Debunking the Misconceptions, Excuses, and Reasons Why People Don’t Spay or Neuter Their Cat for Spay/Neuter Month
The benefits of spay/neuter to a cat and society at large are so significant that it would seem the discussion would be closed for debate. The procedure is a safe, effective, and humane means to controlling cat overpopulation on the streets and in shelters, it significantly decreases the chances of uterine or testicular types of cancers and infections, and virtually reduces the negative behavioral issues associated with an unaltered cat such as loud yowling, spraying and territory marking, and aggressive fighting. Despite all of these collective benefits, however, some people still elect not to have the procedure done for one reason or another, so for February, Spay/Neuter Month, it seems appropriate to shed some cat hair on it all.
The reasons people don’t have a cat altered are varied and range from genuine ignorance, as in not knowing the importance due to lack of education or information on the subject, to knowing about the information to one degree or another but not caring enough about the situation to do anything, to knowing half-truths or misconstrued information that prevent someone from getting the procedure done, to people who strongly believe that a cat should never have the procedure done in the first place. In list format, here are the most common misconceptions, myths, excuses, or reasons why spay/neuter is not done.
The Top Ten Reasons Why People Don’t Have Their Cat Spayed or Neutered:
1. My cat will become overweight after the procedure. Some cats can gain weight after sterilization, but with proper exercise, diet and monitoring food intake, the risk can be considerably reduced. Many pet food companies make foods specifically formulated for dietary needs – just ask your veterinarian to provide you with healthy guidelines to safely monitor your cat’s weight. You should also schedule time every day to play with your cat – there are plenty of toys available to help keep your cat stimulated and active.
2. My cat’s personality will be adversely affected and change. This can happen, but the changes are actually positive, not negative. A male cat will not become “emasculated” if you neuter him – he will be friendlier and less aggressive. A female cat will be much happier without the undue emotional and physical stress on her of a heat.
3. My cat is an indoor cat so I am not worried about birth control. The mere fact that your cat will be happier and healthier as a result of the procedure should be reason enough. But even with the best intentions an indoor cat can accidentally get outside and the instincts for him or her to find a cat to mate with are so strong, you might find yourself responsible for an unexpected litter of kittens, or worse yet, a tragic accident as a result of roaming.
4. It’s not fair to the cat to deprive them of their natural right to reproduce. Severe cat overpopulation and the fact the overall health of the cat is significantly improved should override any need for a cat to procreate for reasons outside of responsible breeding.
5. I want my child to witness the miracle of birth at least once. There are so many other ways that you can share the miracle of birth with your child in an informative manner without contributing to cat overpopulation, such as books, movies, or television shows about the subject. The best gift and life lesson you can give your child is that of compassion, understanding, and responsibility. Picking a pet out at the shelter together and having it grow up with you as part of your family is an invaluable life lesson, especially if you are adopting an older cat, a senior cat, a black cat, or a cat with a disability, which are the ones that are most frequently overlooked at shelters.
6. It’s only one litter – what’s the big deal? The big deal is that each new litter quickly adds up and there are plenty of available cats and kittens in shelters looking for a good home. Right now, according to the ASPCA, there are approximately 70 million cats on the streets and in shelters.
7. Euthanizing cats is a humane way to control cat overpopulation, so why bother with spay/neuter? Euthanasia originated as a humane way to end suffering in an animal due to extreme circumstances like terminal illnesses or sicknesses. Healthy, happy cats are now being euthanized as a means to control the population – rather than let this trend continue, we must encourage TNRM (Trap, Neuter, Return, Manage) programs for outdoor cats and responsible spay/neuter for indoor and free-roaming cats.
8. The procedure is too dangerous. Spay-neuter operations are the most routine surgeries performed in the veterinary world and are very safe. They are typically very 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.
9. The procedure is too expensive. There are low-cost or even free clinics that offer assistance – ask your veterinarian or local shelter for options. The ASPCA also has a low-cost spay/neuter provider database available on its website. Click here for details.
10. I don’t even have a cat – why should I care about spay/neuter? All of us are affected by cat overpopulation and millions of tax dollars are spent every year to shelter and care for these animals. Much of that money is spent to euthanize them when homes can’t be found. If communities collectively help promote the virtues of spay/neuter, shelters will be less crowded, less monies will be spent, and cat overpopulation will decrease as a result over time.
For further information on spay/neuter and cat overpopulation, please reference these detailed articles: