Spay/neuter will prevent explosive cat overpopulation

March is Kitten Season

It’s March, and kitten season is upon us. With longer and warmer days, cats and dogs instinctively start to mate and the cycle continues through fall and sometimes into the winter. The result: a lot of new kitties and pups, so many that thousands end up in shelters, or given away to friends and relatives who might have otherwise rescued a kitty from the shelter.

Because of that cat and dog overpopulation is such a huge problem, some animal activists’ organizations call it a national crisis that could easily be averted by having pets spayed or neutered.

2 to 3 litters a year X up to 6 kittens = too many cats

Any veterinarian will tell you that cats are particularly hard-wired to reproduce. Their system is designed to guarantee impregnation, with the eggs falling on the male’s sperm. A cat can have a litter of kittens two to three times a year with up to six kittens in each litter. Each kitten can have their own litter at six months. The resulting population explosion is exponential with one cat with an average of 2.8 kittens per litter.

Spay/neuter not only eliminates all the extra kittens, it improves the feline’s health and lengthens their lives, according to Alley Cat Allies. But, only ten percent of the animals received by shelters have been spayed or neutered. About 75 percent of owned-pets are altered. The American Society for the Protection of Cruelty Against Animals (ASPCA)  estimates that five out of ten dogs in shelters and seven out of ten cats in shelters are destroyed simply because there is no one to adopt them.

The ASPCA does not try to put a number of how severe the feline overpopulation problem is, nor do they put numbers of how many cats there are in this country, saying it’s impossible to determine how many stray dogs and cats live in the United States. Estimates indicate there are up to 70 million cats. The average number of litters a fertile cat produces is one to two a year with the average litter being from four to six kittens.

The stress this influx of unwanted pets puts on shelters throughout the United States, and beyond, compounded by the need to create more space to accommodate the steady stream coming in results in millions being euthanized.

The ASPCA backs of these figures estimating that 5 million to 7 million companion animals enter animal shelters nationwide every year, and approximately 3 to 4 million are euthanized (60 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats). Shelter intakes are about evenly divided between those animals relinquished by owners and those picked up by animal control. These are national estimates; the percentage of euthanasia may vary from state to state.

Cartloads of animals are hauled away because there are no forever homes for them. Many shelters are no kill, but many others are not. Even no kill shelters will re-locate their animals to another facility if they languish there. With state budgets tightening, animal shelters are facing a flurry of legislation in various states scaling back animal protections, especially the amount of time a pet must be kept at a shelter before being euthanized.

Only about ten percent of the animals received by shelters have been spayed or neutered whereas about 75 percent of owned pets are neutered. The ASPCA estimates that five out of ten dogs in shelters and seven out of ten cats in shelters are destroyed simply because there is no one to adopt them.

Too many cats in shelters

The problem is there are so many cats entering the shelters. People are especially drawn to kittens, who are cute and playful. Older, more subdued, cats, black cats, cats with disabilities like blindness or an amputation, don’t fare so well. And as they languish in the shelter beyond a designated time, they end up on the kill list. Even for those in no kill shelters, the cat’s life is stressful living in a very unnatural setting.

Less than two percent of cats and only 15 to 20 percent of dogs that end up in shelters are returned to their owners, according to the The National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy (NCPPSP). Most were identified from tags, tattoos or microchips.

These numbers are startling and disturbing. Many people want their cat to have a litter of kittens. They think it would benefit the kids by seeing the mom give birth. Others think it’s better for the cat to have at least one litter. That could not be more untrue.

According to several Feline rescue organizations, having kittens increases the potential for cancer of the mammary glands and other health issues. Even cats who have been in heat only once have a significantly higher risk of developing mammary cancer. The same benefits apply to outdoor feral cats.

Keeping an unspayed female or unaltered male feline inside is NOT an option. It’s not that simple. A cat can go into heat every two weeks or so. They wine, spray, and are miserable, because it’s nature’s design that they satisfy their need and reproduce.

While in heat, the female will mate several times; sometimes with one male, sometimes with several. One veterinarian told me that they are trying their darndest to reproduce. Having multiple partners helps guarantee impregnation. And several different male cats can father one or two of the kittens in the ensuing litter. That’s why a litter of kittens can have so many different characteristic traits.

The queen can also conceive from one to two days after she comes out of heat. So if you think you can prevent your unaltered kitties from reproducing you are dead wrong. Veterinarians recommend spaying or neutering  as early as possible as young as eight weeks. Most shelters automatically perform these procedures on cats so they can’t have hundreds of kittens. If they are fixed before they leave the shelter, it’s a guarantee they won’t have kittens. It’s the only way they can guarantee that.

Alley Cat Allies, advocates for early spay/neuter because first of all no new kittens are born. Other benefits include:

  • Improves the cat’s health
  • Eliminates changes that cause mammary and testicular tumors
  • Alleviates the constant strains of pregnancy
  • Stops unwanted mating behaviors—like spraying, yowling, and fighting

 

Read-more-white

 

Cat overpopulation national crisis could be averted by spay/neuter

Cats are hardwired to reproduce; only way to stop feline overpopulation is to spay/neuter

February 2: the clock is ticking to cat mating season. Spay/neuter your cat tod

How many cats can come about from one cat? Take pause before throwing out the numbers

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About the Author

BJ Bangs is an established journalist, photographer, and an aspiring author. She loves everything about cats, including writing about them.

2 Responses to Spay/Neuter will prevent explosive cat overpopulation

  1. BJ it makes me sad to read these numbers. I am firmly committed to spaying my pets. mind you, they’re family and I wouldn’t ever give them up. and if I died tomorrow, my kids have agreed to take my pooches.

    it’s heartbreaking that we don’t realize we’re dealing with other beings with feelings and that they matter.

  2. Thanks for getting the message out. It’s a no brainer for many of us but we need to keep educating until EVERYONE gets the message.

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Catpersonable BJ Bangs



At Paws for Reflection, we're serious about cats, writing about cat health, cat rescue and cat news. We delve into why cats are the absolute best soul mates. We spring in a little humor with lots of travel tips, photos and a few feline tales, making Paws for Reflection a must stop for cat information on the cat crazed Internet. BJ is an award-winning blogger/journalist, communications professional and photographer.

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