Depending on which humane website you read, there are between 4 to 12 million cats and dogs being euthanized in the United States annually. Here in Contra Costa County, we put down more than 3,000 cats every year. The reason? There are too many cats for the number of available homes!
There is no such control over private individuals who let their cats have kittens. The unwanted litters end up being casually given away, posted online or abandoned. These unsterilized cats become the strays and ferals that reproduce generation after generation—up to 3-4 litters a year per female. And the problem continues to build.
The problem is too large, too widespread for rescue groups and humane societies to handle alone. We need the help of every caring person in the community. Please become one of those helping people!
Educate yourself, your family and friends about the importance of spaying and neutering. Here are the key points to remember and to share:
- The best way to immediately improve the quality of life for cats is to spay or neuter them.
- Spayed or neutered cats make better companions and family pets. Without raging hormones, males and females maintain sweet dispositions and good behavior. Weight gain is not a function of sterilization; proper diet and exercise is the answer there.
- The cost of sterilization can be reduced at a low-cost county clinic. Some veterinarians will give a substantial discount for ferals and strays. Even the undiscounted cost is not prohibitive when compared to vet bills for treatment of abscesses and other conditions that are a result of roaming and fighting. Or when compared with the cost of taking care of a litter of kittens.
- Many nuisance behaviors are eliminated by sterilization. Females can be in heat for 4 or 5 days every 3 weeks, yowling, spraying and roaming. Unneutered males roam, fight and spray foul-smelling urine inside and out.
- Sterilization protects the health of cats.
- Cats will be less likely to contract deadly diseases like FeLVFeline Leukemia Virus, FeLV, is a retrovirus transmitted between infected cats when the transfer of saliva or nasal secretions is involved, for example when sharing a feeding dish. The infection is responsible for more deaths among cats than any other infectious disease. There are three main types of the virus and FeLV-positive cats can be infected with one, two, or all three types including: FeLV-A causes severe immunosuppression or a weakened immune system. FeLV-B causes neoplastic disease (tumors and other abnormal tissue trowths). FeLV-C is the most rare and causes severe anemia. The virus replicates in the body once infected, then spreads via the bloodstream to other parts of the body, namely the lymph nodes, bone marrow, and intestinal tissues. and FIVFeline Immunodeficiency Virus, FIV, is commonly known as Feline AIDS and is a lentivirus that affects domesticated housecats worldwide. FeLV and FIV are in the same biological family, and are sometimes mistaken for one another. However, the viruses differ in many ways. Although many of the diseases caused by FeLV and FIV are similar, the specific ways in which they are caused also differs., which can be contracted through deep bites and mating.
- Neutering males before 6 months of age will prevent testicular cancer.
- Spaying females before their first heat is the best protection against mammary cancer. Each subsequent heat increases their risk of cancer.
- The risk of testicular, ovarian or uterine cancer is completely eliminated.
- Spaying eliminates the risk of PyometritisIs a potentially fatal infection that attacks the uterus of cats, usually within a week of being in heat..
- Letting your cat have a litter of unwanted kittens is not the way to teach children “the miracle of birth.” Rather, it teaches a disregard for little lives that you have no intention of keeping. (And finding homes for the kittens just takes away potential adopters for the many already waiting in shelters who will be euthanized for lack of homes.) Teach about birth through the many excellent books and videos available instead.
What other action can you take?
Start by fixing all your pets – and everything you feed outdoors as well!
Start a neighborhood watch so that any new cat showing up in the neighborhood gets sterilized if needed. If the cat will not come to you CC4C can loan you a trap or one can be purchased (See Trap-Neuter-Return and the Trapping Tips.)
Don’t wait! Litters happen quickly.
- The mating season begins as early as January and doesn’t end until late in the year.
- Females can go into heat as early as four months of age.
- Nursing females can go into heat and become pregnant again before the current litter is weaned.
Offer to foster a cat, kittens, or mom cat and litter. Your family can enjoy them, while you offer them safety, socialization and a happy future with a good adoptive home.
Thank you for being part of the solution to the humane problem of cat overpopulation and the suffering of unwanted strays!