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

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, which will be today’s topic in our series for National Spay/Neuter Month.

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 with rebuttal to follow.

The Top Ten Reasons or Excuses 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, this risk can be considerably reduced. Many pet food companies, such as Royal Canin, now make foods specifically formulated for this tendency and your veterinarian can also provide you with healthy guidelines to safely monitor your cat’s weight.

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.

My boys – Rolz (4 years), Kizmet (7 months), and Zee (7 years). Because they have all been neutered, there are no issues in our house with overly aggressive fighting or marking the furniture with urine spray. They still enjoy typical cat play and wrestling and the neutering has definitely not “emasculated” any of them.

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 that notwithstanding, 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, that you might find yourself responsible for an unexpected litter of kittens, or worse yet, a tragic accident as a result of roaming.

4.  It is not fair to the cat to deprive them of their natural right to reproduce. Severe overpopulation and the fact that the overall health of the cat is significantly improved should override any need for a cat to procreate for reasons outside of responsible breeding.

Peanut and Mia will never experience giving birth, as they were both spayed several years ago, but that does not mean they are living an unfulfilled life. They are very happy, sweet, warm, and loving cats who are extremely well-adjusted and content.

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 that let this trend continue, we must encourage TNR 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.

As our spay/neuter series progressed this month, we have discussed the overall picture of spay/neuter – from examining just how young cats can conceive, to the health and emotional benefits to the cat from the procedure, to how it helps reduce and control over population in shelters and on the streets, to dispelling the misconceptions about the subject. Next week we will take a more reflective look at spay/neuter – as in, just what do the overwhelming statistics about cat overpopulation mean and what is the most effective way to make sense of the staggering numbers by employing the tactic of spay/neuter as a real solution to reducing the numbers.

Other Related Reading:

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

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

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  1. Fantastic series!! Wishing those that NEED to see it WILL!

    • Deb says:

      Thanks Caren… and you’ve got that right… the uphill battle and hard part is getting this message out to the mainstream and not just to our cat niche that has already heard all this!

  2. Marg says:

    That is the whole problem is getting the facts out to the people that need to know. It is hard to do. But that is a good start. My neighbors where all the cats that I have, were just plain too lazy to have them spayed and neutered and to feed too. They loved watching the kittens play but then it was too much trouble to walk outside and feed them. Made me sick.

  3. Another good post on this subject. Hope it gets out to those who can use it most. Purrs and hugs, Lily Olivia, Mauricio, Misty May, Giulietta, Fiona, Astrid, Lisbeth and Calista Josette

  4. mariodacat says:

    Thanks for your work in educating about spay and neuter. I totally agree with you.

  5. We can’t believe the excuses people come up with to not spay/neuter. Great post!

  6. Peggy Frezon says:

    Great explanations that should help many cat parents. I am discussing the issue regarding weight gain on my blog. Thank you for helping with such solid explanations. I can’t imagine people preferring euthanasia to spay/neuter.
    Peggy
    Btc4a.com
    Http://peggyfrezon.blogspot.com

    • Deb says:

      Thank you Peggy – I appreciate you stopping by to comment and that you will be blogging in further detail on the weight gain issue. People have all sorts of odd reasons and excuse for a lot of things they do that can boggle the mind… Anyhow, I hope you get a chance to read the other posts in my series and I am going to go hook up with you on facebook!!

  7. meowmeowmans says:

    FANTASTIC. I love how you address all of those points that get brought up again and again. Number 5 always drives us nuts. I mean, seriously? And then what happens after that miracle is over?

  8. da tabbies o trout towne says:

    Z & Z…ya wood think peepulz wood bee happee ta haz their kitteh spayed ore neutered az it promotes long life…but…we iz catz…N whata we noe huh ….!

    • Deb says:

      Yeah… well, thank goodness more and more kitties are speaking up so that the humans will listen, da tabbies!! Oh, and BTW… please tell Dai$y there is a gorgeous picture of our Mr. Jazz in Caturday’s post!!! xoxox

  9. Linda says:

    Such a great article about a super important subject, people need to realize by spaying/neutering their cats, they are directly saving other cats lives, and when they don’t s/n, they are causing the death of innocent cats. Thank you Deb for such a well written, informative article. You are helping cats everywhere!

    • Deb says:

      Thank you Linda. I sure do hope I am helping cats… goodness knows I am trying!! I really appreciate your comment and thanks for dropping by!

  10. KimT says:

    Superb listing of misunderstandings about spay/neuter. Kudos! This needs to be shared far and wide, there are too many people who unfortunately believe at least some of the above!

    Thank you for blogging the change for animals,
    Kim Thomas
    btc4animals.com
    cindylusmuse.blogspot.com

    • Deb says:

      Thank you Kim…. I hope for a day when this message becomes part of mainstream culture and language. Thank you also for all you do at btc4animals

  11. Hi Deb, I just went through and read all three parts of your series on spay/neuter and it is excellent. As someone who works with a TNR program I can say you have hit on all the excuses I have heard from people who are hesitant about getting their cats altered.

    This is a small town but in the past three years we have spayed/neutered almost three thousand cats, over eight hundred this past year. We have an event scheduled for this Saturday with two volunteer vets, four volunteer vet students, two shelter staff and other volunteers. We offer low cost procedures for feral cats as well as low income families who cannot afford regular veterinary care. The key to success is to education of the public. It is an ongoing process and does not happen overnight. But equally important is the involvement of veterinary professionals who are willing to give of their time to help our cause.

    We encourage pediatric spays/neuters. Younger cats recover faster and will be healthier in the long run. In addition to the spay/neuter we also give each cat rabies vaccine, RCP (upper respiratory vaccine, flea treatment and a microchip. Feral cats who are part of a colony are ear tipped, other cats get an ear tattoo. We do not actually charge a fee but we do encourage donations.

    It all starts on a local level. Keep getting the information out there and encourage folks to support the program in their area. Thanks Deb!

    Judy

    • Deb says:

      Thank you Judy – I appreciate you dropping by and giving your support and additional information. I am trying to compile a list of communities that employ TNR programs successfully so that positive examples can be cited when I talk about the subject. Would you mind letting me know where you are located or if you any links to stories written up about it? Deb

      Thank you also for all that you do to help the cats of your community!

  12. Wonderful job at making this message urgent, compelling and so easy to understand. A little bit of knowledge goes a LONG way. I didn’t know anything about anything when it comes to cats until I started blogging. What an amazing and knowledgable community we have! I am SO much better prepared to be a responsible pet guardian.

    When it came time to bring a new kitten into the family, the fact that the kitty already be spayed or neutered was non-negotiable.

    Oh, and for the food…I have BOTH Katie and Waffles eating Royal Canin’s Spayed/Neutered Formula. They LOVE it…prefer it to anything else I put in front of them. And it’s really helping Katie get to her ideal weight.

    xo, Glogirly

  13. Thanks for mentioning that there are low- to no-cost options. There are so many great organizations out there that offer this! Spay Neuter Kansas City charges a whopping $15. What a deal – and so many people are unaware of these great unsung organizations who offer these services!