Speaking of Pets: Spay and neuter your companion animals, part 2 of 2 | VailDaily.com

Speaking of Pets: Spay and neuter your companion animals, part 2 of 2

By Joan Merriam
Special to the Daily
Cats that haven't been spayed and her offspring can give birth to up to one million babies.
Special to the Daily

My last column looked at some of the myths around spaying and neutering your dog.

This time, I’d like to talk about cats.

Common Myths

A widespread misbelief is that cats should be allowed to have a litter before being spayed. In fact, there are no health benefits whatsoever, and that “just one litter” merely worsens the cat population explosion.

Another myth is that the surgery will change a cat’s personality.  The only change involves the fact that most males will stop roaming in search of females, will stop urine spraying, and may become more gentle. Spayed females stop their incessant heat-related yowling, and like her male counterpart, she will be less likely to roam.

Then there’s the myth about weight gain. As with dogs, cats gain weight because they eat too much and exercise too little—not because they’ve been spayed or neutered.

Health Benefits

Because unaltered males tend to fight more, they’re more at risk for feline leukemia and feline immunodeficiency virus, both of which can be transmitted by bite wounds.  He will also be spared from developing testicular cancer.

A spayed female cannot suffer uterine cancers and infections, and is less likely to develop mammary cancer, which is fatal in about 90 percent of cats.

Veterinary experts explain that it’s safe for kittens as young as eight weeks old to be spayed or neutered. Further, research shows that compared to cats altered after six months of age, those altered earlier exhibit no increased physical or behavioral problems.

Benefits to your Community

By spaying and neutering your cat, you’re not adding to our staggering problem of pet overpopulation. In as few as seven years, one unaltered female cat and her offspring can produce over one million kittens.

You’re also not increasing the burden on our nation’s shelters, where each year 860,000 cats are euthanized because they haven’t been adopted.

And by altering your cat, you’re making sure its offspring don’t become another of the estimated 70 million feral and stray cats.

As an animal lover, spaying and neutering your pet is one of the greatest gifts you can give them.

Joan Merriam lives in Northern California with her golden retriever, Joey, and Maine coon cat, Indy. She emphasizes that she’s not a veterinarian or animal behaviorist — just an animal lover who’s been writing about pets since 2012. You can reach her at joan@joanmerriam.com.

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