I think, therefore I harm
Many new cat owners may ask themselves if they should sterilize (spay/neuter) their cats. This article attempts to show why they should.
Also called spaying or neutering, sterilization is the surgical removal of the reproductive organs. For males, it is the removal of the testicles (orchiectomy), and for females, the removal of both the uterus and the ovaries (ovario-hysterectomy).
These are considered routine surgeries and don’t normally pose any significant risk, other than the risks inherent to anesthesia.
Most cats become sexually mature anywhere between the age of 6 to 10 months, and it is preferable that they get sterilized before that age. Therefore, it is generally suggested that your cats get fixed by 6 months of age. It is safe to get them fixed as early as 8 week, however most veterinarians will not perform the surgery before 4 months of age.
There are millions of homeless cats, and many more millions stuck in animal shelters. There is no need to produce more cats. Even if you already know people who will take the kittens, it would be better that they pick their cats from shelters rather than produce more kittens.
If your cats are allowed outside, they will mate, and do it often. Even if they are not allowed, cats often find a way out, or they could mate with each other if you have cats of different gender in your house.
Unlike humans, and a few other species in nature, cats don’t mate for the pleasure of it. While they possibly enjoy the act, they really do it to answer their instinct, not primarily for fun.
Females have heats on average every 2 to 6 weeks, and each heat lasts 3-5 days. During that period, she actively seeks a mate. She will yowl loudly for hours on end, and there is very little you can do to prevent that behavior. She will seek a way out, no matter how, in order to find a mate. Cats have been seen destroying a window screen to reach outside, or patiently waiting that someone opens a door to run out. She will feel frustration and could become aggressive toward people, or become less affectionate. Males in your neighborhood will hear and smell her and will spray everywhere conceivable around your house. Fixing her is the only way to prevent these irritable and painful behaviors.
Unlike females, males are always ready to mate, and essentially seek a mate everyday. He will spray your house to mark his territory. He will seek a way out to find a mate. As he is unsatisfied, he will grow frustrated and will ignore you or even become aggressive toward you. Fixing a cat normally eliminates these behaviors.
Sterilization reduces or eliminates many health problems. Risks of certain cancers are greatly reduced in fixed cats, and even more when they are sterilized before puberty.
Males are subject to testicular diseases, and fixing them will remove completely all risks.
Unfixed females are subject to uterine diseases, such as pyometra (a lethal infection of the uterus). Furthermore, they run a great risk of mammary tumors if they are not fixed before puberty.
Like humans, cats can also contract diseases while mating, such as feline leukemia and feline herpes. Even if their shots are up to date, vaccines help prevent illnesses but are not 100% effective.
Generally speaking, fixed cats live longer and happier.
Indeed, it is. Some will argue that it makes no sense to pay four times what they paid for the cat in the first place, but the reality is that your cat is going to cost you much more than the price tag at the pet shop, no matter what.
In Canada and USA, neutering a male cost anywhere between $60-$80, while spaying a female could reach $130-$150. Furthermore, most veterinary clinics mandate that vaccines be up to date before they are allowed in for the surgery, as they could get viruses from other cats during their stay.
While these costs may seem like a lot, these are fees which should be taken into consideration from the moment one chooses to adopt a cat. It is part of the cat owner’s responsibilities.
In most areas, it is possible to find cheap clinics which will perform these surgeries for a lower price. Since these are routine intervention, the risks are not necessarily greater, however these clinics usually offer little services other than the most basic treatments.
There is a debate about whether cats get lazy and fat when they are fixed. While it is true that removing all sexual behaviors from their life will give them more free time, cats should be given more activities to compensate. Make sure they have toys and places to climb and jump. Spend more time with them. As long as they remain active, there is no reason for your cats to gain weight after sterilization.
Any responsible cat lovers should get their cats fixed, and if possible before their puberty. It is the best decision that you could take toward your loved creatures.