Thousands of companion animals are born every year in our region without a loving home to take them in. They are euthanized or live and die in the streets, a direct result of pet overpopulation. Spaying/neutering our companion animals will help control and reduce this epidemic and provide many other benefits to the animals and community.
Top 10 Reasons to Spay/Neuter Your Pet (Humane Alliance/ASPCA)
Spaying—the removal of the ovaries and uterus—is a veterinary procedure performed under general anesthesia that usually requires minimal hospitalization. Spaying a female cat or dog helps prevent pyometra (pus-filled uterus) and breast cancer. Treatment of pyometra requires hospitalization, intravenous fluids, and antibiotics. Breast cancer can be fatal in about 50 percent of female dogs and in 90 percent of female cats. Spaying your pet before her first heat offers the best protection from these diseases.
Besides preventing unwanted litters, neutering your male dog or cat—the surgical removal of the testicles—prevents testicular cancer.
Neutered cats and dogs focus their attention on their human families. On the other hand, unneutered dogs and cats may mark their territory by spraying strong-smelling urine all over the house. Indoors, male dogs may embarrass you by mounting on furniture and human legs when stimulated. Aggression problems can be avoided by early neutering, though neutered dogs protect their homes and families just as well as unneutered dogs.
While cycles can vary greatly, female felines usually go into heat for four to five days every three weeks during breeding season. In an effort to advertise for mates, they will yowl and urinate more frequently—sometimes all over the house. Unspayed female dogs generally have a bloody discharge for about a week, and can conceive for another week or so.
An intact male in search of a mate will do just about anything to get one! That includes digging his way under the fence and making like Houdini to escape from the house. And once he is free to roam, he risks injury from traffic and fights with other males.
The cost of your pet’s spay/neuter surgery is a lot less than the cost of caring for a litter. It also beats the cost of treatment when your unneutered tom escapes and gets into fights with neighborhood strays… or the cost of cleaning the carpet that your unspayed female keeps mistaking for her litter box… or the cost of… well, you get the idea!
The cost for animal control and housing/caring for an animal in a shelter is 4 to 5 times more on average than a low cost spay/neuter, saving tax payers money. Stray animals often pose problems between neighbors, create neighborhood nuisances, and cause vehicular accidents.
We have heard many people say that they don’t want their pet to be spayed/neutered because their children will miss the miracle of birth. But you know what? Letting your pet produce offspring you have no intention of keeping teaches your children irresponsibility. Anyone who has seen an animal euthanized in a shelter for lack of a home knows the truth behind this dangerous myth. There are countless books and videos available to teach your children about birth in a responsible manner, without sacrificing animals to do so.
Lack of exercise and overfeeding will cause your pet to pack on the extra pounds, not neutering. Your pet will remain fit and trim as long as you continue to provide exercise and monitor food intake.
And last, but certainly not least, thousands of cats and dogs of all ages and breeds in Southern West Virginia are euthanized annually or suffer as strays. These high numbers are the result of unwanted, unplanned litters that could have been prevented by spaying or neutering. We at the Fix’Em Clinic are dedicated to providing a non-lethal solution to the problem of pet overpopulation.
Community Cats, Feral Cats and Trap-Neuter-Return
Community Cat is used to describe any free-roaming, outdoor cat. Some are not socialized with people (Feral), while others are friendly and may have been lost or abandoned by their previous families (Stray). Because they live outside and oftentimes are being fed and cared for by one or more neighbors, they are called community cats.
A feral cat is one that lives outside and is not socialized to humans. Feral cats can live long, healthy lives, content in their colonies, where they have access to food and shelter. However, an unmanaged colony can become a problem, with rampant breeding and the onset of problem mating behaviors.
Feral cats should not be taken to the animal shelter, as they are not adoptable and can, therefore, only be euthanized. Catching and killing such cats is also an ineffective method; aside from the ethical considerations, when cats are removed from an area, survivors breed to capacity or new cats move in. Stray kittens and cats that are friendly and socialized to people may be adopted into homes.
Cats choose their territories for a variety of reasons. Usually it’s because of a food source or the shelter an area provides. Removing cats doesn’t address whatever drew the cats to the area in the first place, so new cats will move in, or the few remaining cats will breed again to capacity. This is called the Vacuum Effect. Some communities mistakenly spend lots of money rounding up and removing all the cats, only to have a new group move in a year or two later, and continue producing more unwanted kittens.
The Trap-Neuter-Return method (TNR) is the most humane and effective method available to end the community cat overpopulation crisis in our region. TNR stabilizes the colony size by eliminating new litters. It also reduces the nuisance behavior associated with unsterilized cats. TNR’s most measurable effect is that fewer cats/kittens flow through animal shelters, resulting in lower euthanasia rates and increased adoptions of shelter cats. Scientific studies show that TNR improves the lives of feral cats, improves their relationships with the people who live near them, and decreases the size of colonies over time.
- A feral cat colony is identified.
- Cats are trapped humanely.
- Cats are transported to a clinic for surgery.
- Cats are given a rabies vaccination (at minimum).
- Cats have their left ear “tipped” for future identification.
- Feral cats return to their colony within 48 hours. Stray cats that are friendly and socialized to people may be adopted into homes.
- Volunteers feed and care for the cat colony.