I was surprised to find out that spaying and neutering cats and dogs is not without controversy. I have always been very much for getting pets fixed because I just don’t see the need to have any more puppies or kittens in this world than the ones that are already looking for homes. Many folks think that the animal will miss their reproductive parts, or that they will gain weight. Or, that they should at least reproduce once for their health and longevity.
Despite slim statistics on the contrary–spaying and neutering SAVES LIVES! Period. There really isn’t any way to argue other than the fact that up to 4 million shelter pets each year are euthanized. Why? Not because they are rabid, feral creatures that need to be destroyed, but because of over-crowding, and lack of resources and funding. There are 5 stray pets for every human in this country. Why do we still need to convince ourselves that cats and dogs need to breed?
When you get a pet from a breeder, even the breeder recommends that you get that puppy or kitten fixed. There are enough breeders out there to continue with the conformity standards of an American Kennel Club dog. Unless you want to enter your dog in an AKC show in the conformation portion of the contest, you can have a fixed dog in most kennel club shows. Check the rules that apply.
Research finds that health drawbacks of neutering or spaying a pet before puberty are still up for discussion. The American Veterinary Medical Association leaves the decision of when to sterilize a pet, up to the discretion of the individual veterinarian.
Early neutering before puberty has a possible effect on epidemiological factors such as bone density, some urinary tract issues and possible cancers. Most vets neuter or spay around 6 months of age. This is the time they reach sexual maturity. Are they fully mature yet? No. But this is the time they are physically capable of reproducing and to be honest, we need more pet birth control in this country–not less of it.
What we must remember is the glaring statistic of homeless pets. Millions and millions of dogs and cats DIE because they just don’t get to good homes. Most likely these animals were from a litter of kittens or puppies of a very well-intentioned owner, but there are no guarantees if the home you adopt a kitten to on Craig’s List is going to be that pet’s forever home. And then that cat has kittens. And those kittens have kittens. It’s never ending.
Here are some reasons to think about why you should neuter/spay your cat or dog. Common sense logic:
A dog looking to mate is most likely to wander. Depending on where you live this poses issues. Would your neighbor be unhappy with your dog getting in their yard and trying to mate with their dog? What if a car hit your dog? What if your dog was picked up by animal control? What if your dog wanders and never comes back home?
Just something to think about.
Females in heat. I don’t know about you, but I heard that animals in heat are a messy situation. I don’t want to deal with that on top of all the other issues I deal with constantly cleaning up every day after two kids, a husband and 3 pets!
Your cat or dog gets pregnant. Now what? You’re responsible for the veterinary care. Could it go easily and without complications? Sure. And let’s say it does. You can have a litter of 2 to 10 puppies or kittens that you are now responsible for. Sounds cute at first, but I’m pretty sure this will get a little hairy! No pun intended.
You think you want your children to experience what it’s like for puppies or kittens to be born. I have an answer to that. It’s called Animal Planet. We live in an age where anything is available via the Internet or on DVD. You can purchase online or check out from a library, a number of programs that show kittens and puppies being born. And since little kids love watching things over and over again–how nice is it that you don’t have to clean up afterwards! Or be responsible for vet bills and potty training.
Behaviors change too after you get a pet spayed or neutered. Male dogs don’t feel the need to dominate or roam. If they are aggressive, neutering can help counteract that aggression. Female dogs or cats won’t need to be in heat if they are spayed. And male cats won’t spray their territory if they’ve been neutered.
With proper diet and exercise, your pet shouldn’t become obese because they are fixed. They will not miss their parts! A female cat or dog will not miss not having a litter or the ability to have offspring. These are human emotions that cats and dogs just don’t feel.
As much as the argument could be to keep their virility for other health reasons, isn’t the most humane reason to lower our homeless pet population?
We love our pets so much. But allowing animals to breed needlessly is what’s filling up our shelters. They can’t do this without us. As responsible pet owners, it’s the right thing to do.
Spay or neuter your cat or dog.
There are many ways of finding free or reduced-charge spay/neuter clinics that are convenient to you.
Check with the ASPCA or Humane Society to find out when these events occur in your area.
By Rebecca Gallagher