February is almost here and it is spay/neuter awareness month, but what is spaying and neutering, and why would we want to do it?
BestFriends.org tells us a little about what spay and neuter surgery is. For female cats, spaying is the surgical removal of ovaries and uterus. For male cats, neutering is the removal of the testicles. Both surgeries are done by a licensed veterinarian under general anesthesia to minimize pain and discomfort for your pet.
For your own pet, spaying or neutering impacts their health and longevity. While no one can promise how long any pet (or person) can live, spaying and neutering can help cats live longer lives! The humane society cites a study by Banfield Pet Hospitals that found spayed female cats lived 39% longer. Neutered male cats lived 62% longer, so the first benefit of spaying or neutering is the potential for more time with your cats!
But, why would a spayed or neutered cat live longer? The humane society lists a few reasons. The first is that unaltered pets have an urge to roam, which could cause them to have run ins with predators, fights with other cats or accidents like being hit by a car! Other reason for increased longevity for a spayed cat is that it it reduces their chances of getting cancers of the reproductive system, like uterine and mammary gland cancers. For neutered male cats, it eliminates the risk of testicular cancer!
Another benefit of spaying or neutering your cat is to reduce unwanted behaviors. The humane society says that for male cats, neutering solves 90% of spraying problems, as well as reducing yowling and the urge to fight with other male cats.
Given the reduction in cancer risks, spaying or neutering can also help save money in the long run by potentially reducing the need for extensive medical care! Besides costly medical bills, it can also save you the costs of raising litters of kittens, which brings us to another important aspect for spaying and neutering which is controlling cat overpopulation.
Overpopulation - we're not running out of kittens! Our cat, Sophie, is literally the poster cat at Providence Animal Control for spaying your cats. We adopted her after she was surrendered for scratching her former owners, but during her stay with them she had multiple litters, so they called her the kitten cannon when she got to Providence Animal Control! The poster warns that not spaying or neutering your cat contributes to cat overpopulation, and that if you give those kittens away and those people don't spay or neuter either, they are furthering the overpopulation in a vicious cycle! Snapus.org says just one unspayed female cat and her offspring can produce up to 4,948 kittens in a 7 year period! That's a lot of kittens, and there just aren't enough people out there to adopt our way through them all! The ASPCA says approximately 530,000 cats are euthanized each year (and approximately 390,000 dogs). They say this is down from 2011 when it was 2.6 million cats and dogs euthanized, but we still have a ways to go!
So, like Bob Barker, I'll end this post with a reminder to spay or neuter your pets! You'll help them live longer, and keep from contributing to cat overpopulation too!