World Spay Day is here and it’s more important than ever that the benefits of spaying and neutering are made clear.
With the gloomy start to the year, it’s safe to assume that everyone is looking forward to the arrival of spring and summer, but the summer months also mark the beginning of Kitten season.
Kitten season is the period from April to late autumn that sees the highest rate of pregnancy and birth in cats. At this time a huge amount of pressure is put on rehoming centres as they receive a large influx of pregnant cats and kittens, all of which need special care and attention.
The cat population in the UK has reached a level that’s putting increasing pressure on rehoming centres. The large number of cats and kittens received are mainly due to cats which haven’t been spayed or neutered. There currently aren’t enough homes available for the quantity of unwanted kittens.
Kittens reach sexual maturity at around the age of four months and are capable of breeding and producing kittens at this time. It’s at this age that cat owners are recommended to have their cats neutered or spayed. Traditional beliefs that cats shouldn’t be neutered until they were six months old, or that female cats should be allowed to have one litter aren’t based on any scientific rationale and are not valid excuses to avoid neutering. Even for cats that don’t go outside and are unlikely to be involved in unplanned litters, there are plenty of other benefits that improve the quality of life of the cat and owner.
Male and female cats that haven’t been neutered are at greater risk of contracting certain illnesses and diseases. FIV is spread by fighting and mating in male cats, behaviours which are prevalent in unneutered cats. The risk of testicular cancer is also reduced in neutered males. Unneutered females are at risk from infections of the womb and mammary tumours as well as the risks attached to giving birth.
Unneutered male cats often display unsociable behaviour that makes them difficult to keep as pets. They can be aggressive towards their owners and spray to mark their territory inside the house. They also much more likely to wander far from home and may not return.
Female cats that haven’t been spayed will ‘call’ every two to three weeks and attract male cats, which brings the associated problems of fighting, caterwauling and marking their territory by spraying.
The issues aren’t just with cats, as those that have kittens, and especially those who aren’t given any kind of regular food, will hunt more frequently which poses a danger to other wildlife.
International Cat Care is working in partnership with other animal welfare charities to raise awareness about the issue. There are a number of events running for World Spay Day, details of which can be found on the Cats Protection website by clicking the link below.