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Should You Spay or Neuter Your Cat?


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Up until the summer of 2017, all of my cats had come from San Francisco or Oakland, CA SPCA’s. I didn’t have to consider whether or not to sterilize my feline companions because most shelters around the country automatically spay or neuter their animals before they are put up for adoption. However, in August of 2017, a friend of mine asked if I’d be willing to take in another kitten. She knew I had just adopted a young cat several months earlier and that I was interested in getting a furry friend for my new companion. I leaped at the opportunity to save another life. The little one was 2 months old, adorable, and due to the fact that she was born and found outside by my friend, she was not spayed. I was initially heavily leaning toward getting her spayed, but I felt compelled to do my due diligence and research the specifics of why many veterinarians, animal shelters, animal advocacy groups, and even Bob Barker (remember the Price is Right?) maintain the importance of this practice.


Once I had consumed a multitude or articles on the subject, the choice for me remained clear: Yes! Absolutely spay or neuter your cat. The benefits to your cats overall health and the benefits to your community overall far outweigh the negatives. The main reasons for this are as follows:

  1. Spaying and neutering your cat lessens the burden on shelters around the country, where overpopulation leads to high instances of euthanasia.

  2. Spaying or neutering protects your furry friends health in a multitude of ways.

  3. Spaying or neutering can improve feline behavior.


Spaying and neutering your cat lessens the burden on shelters around the country, where overpopulation leads to high instances of euthanasia.

For me, the most compelling point is the idea of controlling pet overpopulation and homelessness. Shelter euthanasia is the number one killer of companion animals and an estimated 5-8 million animals are put down at shelters every year. The instinct to propagate the species is strong in cats, and females can be impregnated as young as 4 months old. With a gestation period of only 2 months, a female cat can produce quite a few offspring in her lifetime if not spayed. More specifically, one unspayed cat and her offspring can produce 11 million kittens over a 9-year lifespan. Male cats can begin impregnating female cats as young as 6 months old, and can impregnate many at the same time, again contributing to the problem of overpopulation and subsequent termination.


Spaying or neutering protects your furry friends health in a multitude of ways.

One point that I hadn’t considered prior to researching whether or not to sterilize my cat, was the issue of protecting your pet’s health. But all of the reading I did on the matter brought up this point. By spaying your female cat, you drastically reduce the chance of uterine infections and mammary cancer. Breast tumors are malignant 90% of the time in cats, so this is a significant factor. Neutering your male cat eliminates the chance of testicular cancer as well. Because an unsterilized male cat will have an urgent desire to roam in search of female cats, they are more likely to get into aggressive fights with other males outdoors and will be more likely to catch an illness such as Feline Leukemia or Feline Immunodeficiency Virus. This propensity to roam could also result in injury or death due to venturing into traffic accidentally.


Spaying or neutering can improve feline behavior.

Another interesting point that continued to come up throughout my research, was the probability of improving your cat’s behavior through sterilization. It sounds draconian as I write this, but the experts have valid reasoning. When a cat goes into heat, which can be as often as every 3 weeks, they will commonly yowl for several minutes at a time and often, especially at night. They will also urinate more frequently, often outside of their litter boxes, in an effort to mark territory. They can become highly anxious and irritable, and desperate to escape to the outdoors in search of a mate. Male cats exhibit similar behavior when they remain intact. It is common for them to spray in an effort to mark territory as well and the majority of intercat aggression is between intact males. Like females, they will be desperate to wander over great distances of the purpose of breeding. This roaming is reduced by 90% once a male cat has been neutered.


Upon reading multitudes of articles, presenting the opinions of experts in the field, I decided the right thing to do was to spay my new kitten. She became a part of my family at 2 months, so I waited a couple months before I brought her in to the vet to have the procedure done. The nervousness was overwhelming to me that day, because I had to drop her off and then go to work in the Mission District. It never feels good to put a loved one under anesthesia for a surgery. But then I picked her up, took her home and she recovered quickly. And I have to say that for myself, I felt good that I had perhaps saved the lives of many cats who may have otherwise wound up in a shelter, may have been euthanized, or had to struggle for survival outdoors. I felt good that my cat may now live a longer life and have less risk of certain types of disease. And it helps that I won’t have to deal with this little lady crying constantly while in heat, desperately trying to get outdoors and spraying all over my house. The choice is personal, but this was the right one for me.


By Precious Fur SF Assistant Manager, Caroline

 

Bibliography


  1. "Do Cats Have Periods? | Hill's Pet". Hill's Pet Nutrition, 2020, https://www.hillspet.com/cat-care/healthcare/do-cats-have-periods.

  2. "Estrous Cycles In Cats". Vca_Corporate, 2020, https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/estrus-cycles-in-cats.

  3. "How Does Spaying A Cat Help With Behavior Issues?". Pets.Thenest.Com, 2020, https://pets.thenest.com/spaying-cat-behavior-issues-8846.html

  4. "The Importance Of Spaying - Hartz". Hartz, 2020, https://www.hartz.com/the-importance-of-spaying/.

  5. "Spay/Neuter Your Pet". ASPCA, 2020, https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/general-pet-care/spayneuter-your-pet.



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