Co-sponsored by Humane Society of the US and Humane Society International, World Spay Day 2013 will be held on Tuesday, February 26. Prior to that day we are doing our best to further raise awareness on the importance of spaying and neutering cats, both pet cats and those who are free-roaming. In under four years, I have had approximately 40 cats spayed/neutered. Many of those cats have gone on to be adopted, a few were placed in an animal sanctuary, and the remainder—because they could not be fully socialized— live their lives on their own terms out-of-doors.
Those 40 cats left to their on devices would have gone on to produce thousands of others over the course of their lives. There is a statistic commonly used by various animals groups that suggests one unspayed female can lead to a couple hundred thousand cats in her lifetime, but I think it’s flawed due to the variables you have to take into account: number of kittens in each litter; how many of each sex; how many survive to maturity; do the cats live in a temperate climate where two or three pregnancies per year are possible, and on and on. But it’s important to note that even if that statistic has been overblown just to make a point, the point itself is still worth making.
I usually make that point by talking about my nemesis Momma Threadgoode. (Yes, I name feral cats.) In the three-and-a-half years I have been actively trapping cats and kittens, five litters have belonged to Momma. While two-thirds of her kittens willingly walked into my trap, their mother has outwitted me at every turn. The story I tell people about her sidling up to me when I don’t have a trap but heading for the hills when she sees me with one, has an almost comic edge, but there is not actually anything funny about it. Of the 17 kittens I know to be born to her, seven did not survive their youths; and at least half of those died under very unpleasant circumstances.
At times I’m a little fanatical when telling people about spaying and neutering. It’s hard not to be. When you have had to trap and euthanize a kitten that suffered stomach-churning injuries after climbing into a car engine for warmth, you’re likely to develop a strong opinion on pet owners slacking off in their responsibilities . Those outdoor cats who do not meet such violent ends still have a difficult life out there on their own; something that was brought home to me this winter when I had to euthanize one of Momma’s free-roaming children, Idgie, who was just three years old but suffering from severe asthma.
Having World Spay Day as a vehicle to spread the word I preach daily is a great opportunity and a great help. The Humane Society has resources for people wanting to spay their companion animals, as well as people looking to help out the free-roaming cat population. Some agencies are lowering the cost of spays and neuters, and a few are even waiving their fees altogether. With so many shelters and rescues taking part, there is very likely one in your area, wherever you happen to be located.
For our own small part, we will be holding a Spay Day Event on Sunday, February 24 at our store at Newpark Mall from noon to 4 p.m. The first ten people to come in to purchase low-cost spay vouchers will receive one at a discounted rate, and we will be ending a fundraising raffle; the prizes include (among other things) two hand-made lap quilts. We hope you will join us.
Charles on behalf of PCR
This is Idgie shortly before I had her euthanized. Something a lot of people are surprised by is the trust that can be built between a feral animal and its caretaker. Not socialized enough to be adopted, she went back outdoors and remained there for three years with no more human intervention than a daily meal from me. Yet when she was sick and needed help, she allowed me to pick her up and carry her home, somehow knowing I was on her side.
Having euthanized several sick or wounded cats over the past couple of years, I have probably mentioned this before: It’s a unique privilege to see an animal through its death. However fierce or wild or antisocial it may have been in life, it welcomes your being there, holding it and caring about it, as that life ends.