We hope our series on the importance of spaying and neutering has helped you in some way – either clarified the issue for you or given you some information to help others grapple with the question of spaying or neutering.
The fact is that there are just too many dogs and cats for shelters to handle. The Humane Society estimates about 2.7 million healthy dogs and cats are euthanized every year. That is just too many. And the worst part is that we humans are the cause.
But that means we humans can help. What can you do?
First, if you plan to get a pet, get them from a shelter. Shelter animals are in shelters through no fault of their own. They were often abandoned or the off-spring of an animal whose irresponsible owner did not have them spayed or neutered. Give one (or two!) a chance!
And the secondary advantage is that your new bundle of love will be spayed or neutered and fully vetted. You have the security of knowing that your dog or cat has been checked out and medical issues (in the rare case – most are healthy) have been or can be addressed. And you don’t have to worry that you will contribute to the needless death of more animals in the future.
Third, share this series with friends and family. Don’t stop there – the Internet can provide scientific studies and other back up, but, of course, be careful of your sources.
And finally, share your story with Cats in Tow! Have you adopted a pet from a shelter? We would love to hear your story!
Links to the full series if you want more information:
We have taken a break from our series, but we are back talking about some of the myths surrounding spaying/neutering. If you need to catch up, here are links to previous posts: Time for a Change, The Numbers, Just One Litter, Copy Cat, Good Homes, Penny Wise, and Interference.
The connection between personality and spaying/neutering is a fear for many people. They worry that neutering a male cat or dog will make them feel less like a male, or that spaying or neutering their dog will make them less protective of the family and not a good watch dog. Or that cats or dogs will become less affectionate after being spayed or neutered.
All of these fears are ungrounded! There is simply no evidence that spayed or neutered dogs are less watchful; protecting the ‘pack’ is a basic natural instinct of dogs. Neutering will not make a male dog or cat feel less like a male either. We have to remember that even though we think of our pets as family members, they are still animals. Animal personalities are formed by genetics and environment. Dogs and cats don’t have an identity based on being male or female, and are refreshingly free of egos. They nurture their off-spring and protect their families based on the natural instinct to breed and ensure the survival of the species.
The fact is that animals that have been spayed or neutered are often more affectionate with their humans. Why? Because the instinct to breed is gone. They are not driven to urine mark or fight with other dogs and cats to keep their territory. They are not driven to search out mates, so they are less likely to try escaping and roaming. Female cats and dogs are freed of the burden of having to care for each litter. Relieving our pets of these drives reduces their stress. Many dogs and cats calm down after being spayed or neutered and make better pets.
Better pets for us and a better world for cats and dogs – what more do we need?
We have been talking about numbers in this series. The number of loving cats and dogs that go without homes. And we hope that through this discussion, Cats in Tow can make a small difference in those numbers.
The Humane Society has a succinct list of myths and facts surrounding spaying and neutering. We will explore some of these myths in more depth in the next few posts.
The first myth is a prevalent one: It’s better to have one litter before spaying a female pet.
Where does this myth come from? That is difficult to say. There may be a relationship to the myth that having a litter will calm a dog. There is no evidence for this. Dogs and cats are not human. They mate and breed because their natural instincts tell them to do so, but having a litter does not change the essential nature of most dogs or cats.
Many people even think that letting their dog have a litter of puppies will fix behavioral problems. No! Fixing behavioral problems in dogs requires training and exercise. In fact, some dogs become more aggressive because their natural instinct to protect their offspring kicks in. This again is biology. They are protecting their gene pool and should not be confused with a mothering instinct.
The truth is that there is a lot of medical evidence that shows cats and dogs that do not give birth are healthier:
- Female dogs and cats spayed before going into heat have a significantly reduced risk of developing mammary cancer.
- Spaying your dog greatly reduces the possibility that she’ll contract pyometra, a potentially fatal bacterial infection.
- While ovarian and uterine tumors are uncommon in dogs, spaying reduces the risk that they will develop.
- Carrying and giving birth to puppies can cause physical suffering and stress for dogs.
(For more details, visit the ASPCA website.)
According to Alley Cat, “research shows that kittens and puppies spayed or neutered before 12 weeks of age have fewer complications from surgery than those over 12 weeks. Also, kittens and puppies rebound much faster after the surgical procedure, with less stress than their counterparts over six months of age.”
As well, “[s]payed and neutered cats lead improved, healthier, and longer lives. Spayed outdoor females are able to enjoy a happier and longer life without the constant stress of endless pregnancies and nursing kittens, and neutered males are calmer and no longer suffer injuries in fights over females and territory.”
If you wait to spay or neuter, you run the risk of inadvertently contributing to pet over-population, and ultimately to the death of dogs and cats. Dogs and cats in heat are focused on one thing, breeding. Even indoor cats and highly-supervised dogs are notorious escape artists at this time.
In terms of emotional health, cats and dogs will not regret not having a litter. Yes, we love them like family, but we need to remember that they having offspring is purely biological for them. They do not have an emotional tie to being a parent as people do.
If the health of your pet is your first concern, then spaying or neutering is the best course.
Decisions, decisions. For those of you following along, We are contemplating a new addition to our household for 2014: two cats. I gave a short introduction in Part 1, talked about space in Part 2, time in Part 3, money in Part 4, and considerations of type of animal in Part 5.
As most of my questions have been unanswerable, I am quite happy to announce that this week the topic requires no decision on my part! My cat or cats will be adopted from a shelter or rescue organization.
Reputable shelters are absolutely the best option when adopting a pet. Shelters are overrun with cats and dogs all times of the year. They are always looking for loving forever homes for their furry charges. No-kill shelters and rescue organizations in particular struggle with not being able to take on new animals when they are over capacity. Most of these are run by people who just love animals and want the best for them. Cats in Tow is a case in point! They have teamed up with PetSmart in Brea, California so that people looking for a new animal companion have a place to visit the animals ready for adoption. Or check out our page of currently adoptable pets.
Shelters work hard to make sure each adoption is a success. Many have foster programs where animals that are not quite ready to be in their forever homes stay temporarily in safe places. There could be many reasons why an animal isn’t ready: females who have just had kittens or puppies, puppies or kittens that are too young, illness, shyness due to abuse or abandonment issues, just to name a few. Many people think that shelter animals all have behavioral issues, but that is simply not true.
Shelters also work with veterinarians to make sure the animals are healthy. Spaying and neutering is required to keep the abandoned animal numbers from continuing to grow.
Some of the expenses that most shelters cover before adoption: spaying/neutering $150-300, two distemper vaccination $20-30 each, rabies vaccination $15-25, heartworm test $15-35, flea/tick treatment $50-200, microchip $50. Those expenses would need to be covered by you if you got a free pet from a friend, advertisement or other source.
And most important for me, shelters are not focused on profit. They are focused on the health, well-being and positive outcome for the animals. An animal is a living being and deserves better than to be commodity. If you are still unsure of shelters being the best option, please do some research, talk with a veterinarian, look into the problems of animal cruelty and animal overpopulation.
Finally, we have our new love or loves (well, not really, but in blog land!) The end? Not quite, next week we will wrap up the series with some tips for successful adoption and introduction of new family members.
Two lovelies looking for their forever home. Thanks to Hugh Mobley (Hugh Mobley Photography,http://www.hughmobley.com/) for the photographs.
Crawling and panting along the busy street of Venice Blvd in LA , Bentley caught the eye of a college student leaving campus. He was the victim of a hit and run and was desperately trying to get himself to safety.
After spending the night at an emergency care hospital, Bentley’s rescuer learned that it would be over $300 just for an x-ray. She decided to contact a friend whose mom helps with cats. She contacted a representative of the Cats In Tow Program, Lorraine, who recommended she take the cat to La Palma Vet Hospital for x-rays and assessment.
Bentley has a fractured pelvis and a dislocated hip, but if he is kept confined to a cage for 6-8 weeks he should heal. Then, physical therapy can help him re-align his limbs to walk again.
We need to raise approximately $500 to cover his care and recovery. Luckily, Bentley has already found a dedicated foster to keep him happy but confined during his healing process. We can’t wait to have Bentley as our newest family member at Cats in Tow as soon as he is healthy again! 🙂
Click here to visit Bentley’s GoFundMe page to leave a donation, or visit the donation tab on our blog!
We have many stories of fairytales and happy endings, but the truth is many cats find their happy endings in places like our cat sanctuary. Some cats just aren’t meant to live a typical house cat life, and that’s okay. … Continue reading
If you didn’t already know, Cats in Tow isn’t just about adopting cats. Oh no, we love cats way too much to stop there! The Cats in Tow Organization also provides a sanctuary for feral cats that are incapable of becoming adopted but still need a warm, loving home.
As we’ve mentioned before, cat overpopulation is a massive problem that can’t easily be solved. Trying to find a home for every abandoned cat we come across is nearly impossible, but the cat sanctuary does help relieve some of that stress. Our cat sanctuary is ordinance approved to provide a caring shelter for feral cats that cannot manage interaction with people or simply cannot get adopted.
This is where we need your help! Fundraising is a constant function of any nonprofit organization, but more than anything we need to fight to keep this conservation going!
Keep it going for who you ask? Well, meet Diva!
Diva is one of our first residents to find a home in the cat sanctuary. Our organization owner found her after a young couple informed her that they had a pregnant cat in their backyard. When Judith found her, she was skinny, crying and luckily only in heat. After taking Diva to the vet to take care of any future pregnancies, she soon settled into the sanctuary and made a home for herself in the bathroom.
Diva almost found a home in Pasadena to a lovely adopter who wanted to give her a forever home. Sadly as soon as she arrived she cried for weeks on end. Turns out Diva had become homesick for the sanctuary she was already settled into. So Judith brought her home to the sanctuary where she happily resides today.
Diva and other sanctuary cats love their happy home, but in order to keep them healthy and happy we need your help! Like we always say, any solution can be reached one paw at a time 🙂