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Facts on fixing what isn't broken
There are a great many websites devoted to the myths and facts of spaying and neutering. Here are just a few:

  • The North Shore Animal League
  • Winn Foundation: information on early spay and neuter
  • The Capitol Humane Society
  • The Humane Society of Santa Clara County
  • Cat Fanciers' Association
  • American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
  • sniksnak's stop abuse-spay and neuter
  • the Long Walk
  • Top Ten Reasons for Pet Relinquishment

  • click here

    Thoughts on fixing what isn't broken

    I have read where some people compare the feline ability to reproduce with the human ability. The comparisons that say I wouldn't do anything to my cat that I wouldn't do to myself, meaning castration or hysterectomies. I will make some comparisons of my own.

    Sex, for humans, is a pleasurable experience, many consider it the ultimate act of love.
    For the cat, it is not an act of love or affection. It is an act of procreation.

    Human males will (hopefully ;-)) only have one mate at a time.
    Feline males will do their best to impregnate every in heat female available.

    A human female, on average, reaches (physical) sexual maturity at 13 or 14.
    A feline female, on average, reaches sexual maturity at six months of age.

    A human female gestates for approximately nine months.
    A feline female gestates for approximately nine weeks.

    A feline female will be able to conceive again within a week of giving birth.
    A human female will not even want to think about conceiving another child for well over a week.

    A human female has, on average, one baby at a time.
    A feline female has, on average, four to seven babies at a time. And of those babies, half might be female. To start the cycle over again in six months.

    This quote from the San Diego Feral Cat Coalition:

    "A pair of breeding cats, which can have two or more litters per year, can exponentially produce 420,000 offspring over a seven-year period."

    From the North Shore Animal League:

    The Miracle of Life...
    "Come quick, come quick", their mother said "The time is getting near"
    She feels that when the kittens come the children should be here.
    She told them that a big orange Tom took "Kitty" as his wife
    "It's wonderful, a gift from God, the miracle of life"
    At half a year young "Kitty" feels too painful and too scared
    to appreciate six miracles, blind-eyed and yellow haired.
    But she knows these lives depend on her and nature tells her how
    and as she cleans them, children ask "Mom, can we go now?"
    But now and then for six more weeks the children visit her
    to play with six new magic toys made of life and fur.
    The six weeks pass, the newness gone and new homes yet unfound,
    Mom bundles up six miracles and takes them to the pound,
    Where lovingly, with gentle hands and no tears left to cry,
    the shelter workers kiss them once and take them off to die.
    And "Momma Kitty" now she's called mourns her loss and then,
    she's put outside, and of course, she's pregnant once again.
    Dad tells "Kitty" STOP THIS NOW or you won't live here long!
    but deep inside of Momma Cat, this time something's wrong.
    Too young, too small, too often bred now nature's gone awry,
    Momma Kitty feels it too and she crawls off to die.
    She too is freed from this cruel world, and from her time of strife.
    How harsh the truth, how high the price this "Miracle of Life"?

    -By Barry Taylor, DVM

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    Our cats are happy. None of our cats have had a litter since they lived with us. I am sure that Lonee had her share before she came to live with us. We have a suspicion that George and Gracie are her grandchildren. Our cats are not lacking in spirit, as some people think happens after having a cat altered. I think one of the positive points about it, is that they never have to grow up. They can be the eternal kittens. I have seen these free roaming, unneutered male cats and they look battle scarred and weary. I don't see them running and playing and having fun like our male cats do.
    These intact males just look old.

    Cats don't know about birth control. They don't know about overpopulation. They don't practice abstinence. They don't take birth control pills. You can't find little kitty condoms or diaphragms. As much as I love my cats and I am very guilty of anthropomorphasizing their thoughts and feelings, I admit, but I don't believe that they miss their reproductive parts. I don't believe that it takes anything *cat* away from them. I do believe that it enhances their life and wellbeing. And I am positive that they are healthier because of it.

    I believe that if people took more responsibility for their cats reproductive systems, an incident like the Noah's Ark Tragedy would never have happened. There would be no need for shelters for unwanted cats and dogs. There would be a lot less throw away pets. It would be nice if every cat had a lap. One of the saddest things for me to see are the cages outside of pet stores, the cages with all of the puppies and kittens that were *accidents*. Because somebody didn't spay or neuter and they dumped their unwanted babies into an already overcrowded system. I would love to take them all home, but that's not an option. I have heard shelter workers say that for every kitten born, there is one less shelter cat that will have a home. Looking into those cages, I know it's true. It's something to think about.

    If you don't feel that you can afford to have your pet altered, please call the Humane Societies or Animal agencies in your area and ask if they have any information about who might help with the cost. In our location, we have an agency by the name of the Spay/Neuter Assistance Program (SNAP) that helps out with the cost of the surgeries. We also have the Mercy Crusade. You can also call 1-800-248-SPAY, which will send a coupon to help with the cost at participating vets in your area. If none of these suggestions help, see if you can find a vet to take payments.
    Your pet will thank you for it.

    If you want your children to witness the Miracle of Life, or you know somebody who believes that letting their dog or cat have just one litter so that their children can witness the Miracle of Life, do the homeless and unwanted animals of this world a favor. Spend twenty bucks plus shipping and handling to buy the video The Miracle of Life from the PBS website. It is a very well done video of the making a human being, from conception through birth, actual film footage of the entire process. Or keep an eye out for it on NOVA, on your local PBS station. It's shown about once a year. I believe that this is a much more practical and educational tool than bringing more unwanted animals into this world.

    A final thought

    The following letters are from people who work in shelters...

    Just got home from work and my wife sat me down to read all this about Ryan's cat Kow. [Kow's owner refused to neuter his male cat] I'm a shelter tech at the humane society. When I was a kid I wanted to be a vet but couldn't afford school so ended up here. It's hard for me to know where to begin or what to say. I start every morning by killing puppies and kittens and dogs and cats. We have a shrink who comes once a month to tell us that we're doing the right thing and that we can't blame ourselves. And every night I lay awake next to my wife and wonder why it has to be this way. I talk to people all day who don't spay or neuter their dogs and cats. They all have excuses but mostly its just that you can always depend on people to do one thing very well, and that's NOTHING. I'm feeling very down and very hopeless right now. If you want to see how it really is, come to work with me tomorrow. Look at the questions in their eyes. Some are terrified and fight back. Most just don't understand how they came to be there or what is happening to them. And look at the barrels full of dead bodies. I've been told there's one spot out at the landfill where all the bodies are dumped. They didn't ask to be born into a stinking world that has no place for them. They deserve better than they get. They deserve better than hiding under bushes and digging in trash cans until they're killed by cars, horrible slow-killing diseases, other animals or ME. All that any one of them wants is a safe warm home and a human they can love and trust. We betray that trust every day, and then make jokes about it. Some more numbers: More that 89% of the animals killed are younger than 3 years old. More than a third of the dogs are 'purebreeds'. And, understand this: we do not "put them to sleep". We KILL them. Call it what it is. And know that we kill them FOR YOU because you were too lazy or ignorant to make sure they weren't born in first place. This is almost more than I can take. I think every day about quitting. We all do. But we stay because we hope we can somehow make a difference.

    A Shelter Tech

    May 12, 1998

    Yesterday was a very bad day at the shelter. Two people brought in litters of newborn kittens. They always ask "You'll save them, won't you?" I usually tell the truth. We euthanise immediately if the eyes are still closed. We just don't have the staff or volunteers needed to care for all the babies. Once all the foster homes are filled, we just can't keep all the bottle babies. We usually have 5 or 6 animal attendants to care for 300-400 animals. We just lost another employee and if someone calls in sick, it's not unusual to have only 4 people to do the work of 8. People bring in very sick or severely injured animals and again expect us to make them better. Often these people are from towns that don't even contract with us for animal control and they're not willing to pay for services, either.

    I signed in another litter of 4 week olds with huge wormy bellies, fleas, ear mites, ears glued shut and runny noses. Same question and same answer - they weren't eating, so they were killed. We have a room full of cats and kittens being treated for URI, probably 80-100 cats, but if there is no improvement in a week, they are killed. Do they have any idea how long it takes to medicate so many animals? Do they even care? When we suggest trapping the mothers for spay/release or even removal and euthanasia, most say it's too much work. A lady turned in a litter of six week olds yesterday. She said it wasn't her fault there were male cats outside that got her cat pregnant. We asked her to hold on to the kittens for two more weeks so that they would be old enough to be adopted and she answered that they were making too much of a mess and we should just give them away now - they were eating already. When I told her we neutered all animals before adoption she said we were stupid. I lost my temper and told her it was to prevent messes like the one she had. Guess who's living in my bathroom now. I really didn't want another foster litter - I already have one living in the basement - but they would have gotten URIs if they stayed at the shelter and then we would have had them for months. Added to that, we put 12 dogs down and the kennels are still full. One, an elderly rottie/St. Bernard mix, was a favorite of mine. Then there's the stream of baby birds, squirrels, raccoons and oppossum and the constant calls from people who don't want wildlife in their back yards. I really hate working this time of year. Sorry for the rants - I just need to get it off my chest. I guess I need to cuddle some kittens. It's not their fault - it's the humans I blame for all of this.



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