feed them, have enough litter and litter boxes for them, take them to their vet check-ups, handle any emergency medical needs, etc. The average cat owner spends $193 per year on regular vet visits. One litter of 6 kitties could be really expensive.
Concerns About Spaying or Neutering your Cat?
Always talk to your veterinarian about your concerns about your cat’s health, but spaying or neutering is a tried and true procedure. Even with all of the evidence that spay or neuter procedures are safe and effective, there are some myths floating around out there. Here is the truth (source):
- Neutered cats do not feel any less masculine. That is a part of the human psyche that doesn’t translate to cats.
- Having a litter of kittens does not make a female cat healthier. In fact, spayed female cats have a reduced chance of developing certain sex-organ related cancers.
- After being spayed or neutered, cats tend to stop spraying, humping, and fighting over mates. The loud crying of female cats in heat disappears when the cat is spayed too.
- Rehoming kittens is not as easy as it looks. If you allow your cat to become pregnant, be prepared to care for all of those cats.
- Spay or neuter does not cause personality changes or make your cat lazier.
- Your cat will not necessarily get fat because of the spay or neuter procedure. Helping your cat maintain a healthy weight requires feeding him/her a healthy, species-appropriate diet and helping them get the exercise they need.
Low-Cost Spay and Neuter Programs
If money is an issue for you, there are a lot of programs dedicated to helping you afford to spay or neuter your pet. Some of these programs will even offer free spay and neuter procedures while others charge very low fees or work on a sliding scale. Even if you had to pay full price, the spay or neuter procedure would cost less than caring for a litter of kittens. Use the widget below to find a low-cost spay/neuter program near you!