Spay it Forward for World Spay Day and Share the Facts on Cats, Kittens, Conception, and Spay/Neuter

Have your cat spayed at a young age to prevent a litter of kittens and for her health and well-being

It only takes one brief encounter for a female cat who is not spayed to become pregnant – please share this informative graphic to help spread the word.

While every day is a good day to promote the virtues of spay/neuter – not only as a safe and humane means of reducing cat overpopulation – but as a procedure to help ensure your cat live a longer, happier, and healthy life, with today being World Spay Day, it makes it all the more relevant. It’s a concept I like to call “Spay it Forward,” meaning we need to put as much factual and useful information as we can into tiny, digestible sound-bites so it can easily be shared to educate and impact change. To aid in the effort, to follow are some basic 101’s of kittens, cats, conception, cat overpopulation, and how spay/neuter relates to it all.

The Numbers Game – Based on outdoor colony cat research by Dr. Michael Stoskopf, professor of wildlife medicine at North Carolina State, it’s been determined an unspayed female cat could have between 98 – 200 kittens in her lifetime. When you factor in possible offspring from offspring during that 7 year time frame, that could total to a collective astounding 5000 kittens.

A male and female cat pair, if unaltered, can be responsible for over 5000 kittens in a 7 year span

It’s easy to think “it’s only one litter” but when you add it all up, the number of additional kittens that could be born as a result is astounding.

Kittens, Cats, and Conception – A female kitten can become pregnant as early as 4 1/2 months of age; a male kitten can impregnate a fertile female at the same young age. Because cats are such prolific creatures, a pre-pubertal spay/neuter is now recommended and is safe with healthy kittens who weight at least 2 pounds or are 8 weeks of age or older.  You do not have to wait until a female has had her first heat to spay her and contrary to popular belief, a  female cat can become pregnant while she is nursing if she is not spayed.

Health Benefits – Spaying your female prior to her first heat reduces her risk of uterine infections, uterine cancer, and mammary cancer. Neutering your male before he is 6 months of age prevents testicular and prostate cancer.

Behavioral Benefits – Spaying stops a female’s heat cycle and the annoying vocalization and inappropriate urination that comes with it – until she is spayed, this cycle will repeat and continue for weeks at a time until she finds a mate. Neutering your male reduces aggressive behavior and his need to mark the house or outdoors with strong smelling urine. Spay/neuter will virtually eliminate these behavioral issues whether for an indoor pet cat, or outdoor colonies.

Safety – Spay/neuter reduces the urge for a cat to wander and roam looking for a mate which could result in a traffic injury or fatality.

Indoor Cats –  Notwithstanding the health benefits, even with the best intentions, escapes can happen and if your female cat is not spayed, she might accidentally find herself getting pregnant, or your male might find a fertile female to impregnate.

Personality Changes – Your female cat does not need to experience a litter of kittens to feel fulfilled. She will be much happier without the undue emotional and physical stress of a heat and your male will not become emasculated if you neuter him – he will only be friendlier and less aggressive.

Weight Gain – With proper diet and exercise, your cat does not have to gain weight after spay/neuter.

Cost – Many people think they can’t afford the procedure, but there are many low-cost, even free clinics that offer assistance now. Ask your veterinarian or local shelter for options. The ASPCA also has a low-cost spay/neuter database provider available on their website.

The procedure is dangerous –  Spay-neuter operations are the most routine surgeries performed in the veterinary world and are very safe. They are typically quick and most cats are walking and eating within a few hours after the surgery and back to normal behavior in a couple of days.  They are prescribed pain medication after the surgery as needed and complications are not common, especially when the owner or caretaker follows all post-surgical care guidelines.

Trap/Neuter/Return – All of us are affected by cat overpopulation, whether we have a cat or not. Millions of tax dollars are spent every year to shelter and care for outdoor and shelter cats – much of it to euthanize cats who are either feral or can’t be homed.  By adopting responsible TNR programs, community cat populations would decrease and as a result we could use tax payer dollars for something productive, like nationwide programs in schools and communities to help educate about the benefits of spay/neuter in a collective, overall sense.

The Ethics of Cat Overpopulation – The truth of the matter is there are more cats in shelters than there are people willing to adopt them. The other truth is people cause cat overpopulation, not cats, and that’s why our shelters are overcrowded in the first place and why outdoor cat colonies exist. It’s also why cats are needlessly euthanized. The bottom line – it’s instinctual for a cat to mate and if we don’t stop dumping them on the street (which is illegal), especially if they have not been fixed, they will find a way to procreate. The only way a cat can be spayed or neutered is if we take them to the vet. Surely as a highly evolved, civilized, and intelligent race, if we can be responsible for causing cat overpopulation, we can be responsible for decreasing it as well.

Millions of cats and kittens are euthanized every year, which could be prevented by spay/neuter programs

This sweet boy is our dear Kizmet. He was one of the lucky ones that found a furever home.

Thankfully more and more people are learning about the virtues of spay/neuter. Social media has the ability to reach massive audiences and we have celebrities, sports figures, and more who are chiming in to help the cause. I firmly believe between that and somehow adopting a nationwide, mandatory program in schools that teaches about pet responsibly and spay/neuter to our youth, one day we will see a more caring world where World Spay Day is more of an overall celebration, toasting all the pets who have had the procedure for their health and happiness, rather than a plea to a world that is still rife with misunderstandings and misconceptions about the overall impact of the procedure to society at large.

hearts

This post has been updated since first published in 2014. For further information on spay/neuter, cat overpopulation, and additional cat facts, please reference these detailed articles:

Zee & Zoey’s Spay/Neuter Series – The Facts of Life: The 101’s of Kittens and Conception

Zee & Zoey’s Spay/Neuter Series – The Overall Health, Behavioral, and Emotional Benefits for Cats and Society at Large

Zee & Zoey’s Spay/Neuter Series – Debunking the Misconceptions, Excuses, and Reasons Why People Don’t Spay or Neuter Their Cat

Zee & Zoey’s Spay/Neuter Series – Cat Overpopulation and the Moral Ethics of Time

Zee & Zoey’s Spay/Neuter Series – Making Sense of Cat Overpopulation When the Numbers Don’t Add Up

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  1. da tabbies o trout towne says:

    we iz knot grate at math but even we noe thiz bee two manee kittehs…a grate post guys
    that kneadz ree pete inn again N again N again……by de grace oh cod may bee sum day
    peepulz will act shoe listen…then due….

  2. Such important information! I’m gonna share your post ’cause everyone – and I mean, EVERYONE! – should be readin’ about this.

    Purrs,
    N issy

  3. meowmeowmans says:

    Wonderfully written, Deb! Thank you or sharing the facts about spaying and neutering. It’s true that more and more people are getting this important message, but we still have a way to go, right?

  4. meowmeowmans says:

    Oh, and I’m tweeting your post now! 🙂

  5. Wonderful, educating post. I will definitely share because I am a huge advocate of spay/neuter. When you volunteer at a shelter, you see the effects of what happens to kittens and cats who have not been spayed or neutered. The numbers of euthanization of cats is astronomically high and this could have been prevented if someone took the time to have their kitties altered. Even the Humane Society of the United States says there are not enough homes for all the cats that pass through shelters. I am happy our humane society offers a low cost spay/neuter clinic

  6. Moggiepurrs says:

    Great post, Deb. I shared it on my Facebook page. I’ll be doing a related post in a few weeks on “Kitten Season.”

  7. education is the key….we wish that everyone would just realize the surgery is quick and not that hard on kittens – most of our have bounced back within hours of surgery. we love that you are doing this and have shared as well!

  8. mariodacat says:

    M said she can never understand why some people won’t spay and neuter their animals. You posted an excellent article.

  9. This is such important information to get out. We can’t understand why people don’t neuter their pets either. Some say it’s the cost, but there’s so many shelters, rescue groups, etc. offering inexpensive neutering….it’s just not an excuse!

  10. Connie says:

    Really do appreciate you spreading the word!

  11. Wish I’d seen this sooner. We lobby hard for this every year but yours went into much more detail. It’ll be good to share and repost as we move into kitten season.

  12. Sue Brandes says:

    Very important information. Shared.

  13. Such impawtant information ! We shared. Purrs

  14. Riva Mayer says:

    Thank you so much for such crucial facts!!!
    Let’s all make sure all the kitties under our care are
    spayed/neutered and at 4 months of age.
    Thank you from ISRAEL

  15. Wonderful post as always!!! We posted too but took a slightly more direct approach 😉

  16. Ellen Pilch says:

    I feel so bad for females that keep having to have babies. Spay/neuter is so important. I just brought a feral male in today to be fixed.

  17. You can never promote the virtues of spay/neuter enough. Education is key to help reduce the problem of cat overpopulation. Thanks for this great post!

  18. I always love to read and re-read anything you post on Spay/Neuter. It is confounding to me how many kitties we’ve found lately who likely had a home at one point but were never fixed. And one in particular who had a testicle that did not descend. As a result he was a bit aggressive and had very bad smelling urine. He’s now undergone the more intricate surgery, is getting rid of the hormone build up that made him aggressive (he’s really a nice kitty and you could tell it was NOT a personality trait but instead a health issue driving the aggression)–and his urine is almost normal. All because he had the proper neuter surgery.
    Keep helping people understand the importance of this…I will never tire of spreading the word!
    Thanks, Deb!