Featured artist: Shannon Crees

Benefits of desexing your cat

Featured artist: Shannon Crees
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Benefits of desexing your cat

Cats can start their reproductive lives at the very young age of 4–5 months. It has been calculated that in just 7 years, 1 female cat and her offspring can produce as many as 420,000 kittens. This problem highlights the importance of desexing pets at an early age and reducing the number of unwanted animals in our communities.

In addition to preventing unwanted litters, desexing may result in a positive behavioural change in your cat. Desexing may also minimise the chance of your cat developing reproductive organ related health issues that may have otherwise been detrimental to your cat's life.

A desexed cat is less likely to:

  • Wander or run away, especially males.
  • Contract Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) (also known as Feline AIDS), through territorial fighting with other cats that may have the virus.
  • Develop certain type of tumours such as uterine, ovarian and mammary (breast) cancer in females and possibly testicular cancer in males (less common).
  • Get into fights over territory or mating partners as mentioned above, this reduces injuries such as abscesses, car trauma and infected wounds which are often serious and sometimes fatal.
  • Anti social behaviour towards people or other animals, thus reducing the enjoyment of owning a pet and disrupting the human bond.
  • Spray or mark its territory, which is often the house. This often has the same effect as the point discussed above.

There are significant costs involved in caring for a litter of kittens. A cat can have an average of 4–6 kittens per litter. Each kitten must be fed, wormed, and treated for fleas. It is also a legal requirement that each kitten must be microchipped before they are sold or given away. They should also be vaccinated at 6–8 weeks of age (this is repeated at 12–14 weeks and 16–18 weeks depending on the vaccine and the protocol used). All this can add up to $180–$250 per kitten for the first 8 weeks alone. Desexing your cat is a much easier and less expensive option.

If you are having difficulties meeting the financial requirements of desexing, you may qualify for a financial assistance program that is offered at some organisations. For further information contact:

Myths and facts

There are many myths about desexing. Following your cats recovery from what is a routine and reasonably straight forward procedure, there are only positive side effects for both you and your cat to look forward to.

Myth: My cat will get fat and lazy

An overweight cat is the result of too much food and lack of exercise. It has nothing to do with being desexed. Most pets are desexed at an age when they are becoming an adult and therefore they don't exercise as much as they use to as a kitten. This is then interpreted as being due to the desexing because it was done at the same time. Invariably, it is just the energy requirements needed by your cat at this stage are changing.

Myth: I just want him/her to have 1 litter

There is no medical or behavioural advantage for a cat to have a litter. It is stressful, expensive and provides no positive benefit to the queen (mother cat). It is actually more beneficial if a cat does not even have a heat cycle as this reduces the chance of your cat developing mammary cancer to almost zero.

Myth: The surgery is too painful

It is also painful giving birth to several kittens and then feeding them several times a day for up to 6 weeks. Any surgical procedure will cause some discomfort around the surgical site and your cat should be kept quiet in the immediate post operative period. Pain management is an important part of the surgery and your vet will ensure that this is adequate. Most of the problems post operations are related to cat's feeling good very quickly and wanting to run around thus possibly disrupting the surgical site than being in pain.

Myth: I want my children to see the miracle of birth

It would be more educational to teach children the benefits of desexing their pet cat and promoting responsible pet ownership. In more than 80% of cases, the birthing process takes place in the middle of the night and a lot of human contact with new born kittens is strongly discouraged. Though most queens have their kittens unassisted, a caesarean, if needed, will result in a bill of many hundreds of dollars.