How important is the cost of spaying and neutering a cat in tackling the so called “cat overpopulation problem” or the “feral cat problem” or the excess of community cats in the United States and in other countries? I ask because I was doing some research on the barn cat buddies programs (North America) that are run by some cat shelters. One of them is the Edmonton Humane Society. Great idea.
Then I visited another organisation, Barn Cat Buddies, who run barn cat buddies programmes and they said that they were pleased to have run a successful campaign to spay and neuter cats at a discounted cost. The funding came from the Best Friends Animal Society working in partnership with Petsmart Charities Lifesaving Grant. They received $9,000. Very generous.
Well, they started a “Fix for Fifteen spay/neuter program”. They don’t explain what this means but I am guessing that they advertised spaying or neutering for $15. I am interested to see that “..the phone calls poured in and our allotted funds were quickly exhausted..”.
$9000 at $15 per fix results in 600 cats being spayed and neutered. This is what apparently happened.
That got me thinking. There was an immediate and eager response to the program. There were too many applicants. To me that can only mean two things:
- There are lots of unneutered and unspayed cats in the area and (without this $15 service would these cats have remained unneutered and unspayed?)
- The usual vet cost of the operation is too high for a lot of people. It may not be that the cost is too high. It may be that the cat’s owner does not want to spend more that a certain amount on the operation. They have an idea about what they should pay and budget for that. That is, they have tight budgets.
I wonder how typical this is in North America or anywhere for that matter. There are a lot of subsidized neutering programs but are there enough and should there be some sort of coordination between organisers in an area? And I wonder if some of this should be funded by the taxpayer though local government funding or state funding.
Note: It is interesting to note that when doing a Google search for “cost of spaying cat USA” almost all the results relate to low cost spay and neuter services. There are lots of them, presumably provided by charities. Accordingly I don’t think taxpayer funding is necessary.
The enormous response to this cheap neutering program also makes me think that some people adopting cats are not really in a position, if they are honest, to care for them adequately on the budget that they have. Obviously a lot people have become poorer financially for reasons beyond their control. Fair enough, but it would be nice to have a financial profile of the typical person who uses the cheap neutering programs. How many people begin caring for a cat without really going into the detail of funding the whole thing?
People who want to get a cat should really work out what it will cost and ask whether they afford it. The costs are well advertised on the internet. It will be something around $10,000 (USD) or £10,000 (GBP) over the lifetime of a cat attaining 15 years of age. That works out at about $650 per year. Are potential cat caretakers budging for this?
What does it cost to get your cat spayed or neutered?
- USA – $50 – $100. Perhaps an American can update this figure.
- UK – Costs vary but typically — Spaying: £50 to £100 depending on circumstances. Castration: around £40.
- Greece (large feral cat problem) – 50-60 euros for castration and up to 100-155 euros for spaying.
I feel there should be some sort of people profiling going on if the cat overpopulation problem is to be dealt with properly. It may be for instance that 90% of the problem of failing to care for a cat properly which includes spaying and neutering come from the 10% of the population who are poorest people in a country. If that were true perhaps these people could be targeted in an education program and receive priority for cheap spaying and neutering.
By “education” I mean encouraging people through knowledge to have their cats spayed and neutered. In some communities and in some countries (for example Greece) it is considered “unnatural” and some people think that a female cat should have a litter before being spayed to preserve her true character. That attitude contributes to the feral cat problem. I understand that not spaying and neutering is not just about a lack of adequate funding. It is also about attitude.