Cats Can Be Fixed; What About Attitudes Towards Fixing?

By on 5-10-2012 in Uncategorized

Kitten

Kitten (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

To me, that animals kept as pets must always be sterilized goes without saying. It’s not that way for everyone, however. According to Mews and Views,

Often the people who benefit most from having a cat — students, young parents, disabled or elderly adults living on fixed incomes — are the ones with the most difficulty paying the front-end costs to neuter their cats and so they’re often depicted as “irresponsible”. This simply isn’t the case. They get the importance of spay/neuter but with limited incomes other bills take precedence and before they know it, the situation is out of control – the female cats start going into heat and having kittens — and the male cats start spraying – so they’re taken to animal control shelters where they’re often euthanized – or dropped outdoors to fend for themselves where they often form or join feral cat colonies.

I respectfully offer another perspective: having worked many years in lower-income areas and seeing firsthand the out-of-control breeding nightmares of unsterilized cats and dogs, many people do NOT believe it’s important to control their pets’ reproduction, any more than to manage their own. It’s a value held by many that the unchecked breeding is natural, they won’t interfere, and feel as strongly that their beliefs are “right” as the rest of us who couldn’t fathom having intact pets. Add to that the number of people who see their pets as disposables, and are undeterred by the recognition that millions of animals are killed at shelters due to overcrowding, and you have problems that far override any household economics.

I’ve pointed countless families to resources that deliver free spay/neuter — even mobile vets that will go to them, so no transportation excuses! — and they refuse. So while I think these free programs are a fantastic idea, to assume that it’s always a financial issue is fallacious. Personally, I think animal lovers (myself included) can be so secure in their love that they often overlook that masses of people place relatively little importance on non-humans, whether said masses have pets or not. And besides, if economics mattered that much, wouldn’t humans be more careful about their OWN reproduction and limiting overpopulation?

Kitten

Kitten (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Second Chance for Animals provides a list of some of the excuses (and rebuttals) given for not sterilizing:

  • Spaying or neutering will change my pet’s personality. The only behavior changes you’ll see are positive ones. Spayed or neutered animals make better compainions and are more affectionate. Males are less likely to roam or get in fights. Male cats tend to stop spraying if neutered young.
  • She needs to have just one litter. Motherhood will not make your pet healthier or happier. In fact, early spaying greatly reduces the incidence of mammary cancer, and eliminates infections of the uterus and ovaries. Your pet can be spayed if she is in heat or pregnant. Please don’t let more surplus puppies or kittens be born!
  • My pet will become fat and lazy. Lack of exercise and overfeeding cause obesity. Make time for walks and play, and ask your veterinarian about reducing calories.
  • I’ll find homes for all the puppies or kittens. Finding good homes for kittens or puppies is not easy. Many animals are discarded once they start to grow. And many will produce surplus babies of their own. The pet overpopulation crisis is perpetuated one litter at a time.
  • But my pet is a purebred. Having a litter and ensuring the health of the mother and babies is expensive, not to mention the significant financial and health costs if complications develop. Your pet is a companion, not a financial investment. Besides, one out of four animals turned in to shelters is a purebred!
  • I want my children to see the miracle of birth. Are you willing to explain to your children the tragedy of death caused by allowing yet another surplus litter to be born? What’s more, animals often go off by themselves to give birth.
  • I want my dog to be protective. Spaying and neutering does not affect a dog’s natural instinct to protect home and family.
  • The local shelter/humane society/SPCA will take care of them. But how? There are far more dogs and cats than available homes. Only one or two out of ten are adopted. Animal shelters across the nation are forced to kill an estimated 15 million dogs and cats (most of the young and healthy) every year.
  • I don’t need to neuter my male-he’s not the one having litters. Immaculate conception doesn’t explain dog and cat pregnancies. Male pets can father many offspring, which makes you equally responsible for pet overpopulation.
  • Preventing dogs and cats from having babies is unnatural. Domesticated animals are no longer ruled by the “laws of nature.” They have far more litters than in the wild. Spaying and neutering is the only way to end the cruel and unnatural overpopulation problem.
  • I don’t want my male pet to feel deprived or less masculine. Don’t confuse human sexuality with a dog or cat’s hormonal instincts. Neutering won’t cause any negative emotional reaction or identity crisis. In addition, it greatly reduces the risk of prostate and testicular diseases.
  • It’s too expensive to have my pet spayed or neutered. The surgery is a one-time cost and a small price to pay for the health of your pet and the prevention of more homeless animals.

I’ll add a few more that will up the absurdity factor: a couple refused to spay because the guy wanted their cat to give birth to a specific breed of kitten that she wasn’t (!), so they were willing to let her breed herself to death — with any neighborhood tom that came along — in this pursuit. Others don’t want to rule out the possibility of “someday” getting a baby from their dog or cat, so they leave them intact. Still others have told me that they “only” got their cat or dog as a stray, so they’re “not special” and they’re not going to put any effort into managing their care. Probably the most ludicrous excuse was given by the purchasers of a dog from a backyard breeder who opted not to neuter because “we want him to be a ‘house dog'”! When I explained that the neighborhood roaming and fighting that could occur if the male was left intact, which was the opposite of keeping a dog at home, I was shrugged off. The husband said he wanted his dog to “stay male”.

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