February Is Spay & Neuter Month

What's the Big Deal About Spay and Neuter?

Cat nursing kittens, close up
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For several years, the last Tuesday in February has been designated as "World Spay Day," and February has been chosen as Spay and Neuter Month by countless humane societies and animal advocacy groups. There are many ways you can contribute to this effort, starting with spaying and neutering your own cats.

It is hard to believe that in this enlightened age, many people still are ignorant about the value of spaying and neutering their pets.

Misconceptions About Spay & Neuter:

  • She needs to have one litter before spaying.
    There is no medical research to support this supposition. In fact, spaying your female cat will not only save her the misery of frequent heat cycles throughout her life, but also will reduce her risk of mammary cancer, and eliminate the risk of uterine and ovary cancer, as well as pyometra. If none of these arguments are convincing enough, consider the possible complications of birth, which may result in the death of the mother and/or babies, not to mention the potential threat of eclampsia.
  • I'd like for my kids to witness the Miracle of Birth
    Rather than add to the cat overpopulation problem, watch this video first, then ask yourself if this kind of live experience is worth having your kids watch.
  • Spaying or neutering will make my cat fat and lazy.
    All cats have the potential of getting fat and lazy. Feeding your cat an appropriate premium food and engaging with her in interactive exercise will keep her in prime physical condition.

    For other myths and facts, see the links below.

    Reasons to Spay & Neuter

    • Promote Good Health
      We've discussed female cats above. Neutering male cats will prevent testicular cancer. It will also vastly reduce the urge to fight other males, which inevitably leads to abscesses, torn ears, and sometimes death.
    • Reduce Potential Behavior Problems
      Unaltered male cats spray indiscriminately, and their urine has a pungent, musky odor that is extremely difficult to remove from walls, furniture, and drapes. Unspayed female cats also spray - it is a natural instinct designed to attract a mate. In addition, whole cats of both sexes will stop at nothing to escape the house for mating purposes.
    • Help Prevent Overpopulation
      The first two reasons are personal; this one is universal. You may think that because you can find good homes for your cat's babies, that you're not contributing to the problem. Think again. There are simply not enough "good homes" to go around. For every kitten you place in a good home, another cat loses its life in a shelter or pound.

      If you want the "kitten experience," consider fostering a litter from a shelter for a rescue group. You will have the joy of seeing them in their "cute" period (which lasts only a few months), and you will have the satisfaction of helping, rather than contributing to the problem.

    Hopefully, if you've read this far, you're convinced of the value of spaying and neutering your own cats. Wait! There's lots more that you can do to help the hundreds of thousands of cats in need of S/N. And this month is a good time to start.

    Notable Numbers on Spay & Neuter


    In 7 years, one female cat and its young can produce 100 to 400 kittens.
    70,000 puppies and kittens are born every day in the USA alone. Compared to only 10,000 human births, it’s clear that there will never be enough homes for all these animals.
    Almost 8,000,000 dogs and cats are euthanized each year because there are no homes for them."

    There are countless ways you can help ease the overpopulation problem, and by doing so, save the lives of innumerable cats. Remember that a kitten not born is a life saved. If you've been reading the figures, by extrapolation, if you can spay or neuter just one cat , you will potentially have saved the lives of several hundred cats. Remember, of those unborn cats, some of them will find homes; the majority will either be abandoned to die, or eventually to find a colony of other ferals, or will be "surrendered" to animal shelters, where they will more often than not, be "euthanized," humanely or not.

    Make your $$ Count

    • S/N Your Own Cats
      If you've been putting it off, do it this month. If you're short on funds, there are organizations that offer free or low-cost Spay & Neuter.
    • Since my cats are all neutered, I chose to donate the cost of a spay or neuter for a cat this month to a great local organization. To find a rescue group near you, use the searchable database at PetFinder.com, or check with Alley Cat Allies for affiliate groups.

      Educate

      • Start With Kids
        What children learn today about responsible pet ownership will affect the lives of animals 100 years from now. If you enjoy working with children, think about volunteering to do a presentation on the pleasures of pets. It will be a great way to introduce the concept of spaying and neutering and develop a sense of responsibility in younger folks. OR...
      • Involve Your Kids
        If you have children, encourage your child to make a spay/neuter presentation or essay in a school endeavor.
      • Make Your Web Site Work
        There are dozens of websites with compelling graphics on Spay and Neuter. Start with the wonderful Vintage cat graphics on Diabella Loves Cats.
      • Use Your License Plate
        Many states now offer an "animal-friendly" personalized license plate. If your state doesn't offer one, write your legislator to urge action. The Spay & Neuter stamp took years to finally bear fruit, but the efforts were worth it.
      • Write a Letter to the Editor
        Write from the heart, but try to keep to the facts. Your letter might strike a chord of response from one or more readers, with the end result of many lives saved.
      • Call a Radio Talk Show
        You may have to don "flame-proof knickers," depending on the host, but armed with the facts, you will reach thousands of listeners and start them to thinking. Stay calm and non-argumentative, and you'll score points all-around.

      Volunteer

      • At S/N Clinic
        Veterinary clinics which provide low-cost spay and neuter usually need all the help they can get. Here are the posted "job descriptions" from one clinic: " Admissions Assistant, Transporters, Spay Boards, Surgery Prep, Rabies Recorder, Fluids, Medications, Recovery, Instruments, Trap Cleaning, Food/Drinks and Discharge. No experience is necessary for many of the clinic positions but a rabies vaccine is strongly recommended when volunteering at the clinic."
      • Get Involved With a Rescue Organization
        If you have a printer and suitable programs, make flyers for them. Help out at "adoption days" and talk up the value of S/N to people who stop by. Offer to clean cages and traps, shuttle ferals to the S/N clinics, anything you can do to lighten the burden of those in the trenches. If you have the space and the time to devote, volunteer to foster a cat or two.

        Start Your Own TNR Operation


        If there are no TNR groups local to your area. Enlist a cat lover friend to help. You don't have to start on a grand scale; the battle is one cat at a time. Do your homework first. Alley Cat Allies is a wonderful place to start. Another good source for starting a TNR operation can be found on the  site.

        I've started you out with several ways you can make a difference. No doubt you can think of a number more that are in synch with your time and abilities. By banding together to volunteer and educate, we can all make a tremendous difference in the future of cats in our world. There's no better time to start than right now. There is somewhere in the neighborhood of 100,000,000 households in the U.S. today. If only half of those households were responsible for neutering ​just one cat, think of the potential!