Browse our site or visit your local animal shelter, and you’ll discover the number of cats in need of homes is staggering. The problem of homeless pets reaches a critical mass particularly during difficult economic times, as we’ve been experiencing, and each year when the weather gets warm during the so-called “kitten season” when the number of kittens and pregnant cats arriving at shelters explodes.
In just six years, one cat and her offspring can produce up to 420,000 kittens, according to the Times-Herald. The number of surplus companion animals in the United States is in the millions, according to SpayUSA.org — with cats 45 times and dogs 15 times as prolific as humans. Between 6 million and 8 million pets enter animal shelters each year, reports The Humane Society of the United States; half are euthanized. That’s 2.7 million healthy, adoptable cats and dogs. Most of those put down are unwanted puppies and kittens from animals that weren’t spayed or neutered.
This is why we strongly advocate spaying and neutering pets.
Beyond decreasing the number of unwanted pets, spaying and neutering has other benefits.
According to cattime.com, benefits to spaying your female cat before they reach 6 months of age include:
- Decreasing the likelihood that that she will develop mammary gland tumors, which are often cancerous (of the cats who develop mammary cancer, 90 percent die from the disease).
- Eliminating the likelihood that your cat will contract pyometra, a serious infection that can develop in the uterus.
- Eliminating the likelihood for you cat to develop malignant tumors of the ovaries and uterus.
- Eliminating the possibility of your cat developing serious complications from the birthing process.
- Reducing your cat’s susceptibility to a variety of illnesses including respiratory disease, parasite infestation and bacterial infection. Regular heat cycles increase stress levels in a female cat’s body, which leave her vulnerable to these illnesses; spaying prevents this.
According to cattime.com, benefits to neutering your male cat before they’re 6 months of age include:
- Eliminating the chance your cat will develop testicular cancer.
- Reducing aggression in male cats, which also decreases the likelihood that they’ll fight other male cats and risk sustaining serious injuries.
- Reducing the likelihood that he will contract contagious and potentially fatal diseases, such as feline leukemia and feline AIDS. Neutered males are less likely to fight other cats, and therefore are not as likely to come into contact with cats carrying these diseases.
- Reducing the likelihood that your cat will stray from home and the possibility that he will be struck by a car or killed by a predator. Neutered males are less inclined to wander.
In addition to advocating that family pets are spayed and neutered, we are also strong supporters of TNR programs in which feral cats are humanely trapped; neutered, vaccinated and eartipped (a small portion of the tip of the cat’s left ear is surgically removed, a universal indication that they’ve been neutered) and returned to their original home.
TNR has proven to be more effective at controlling cat populations than trapping and killing feral cats, and is more humane.
If you’re a resident of York County, Pennsylvania, the SPCA has its own TNR program called Operation Spay our Strays (SOS). The service includes a spay/neuter surgery, feline leukemia testing, rabies vaccine and mandatory ear tipping (clients who opt out of the ear tipping will pay full surgery rates) for a cost of $15.