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The Facts & Myths Of Spaying & Neutering Your Pet

June 21, 2013

When it comes to making a decision about a pet’s health, we naturally all want to make the best decision possible. Unfortunately, there’s a great deal of wrong information out there when it comes to spaying or neutering your pet, and that wrong information can make a complicated decision even more difficult.

Photo courtesy MowT.

So before you make a decision one way or another, take a moment to run through these myths – and facts – surrounding spaying and neutering.

First, take a moment to go over the basics about spaying and neutering. And now, on to the myths, and the truths behind those misconceptions:

Myth: Spaying or neutering a cat can result in undesirable changes, including laziness, obesity, and more.

Fact: Most cats become fat and lazy simply because they are fed too much and don’t get enough exercise.

Reevaluating your cat’s diet and activity level as he grows will help prevent unwanted weight gain and lethargy. Also, taking the time to play with your cat on a regular basis will help him learn to enjoy exercise more often and will help build your bond.

Myth: Neutering a male cat will make him feel less “manly” – less of a male.

Fact: While it’s understandable for people to process a neutering this way, the fact is cats don’t have the same sense of sexual identity as we do.

A cat won’t face an identity crisis once he’s neutered. This holds true with females as well.

Myth: Female cats should have at least one litter before spaying.

Fact: This is a dangerous myth, and the opposite is true.

Photo courtesy slworking2.

Medical evidence shows that cats who are spayed before their first heat very rarely develop mammary tumors. This is a dangerous myth because cats’ mammary tumors are much more malignant than those seen in dogs, and they have a worse prognosis.

In addition, spaying your female early can help reduce the risk of uterine infections and breast cancer.

Myth: I have to wait until my pet is 6 months old to be sterilized.

Fact: The American Veterinary Medical Association endorses “Early Age Neutering,” which means an animal can be spayed or neutered at the age of two months – or the weight of two pounds.

Sterilizing your pet at an early age not only protects their health, as mentioned above, but it also means they can recover more quickly.

Myth: Spay and neuter surgeries are risky.

Fact: If you go to an experienced vet, spays and neuters are some of the safest surgeries they can have, considering those surgeries are done so often. While there are always risks with any surgery, with a sterilization, the risk of complications is very low.

Myth: Spaying or neutering a cat deprives her or him from experiencing the joy of parenthood.

Fact: Again, this is simply an emotion or desire we as humans apply to our pets.

Animals don’t feel a sense of fulfillment by giving birth or being a mother or father; they won’t mourn their inability to reproduce. For them, reproduction is simply nature taking its course. Although mother cats do take care of their kittens for several weeks, it’s only to prepare them for life on their own. Similarly, father cats don’t recognize kittens as their children.

Myth: Breeding a cat will result in kittens that are exactly like the mother.

Fact: Just like with people, you can’t ever duplicate someone.

Even if you breed two purebreds, there’s no guarantee that the kittens will turn out exactly as their parents. This is even more true if mixed breeds are involved. Each cat is special in his own way. It’s important to enjoy your cat for who she is as long as she’s in your life. Grant her kittens the same respect, and appreciate them for their individual personalities and characteristics, too.

Myth: Watching a cat give birth and raise a litter of kittens can be a valuable life experience for you or your children.

Fact: This myth is particularly disturbing. As the ASPCA says, “The idea that a cat should have a litter so that children can witness the miracle of birth is troubling.” And I agree.

Photo courtesy eaghra.

If you want your child to learn about birth, there are many other resources (books, videos, etc.) that allows them to learn about the topic in a responsible way. Allowing a cat to birth a litter of kittens simply for education or life experience is irresponsible and ignores the very real issue of overpopulation in the world. If anything, it teaches the child that our selfish motives are more important than the cat’s well-being and her offspring’s.

Myth: Spaying or neutering is too expensive.

Fact: Many vet clinics around the U.S. offer low-cost spay and neuter surgeries. Click here to find a low-cost spay/neuter facility in your area.

If your current vet is very expensive, shop around and speak to other vet clinics in the area to find out their rates. While the cost may initially seem prohibitive, consider how much you’ll actually be saving in the long-run, considering your cat won’t need to visit the vet for other health issues that will arise from not being sterilized – not to mention the costs that will come up if your cat has a litter of kittens.

Myth: Low-cost spay/neuter programs can’t be trusted.

Fact: Although some people are skeptical about low-cost programs, they must understand that the costs are low simply to encourage people to spay and neuter their pets. These clinics want to make the surgeries affordable to everyone. Many clinics that offer low-cost programs actually spay and neuter hundreds, if not thousands, of pets each year, which makes them experts.

Need a bit more convincing? Check out these eight reasons to spay or neuter your cat.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. June 21, 2013 7:52 am

    Not sure if I’ve posted this info before, but it’s become one of my new causes. I mentioned to my new vet that Betty hadn’t been spayed because I was leery of the anesthesia with a cat who had neurological issues. He explained to me that when cats go into heat, they stay in heat until their pregnant or spayed. This is a big problem with indoor cats. Over the years, their little bodies are working at optimum efficiency for an intended pregnancy. Their little engines are running full steam–from the moment they first go into heat until they are spayed or pregnant.

    Here’s the scary part. If allowed to continue for a very long time, the uterus can become infected. Fatally.

    After I spoke with the vet, I made arrangements and took Betty in for spaying. It was one of the most frightening days of my life as I worried whether or not she would make it and if she would come out the same cat she went in. It was worth the worry. The vet had to remove her uterus along with her ovaries. He told me that it had been a matter of weeks before she started experiencing a fatal event.

    My recommendation to everyone I speak with about this is to make sure your vet is aware of and uses the anesthesias and procedures recommended by this CH site. Then take her in and have her spayed.

    My desire to keep Betty safe from anesthesia almost killed her.

    • June 21, 2013 11:30 am

      Ruth,
      Thank you so much for sharing. I’m going to to publish your comment as a post so everyone can see it. What an incredible experience! Hopefully this will help others, too.

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