February 26th is World Spay Day!!
What is it?
Spaying (females) and neutering (males) is a safe one-time surgical procedure to prevent pets from reproducing.
- Overpopulation is still a very real issue with companion animals in this country that causes suffering and premature deaths of millions of pets each year.
- According to the American Pet Products Association (APPA) – LOTS of people should care about this issue – 62% of U.S. households have a pet and more specifically, there are 86.4 million cats and 78.2 million dogs owned in this country.
- Overpopulation is worse with cats because of a number of factors.
- Average life span of a cat is longer than a dog’s.
- Larger stray/feral (cats living unprotected outdoors) population - In fact, at least one third of cats acquired in this country are taken in as strays (APPA).
- Cats can have 1-2 litters each year with 4-6 kittens per litter while a dog typically has one litter a year with 4-6 puppies.
- Spaying/Neutering can help prevent costly and life-threatening health issues such as testicular, uterine, ovarian, and mammary cancers.
- It costs less to spay/neuter than it does to raise a single pet (and there are usually multiple pets in each litter). You also won’t be responsible for finding homes for all the puppies & kittens.
- If your pets are spayed & neutered, you won’t have to deal with the messy diaper-like apparatus when the females are “in heat” (which can happen twice a year). Male cats and dogs can sense this from miles away. This can lead to stray animals marking territory with urine around your home.
- Male dogs that have been neutered will have less drive to mate and will be less likely to spray (marking with urine) or run away in search of a female in heat.
· “I don’t want to do that to my animal – it hurts me just thinking about it.” [Usually said by guys as they wince and cover their um.. manhood.]
o Answer: Very few species (outside of humans) mate for fun. Companion animals mate out of instinct. Your cat doesn’t dream of meeting a nice tabby someday and having a nice kitty condo with a picket fence and six kittens to raise. Spaying/neutering your pet makes them healthier. NOTE: Mounting behaviors can also be related to establishing dominance or a “pecking order” and can be exhibited in pets that have been altered.
· “I don’t know when to do it – shouldn’t my pet be older?”
o Answer: The American Veterinary Medical Association endorses Early Age Neutering. Cats and dogs need only be 2 months old or 2 pounds in weight. At a young age, animals recover quickly from surgery. Cats and dogs can successfully reproduce well before they are a year old – don’t wait!
· “I keep my pet indoors so I don’t need to worry about it.”
o Answer: If you have unaltered female pets, you will have to deal with the mess while they are in heat and even if you keep them confined, males will be drawn to your house. If you have an unaltered male, he will have a drive to get to females and could runaway and be more inclined to spray/urinate where you don’t want him to. Spaying/neutering also reduces the risks of certain cancers and can help with some aggressive and otherwise undesirable behaviors.
· “I don’t want my pet to get fat.”
o Answer: The only things that can make your pet fat is overfeeding and not enough exercise. Whether your pet is altered or not – pet parents fully control both of those variables.
From private veterinary practices to shelters to the city’s Animal Care & Control – there are many options for someone looking to get their pet spayed/neutered. The Anti-Cruelty Society offers free sterilizations to feral cats and pit bulls and low-cost spay/neuter surgeries to every pet parent (regardless of income or zip code). To learn more and schedule an appointment, go to: http://www.anticruelty.org/clinic/
Happy World Spay Day! Let’s work together until every pet has a home.