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

Millions of cats and kittens are euthanized each year - something that could be prevented with spay/neuter measures.

Kizmet was found at a PetSupermarket adoption event – he was one of the lucky ones that now has a loving furever home.

If you are on Facebook and you are a cat lover, chances are about 100% that you have seen one of those heart wrenching photos of a cat that will be euthanized in XYZ amount of time if you don’t rescue and adopt it immediately. A brutal hourglass of time, each precious grain of sand representing a living, breathing creature, slipping cruelly away as we scroll from one post to the next…

While I understand the intention of the photo, it is a sad fact to state from the comfort of my house, I am virtually helpless to save that cat’s life and have conditioned myself to disconnect from the image and quickly move on as the overall concept is just too painful and unbearable to comprehend. Sure, I can share the post and hope someone sees it and adopts the cat, but let’s be honest, I cannot possibly share every picture of every cat that has an expiration date, so the reality is that cats, a species that I love with all of my heart, are dying and I can’t make it stop.

Time. We spend endless moments of time all day as we try to get from point A to point B with no real thought of each passing minute whatsoever, other than that is how we function. Brushing our teeth in the morning. Driving to work. Standing in line. Waiting for a commercial to be over. Eating lunch. Checking our email. All of those seemingly insignificant, casual, taken for granted moments throughout the day are when cats and kittens, dozens or hundreds at a time, that collectively add up to millions a year, will be taken out of their cage or environment and will no longer have a heartbeat as the privilege of time is taken from them.

The purpose of this post is not to preach or to debate the subject of euthanization. I have heard all sides of the issue and I am not writing to judge the how’s or why’s or if we should or shouldn’t do it and I am not asking any of you to share your beliefs on the subject. The bottom line is that it happens and until we get cat overpopulation under control, it will continue to happen. What I am trying to shout out to a worldwide audience that barely hears me whisper, is  just how critical spaying and neutering is to solving this everyday occurrence and that we must get this vital message out to people outside of cat circles that already knows this information so that we do not have to see yet another picture of a cat with a deadline.

I know that all creatures have an expiration date, humans included, and all we can do is hope for a long and healthy life. Illnesses happen, accidents happen, and time is not always kind to us. But the thing with cat overpopulation that is inexcusable in such an advanced and educated nation is that we CAN prevent it, or at the very least make it more manageable, and as a result, we can stop tragic euthanizations from happening in the first place.

It’s all about perspective. Why must we take the approach that these animals are disposable to solve a problem when we should be focusing time and effort on education and responsibility about the subject?  The fact that spay/neuter is an effective, safe, and humane means of controlling cat overpopulation does not require any further research like finding a cure for cancer does. If cats can’t mate, unplanned kittens can’t be born. How much simpler can it get and why is it such a struggle to make that point? With that basic applied logic, just as quickly as the cat population adds up, with responsibility, the reverse can happen so that less and less cats and kittens would have to ultimately die because they could not find a home in time.

And please, I am not trying to over simplify the issue. Cats are controversial and they always have been. There will always be people for some incomprehensible reason that hate cats and will not embrace managed TNR programs, thinking that obliterating them from the face of the earth is justified. There will always be people that you just can’t reach with your message who will not get their cat altered, not necessarily because they don’t want to, but for the simple fact they don’t know any better. Some will have every excuse in the book why they will not spay or neuter their cat, and some people simply just don’t care one way or another and think the problems of the world belong to someone else to solve.

Bottom line, cats are not going to become an endangered species if we become more responsible. There will always be kittens, both planned and accidental. But just think about it. In the time it took to read this post, so much could have happened. A kitten could have just been born. A cat could have just been euthanized. A phone call could have been made to schedule a spay/neuter appointment with the vet or an outdoor cat could have been trapped to also be scheduled for sterilization. Cats could be having sex right now – kittens being conceived. Or cats could also be adopted as you read this, or someone could learn something new about spay/neuter and teach it to someone else – all in the moments of the grains of sand in an hourglass. It’s just all in what you do with the moments of time that matter.

Millions of cats and kittens are in shelters in need of a good home

For a cat that is looking for a furever home, all it takes is one person to make a difference that lasts a lifetime.

All I want is for time to be treated with respect, as it represents both life and death. There is a wealth of information on the subject of spay/neuter so talk about it whenever you can. Teach our youth about the importance. Use whatever method best suits you, no matter how small or large the contribution – whether it be volunteering at a shelter, donating money, blogging about it, fostering, managing a feral colony – it all adds up and it all matters, but the effort will only work if you get involved and participate in wanting change to happen.

At the very least, if you don’t want to participate and you have a cat, please get the cat altered for the health and behavioral benefits it will give him or her. And even that picture of the cat that I said I could not save, maybe you can. Maybe the circle I share it in is not able to connect with it, but maybe the circle you are in is. We at least have to try…


For further information on spay/neuter, cat overpopulation, and more 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 – Making Sense of Cat Overpopulation When the Numbers Don’t Add Up

To read what spay/neuter means to me personally, please stop by Cat Chat With Caren and Cody for my special story.

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  1. This summed it up for me “If cats can’t mate, unplanned kittens can’t be born. How much simpler can it get and why is it such a struggle to make that point? With that basic applied logic, just as quickly as the cat population adds up, with responsibility, the reverse can happen so that less and less cats and kittens would have to ultimately die because they could not find a home in time.” Well said and so true.

    Thank you for putting your heart and soul into educating the public and sharing this message.

    • Deb says:

      Thank you Caren – I didn’t mean to make it seem so simple, but it really truly is not rocket science when you think about it… what a strange society that we live in that it has to be so hard to sell such basic logic. Sigh… anyhow, you are very welcome and I hope one day that posts like this are no longer necessary! xoxox

  2. da tabbies o trout towne says:

    Deb; by far, the BEST post I’ve read yet about spay and neuter; bravo, bravo, bravo…. By the grace of God this post and others similar to it will reach a staggering number of people who not only read it, but adhere to it’s message as well….this post should be made into a pamphlet and displayed at and passed out, at every shelter, veterinary office, pet store, and food specialty shop. I commend you on this work


    • Deb says:

      Laura –

      This is so close to my heart and your kind words of support have brought me to tears… thank you so much for acknowledging how truly important this effort is. I would be more than happy to work collectively with shelters, vets offices, etc. and think your pamphlet idea is a great one. I will have to coordinate this somehow with the nonprofit I am part of, Pawsitively Humane. xoxox

  3. Bravo, Deb! It’s Spay Day today but one day, I hope we won’t need a day to mark it because everyone heard the message 🙂 Now to pop over to Caren’s.

  4. Well said. Wouldn’t it be nice to get to a point where we don’t have to inure ourselves to the death row photos of cats…because there are none? Oh how I hope we are actually moving the needle on awareness of the need to spay/neuter…!

  5. meowmeowmans says:

    Wow. Well said, Deb. Oh, for the day that spay/neuter is the norm…