CatRescue 901 is a small team of volunteers who are dedicated to helping cats in need in pounds and the community. We do not receive any funding and are only able to continue our vital rescue work thanks to the generosity of the community. Donations over $2 are tax deductible. Thank you for your support.
If you live with a companion animal the most important thing you can do is get them desexed. Every year in NSW more than 60,000 cats and dogs are destroyed in council pounds and shelters, and the majority of these animals will be killed during spring and summer. Many of these will be puppies and kittens.
These shocking statistics are not the only reason to desex your pet. Desexing is also vital for maintaining their health, increasing their life span and preventing antisocial behaviour. If you are experiencing financial difficulty there are many subsidised desexing programs available in NSW to help you meet these costs.
The following information presents an overview on the benefits of desexing, focusing on the health of the individual animal. But the bottom line is that if we are going to solve the problem of pet overpopulation and the seemingly endless cycle of killing homeless animals, it begins with you – the pet owner.
Click these links for more information and the benefits of desexing:
Improves Health & Prevents Disease
It is a proven and well known fact that desexing is essential for the health of companion animals, prevents disease and injury, and promotes longevity.
It’s hard to imagine why people choose not to desex their pet considering the benefits are so great in number.
Following is a brief list.
Desexing female cats prevents:
- Mammary Cancer: is the third most common tumour found in female cats. If a cat is desexed before she has her first heat cycle, there is an extremely low chance she will develop it.
- Pyometra: an infection of the uterus which is fatal if not treated during the very early stages.
- Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV): female cats can be infected with FIV when they mate.
- Injury: undesexed female cats are prone to wandering in their search for mates, placing them at enormous risk of being hit by cars. They can also sustain abscesses during mating and fighting.
- Depressed immune system & poor physical health: when a cat has multiple litters during her life she can become exhausted and develop poor physical health. The exhaustion of pregnancy and rearing kittens can also lead to a depressed immune system making her more susceptible to illness. On average, cats who are desexed live longer than cats who are allowed to breed.
- Tumours of the uterus & ovaries.
Desexing male cats prevents:
- Injury: undesexed male cats are prone to wandering in their search for mates and territory placing them at enormous risk of being hit by cars. If they fight with other cats any wounds they sustain can become infected and develop abscesses.
- Malignant tumours of the testicles.
- Prostate cancer and other associated issues: early desexing significantly reduces the risk of infections, cancers and prostate enlargement.
- Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV): undesexed male cats are driven to aggressive and territorial behaviour because of the excess testosterone in their bodies. They are at a huge risk of contracting diseases such as FIV when they fight with other cats.
Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV)
Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV), also referred to as Feline AIDS, is an infectious disease which attacks certain cells in the cat’s immune system. As the virus replicates and spreads, it compromises the body’s ability to fight off secondary infections.
Undesexed cats are the main carriers of FIV. Undesexed males are extremely territorial and will fight other cats for resources such as territory, food and mates. Undesexed female cats attract undesexed males from the neighbourhood because of their vocalisation and through the release of pheromones. Both fighting and mating is the most common way that FIV is spread, because infected cats have large amounts of the virus present in their blood.
Desexing your cat is the only way to protect them from this incurable disease, as it reduces the behaviours which predispose them coming into contact with FIV positive cats. A vaccine has been developed, however the protection it offers is far from complete.
Preventing Antisocial Behaviour
Spraying, wandering, fighting, excessive vocalisation and aggression are the most common traits of an undesexed cat. These antisocial behaviours can lead to disease, injury, and at the very least make it extremely difficult for the owners. The spraying will make the house and yard smell terrible and the vocalisation will lead to sleepless nights.
The behaviour of cats when they are not desexed is yet another compelling and common sense argument for desexing. Within a week after the surgery the hormones responsible for these antisocial activities will have entirely left the body, however it is always recommended that the cat be desexed prior to them reaching sexual maturity.
It is a common misconception that cats must be 6 months of age before they can be desexed. This is not only false, but an extremely irresponsible myth to perpetuate.
Female cats can become pregnant from 4 months of age, and fortunately it is now a common, safe and quick procedure to desex kittens from 8 weeks of age. The arguments used by vets who oppose juvenile desexing are all unsubstantiated, and based on emotions or a lack of experience.
If your vet is not trained to desex kittens then find one who is. The Cat Protection Society, Animal Welfare League and the RSPCA all work with vets who have had this training which involves keyhole surgery and sutures on the flank.
Not Enough Homes
There are simply not enough homes for all of the cats and dogs being born. This problem is made significantly worse because the majority of litters are born within weeks of each other at a time known as ‘breeding season’, the peak of which coincides with Christmas when most people are away on holidays. The future for a homeless animal will almost certainly be tragically short, making the ethical argument for desexing the most compelling.
People are often under the impression that rehoming kittens is an easy thing to do, but this is not the case. During breeding season you will be competing with tens of hundreds of people also needing to rehome kittens; additionally the pounds will be full, as will welfare centres and the only option they will be able to offer you is euthanasia. The older the kittens become, the harder they will be to rehome – by 10 weeks of age kittens are significantly harder to find homes for, and at 12 weeks of age, during breeding season, it is virtually impossible. At 16 weeks, the female kittens can begin to breed – what will you do then?
If you are successful in rehoming your kittens’ homeless animals will be denied homes, and as a direct consequence will probably be destroyed. At the very least, please consider the animals in pounds – their suffering and their bleak fate – before you choose not to desex your pet.
CatRescue 901 is contacted on a regular basis by people who have allowed their cat to have kittens, been unable to find them homes, and in the interim the kittens have either begun to breed, or the mother cat has had her second litter. These people have inadvertently ended up with more cats than they can afford and responsibly care for. What do they do? They can continue to attempt to rehome the kittens (most likely undesexed, not vaccinated or microchipped) or they can surrender them to a pound or shelter. The outcome being that they will most likely be killed.
Reducing the shocking statistic of healthy loving pets destroyed each year in NSW is easier than we think. The solution lies with each individual and the choices we make. Be a part of this solution and have your pet desexed now.
Protecting the Environment
Undesexed cats readily feed into populations of stray cats, and the ensuing generations can become feral. Stray and feral cats can threaten wildlife through predation, and can also cause a great deal of distress to landowners who may not have the resources to provide them with appropriate care.
Incredibly, over a 7 year period 470,000 offspring can be created from a single undesexed cat. As a consequence, many wildlife groups and environmental lobbyists are strong supporters of desexing because of the problems which will occur otherwise.
Desexing your pet is a basic and vital part of responsible pet care. If you are experiencing financial difficulties there are organisations which have created subsidised desexing programmes to help you meet the costs involved. Please click here for a list of these organisations.
It is also important to consider the cost of not desexing your pet. Even at the full price, desexing is significantly cheaper than feeding and caring for a litter of kittens, plus incurring veterinary costs if there are complications. Cats can begin breeding at 4 months of age and will have on average 4 kittens in each litter. At 4 months of age, these kittens can then start breeding with each other. Can you imagine how many animals you will then be responsible for, and the costs involved?