There are any number of reasons to spay or neuter your dogs and cat: reduce the risk of reproductive-organ cancers in both male and female pets; lead to better behaved females because they no longer go into heat; make for longer-lived males because they feel less competitive towards other males and are less likely to fight and roam.
I could name a dozen more reasons without much effort, but as someone who works in pet rescue my number one reason is pictured below.
Yesterday, I trapped these two kittens, part of a litter of four that was born in someones backyard. I was surprised they were so young since it’s not kitten season—and, yes, there is a kitten season. Female cats have smart bodies. They know when they should go into heat so that she can birth, nourish and ween her babies with plenty of time for them to become independent and resourceful before they are left alone to the elements. Kittens born in late fall and in winter do not stand a great chance of survival, even in the milder winters we have here in the bay area.
A kitten has very little immune system. Not all kittens born to a well-fed, healthy, and sheltered house cat always survive; those born to a feral or abandoned stray have even lower odds. Particularly when the night temperatures are low. Kittens can die of exposure, and they are much more prone to respiratory infections and other illnesses that often prove fatal to someone so young and vulnerable. Then there are the more dramatic results of kittens being born during the colder weather seasons.
Last spring, a litter I had been trying to trap climbed into a car engine to keep warm. The next day when that engine was turned on all but one died—the remaining kitten survived for two or three days with injuries that would have killed a person. I finally did trap him, not quite convinced (because I didn’t want to be) that I was only trapping him to have him euthanized and end a suffering I cannot even begin to imagine.
Again, I could mention all the reasons why spaying and neutering your pets is a good choice for both pet and owner, but instead, I’m going tell you why it’s good for me.
I didn’t enjoy climbing through litter-filled, insect covered overgrown shrubbery trying to locate a litter of kittens.
I didn’t enjoy listening to neighbors complain about all the “stray cats” when they had no intention of doing a damn thing about it.
I didn’t enjoy finding one of the kittens I had been trying to trap for weeks in the street one morning.
I didn’t enjoy euthanizing sick cats whose owners let them roam free, unspayed, unvaccinated only to abandon them when they became sick.
I didn’t enjoy treating feral kittens for mange, ringworm, ear mites, and all the other nasty things they are prone to.
I didn’t enjoy holding a six-week old kitten in my arms, looking at his injuries and seeing bone, flesh, and tendons, things I normally only saw when cutting up a raw chicken (something I hope never to do again).
Yes, I’m being selfish. I work in animal rescue and it is my most profound hope that responsible pet owners will someday put me out of a job.
Charles on behalf of Purrfect Cat Rescue