Posted on 27/07/2015
SPCA Otago is calling on all cat owners to make sure their pets are neutered. There’s always a surge in the numbers of new kittens in springtime and far too many of these are likely to be unwanted.
An un-neutered female in an urban area will probably have started breeding before she’s six months old, and she will produce two to three litters of up to eight kittens each year. In the course of her lifetime, she could be responsible for thousands of unwanted kittens.
The sad truth is that unwanted kittens that end up at the SPCA are the lucky ones. Many of the others are drowned by ill-informed owners. Drowning newborn mammals is not humane because like human babies, they instinctively hold their breath under water. They take a long time to die. Others are dumped away from home and normally die of cold and hunger. Or they are killed on the roads. Many become diseased and die because they haven’t been vaccinated, and many are given away casually to irresponsible owners.
Kittens should be neutered as soon as possible from the age of three months or as soon as they weigh 1 kg or more. Not only does early neutering prevent large numbers of unwanted kittens being born into an unwelcoming world, it’s also good for the neutered cat. It’s very draining and demanding for females to cope with one litter of kittens after another, especially if her body didn’t have a chance to mature properly. Furthermore, it is a complete myth that it’s better for a cat to have a litter before being neutered.
Neutering of male cats is also in their best interests. Tom cats are smelly, they spray urine round their territory, they get into fights on a regular basis, and they get bitten and scratched. Wounds often develop into large abscesses, and they are at great risk of contracting feline AIDS. Eventually, un-neutered toms become battle-scarred and weary and they often die young. In contrast, males neutered before they have a chance to develop bad habits, tend to fight much less often and have much better quality lives. Most importantly, they won’t father any more unwanted kittens.
One of the most common reasons people give for not neutering their cats is that it’s expensive. But it’s a small cost compared with that of looking after a litter of kittens, providing them with appropriate food and arranging for vaccinations and regular worming for as long as it takes to find homes for them.
Some cat owners also argue that it’s nice for children to see kittens being born. But, more often than not, the cat will give birth when everyone is asleep, so that the children miss the event. If humans are around, their presence may confuse and distress the cat, causing her to damage or neglect her kittens.
As the springtime kitten boom approaches, the SPCA has three messages for New Zealand’s cat lovers:
- Firstly, make sure your cat is neutered;
- Secondly, don’t feed strays unless you are willing and able to take responsibility for them and have them neutered. (Do be careful about ownership though; you can’t have a cat neutered if it “belongs” to another neighbour!);
- Finally, if you are able to give a loving home to a cat, visit your nearest SPCA Centre and choose one of our little waifs. They desperately need good homes and they will have been vaccinated, neutered, wormed and de-flea-ed already. All the big expenses have been met.
For further information, please contact:
SPCA Otago, ph. 03 4738252