Spay USA And Cat Overpopulation Discussion

This article is an open discussion about cat overpopulation, why it’s happening, and what can we do to reduce the number of unwanted cats born each year. Not just in the USA, but worldwide.

I apologize for the long read with all the numbers, but this is necessary to tell a more complete story of what’s happening in this country with the overpopulation of pets. Although the numbers here only deal with the U.S., the cat overpopulation problem is a global issue (e.g. there is a recent story from the RSPCA in the UK about over-populated rescue facilities – the RSPCA are asking for more donations).

Stray cat living in my garage

Photo by dennis – this was linked but it keeps on breaking.

SPAY USA WEBSITE FOR LOW/NO COST CLINICS

Before I get into the numbers, I’d like to tell the readers here about a website in the USA that may help. Hopefully those in other countries can go online and find a similar site. Feel free to list any others in the comments section. The Spay USA website at http://www.spayusa.org offers a well rounded site that can put those with unaltered cats in touch with clinics that perform low cost or no cost spay and neuter. The website has an easy to follow page where you enter your state and county and a list of participating clinics pops up.

OVERPOPULATION FIGURES

Now for the numbers and what’s happening with all the unwanted cats and dogs. According to the Spay USA website, there are 70,000 pets born each day in the U.S. This is roughly seven times the number of people born in this country. So the idea for each family to go out and adopt a portion of these unwanted pets based on pet to people ratios won’t work because pets continue to be born at an alarming rate (on the basis that they are correct).

The Oxford Lafayette Humane Society has an excellent website, and I’d like to give everyone a rundown of some startling figures taken from their home page.

Now lets look at some math. Prepare yourself for a headache! 70,000 born per day x 365 days in a year = 25,550,000. There are approximately 6000 animal shelters in the U.S. who take in the 6-8 million pets turned over each year. This figure doesn’t really give an accurate picture, as there are also around 70 million stray cats and dogs who are living without homes in the U.S. What I find heartbreaking, and this is also the reason so many shelter animals are euthanized, is that only 16% of cats and 18% of dogs are adopted from shelters

So where do those in the U.S. acquire the majority of their pets? From friends who are looking to rid themselves of a pet they once loved. Many also turn to the freebies in the newspaper or online. Seventy percent of animals going into a home in this manner eventually end up in a shelter. My guess is most of the 70% have become pregnant or gone into heat and the family doesn’t want to take responsibility for the problem they created by allowing their pet to breed. Here are the figures from a survey that break acquiring a pet(cats AND dogs) down into even more statistics.

  • Family member or friend 42%
  • Animal shelter 15%-16%
  • Breeder 15%
  • Found as stray 14%
  • Pet store 7%
  • Local animal rescue group 2%
  • Other or unsure 5%

Another heartbreaking statistic is that only 10% of pets turned into a shelter have been spay/neutered.

I did check a few other sources about these statistics and found one that really shocked me. According to a 2012 poll by American Pet Products Association (APPA), 75% of cat owners stated they got their cat from a family member or friend. This leaves very few to have come out of shelters or from rescue groups. Which I might add, is where you’re SUPPOSED to adopt an animal from.

Taking in a cat from someone you know may seem like a good deal until you do the math. I’m not going to give you the math here, because I did that months ago. The cost of surgery, tests and vaccines can add up quickly. My article is at http://cat-chitchat.pictures-of-cats.org/2012/06/advantages-of-adopting-shelter-or.html.

WHY PET OWNER’S DON’T SPAY/NEUTER

So why do cat owner’s not have their cat spay/neutered? The Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (April 2009) listed family income as the main reason. Those with yearly earnings under $35,000 were almost half as likely to have the surgery done on their pet than those homes bringing in over $75,000.

This doesn’t match the statistics gathered in a poll by the APPA that told a different story. The number one reason in the APPA study was the family just hadn’t bothered to get the surgery done(29%). This was followed by the desire to breed their animal(16%). Cost was the excuse in only 9% of those taking the poll. The end result is a family having a mama cat with a litter on average of 5 kittens either two or three times a year. Those kittens are eventually given away or taken to the shelter.

Sometimes I just don’t know what’s wrong with people. It’s dangerous for the mother cat to have multiple litters, and most likely means the kittens will die young, as the majority turned into shelters are cats and kittens under 18 months old. Shelter overcrowding means death. So does having to live outside and face the dangers from traffic and other animals.

We had to wait a month and a half for Lola’s spaying spot to come open back in 2010 when Greenwood still had a clinic operated through the Humane Society of Greenwood, but we were able to have Furby done almost immediately. We had enough sense to keep the two cats apart so they wouldn’t mate. Furby thought of Lola as his “mother”, but that doesn’t matter when a female cat goes into heat. I imagine there are a lot of incestuous kittens born because people don’t take natural mating behavior into consideration.

DON’T BLAME THE SHELTERS

I see every day where shelters take the blame for euthanizing beautiful, healthy, adoptable animals. The problem is, the shelters are overwhelmed and there’s no place to put the hundreds turned in each week. While I really REALLY hate the statistics, euthanasia may be a more humane option than a cat having to live on it’s own, constantly hungry and many times sick or injured. Let’s not forget producing litter after litter of stray kittens to add to the number of cats on the streets without a home to call their own. It’s a tough call to compare life as a stray with a humane end given by lethal injection. I imagine a lot of cat owner’s think a stray’s existence is better than euthanasia because at least the cat has a chance to survive.

It’s estimated that the total amount spent to care for or euthanize the unwanted cats and dogs in our shelter system runs $2 BILLION per year. I’m afraid that until spay/neuter becomes a requirement by law (good luck enforcing that one)with pet ownership, the problem is only going to get worse.

WHERE I STAND PERSONALLY?

I support TNR and spay/neuter clinics. Unfortunately my area no longer has a local clinic. The cats and dogs in my area have to be bussed by the Humane Society of Greenwood a distance of 70 miles away to Spartanburg to have the surgery. Greenwood used to have a wonderful vet who operated the local clinic, but he died a few years back and a replacement(to my knowledge) hasn’t been found. Those practicing TNR in my area now pay for the surgical, testing and vaccine expenses out of pocket.

In closing I’d like to say PLEASE rescue from a shelter or a legitimate rescue. If you must take in a stray, that’s fine. I urge all of you to help as many cats as you feel comfortable helping in any way you can. If you can’t adopt, donate to your local shelter. Pay the sponsorship for a rescue to pull a cat. Shelters as well as rescues are very happy to get gift cards for places that sell pet products. Donate unwanted household items when animal organizations have fundraisers. Don’t just sit back and allow a handful of cat lovers to handle everything. Pet overpopulation is one problem ignorance will NOT make go away!

Comments anyone?

Elisa

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Spay USA And Cat Overpopulation Discussion — 6 Comments

  1. I dont blame shelters although I think they should advertise the fact that they kill their animals because alot of people turn animals in thinking the shelter is going to help them get adopted. Why don’t people know about the killing in shelters? It needs to be publicised as matter of fact. This might make a small percentage of people think twice.

    Meanwhile the problem is ignorant a**holes who don’t think being responsible for another life is all that important. I hope all those idiots suffer insessant bad luck and crappy lives because they damn well deserve it. Who the hell thinks it’s normal to just take in an animal on whim and then get rid of it on another whim. Clearly people in some places think there is not consequence for their actions. Probably they do have crappy boring lives or unhappy stressful ones and they will never put two and two together because they are all ignorant twots who do just that, ignore their own ugly faces in the mirror because they are too busy staring at the tv or feeling unsatisfied and needing things to make them feel better. Consumerism in it’s most ugly form is when animals are the subjects of peoples wants and needs and yet those stupid people have absolutely no respect for them. But they have no respect for themselves do they so how can they respect eachother and animals if they can’t even stop being revolting pigs within their stagnant emotionally uninteresting lives. Somebody should give them a good slap and tell them why. I am sure they constantly get slapped but don’t even know why because they are just stoopid a**h*les who suffer massively for self absorbed selfish tendencies. They probably think ‘its just a cat’. They should be euthanised. Sorry for being intolerant. The only intolerable thing is intolerance – I don’t think I would slap them but thats because I would let myself near them. Pricks.

    Sorry Elisa. It’s too much, it’s heartbreaking that people mess with things beyond themselves. If you have a drug habit, fine, its your problem, if you have problems or habits that do you in and you work with them, fine, it’s you – BUT when you start affecting other people or animals in life then you better wake up and get serious. If you have problems DONT have children. Don’t make yourself responsible for another life unless you are going to respect it EVERY minute of every day it lives.

      • Thanks Elisa – I went and read the article. It’s interesting – the one thing it does which I like – is it informs me that there are many people out there who won’t allow this sort of thing regardless of the law. I think death threats are fantastic in this case. The law is not very helpful anyway. I hope that kid suffers being scared and having to move to another universe for the rest of his life. I hope somebody where he moves to finds out so he has to move again, and again. You get the picture 🙂 but it does make it clear that law or no law, people do not accept that kind of attitude and take it very seriously.

  2. It’s so very sad that so many cats are killed because they are unwanted when neutering is such an obvious and simple solution.
    Here in England Cats Protection will pay for neutering, the word covers both sexes here, spaying a female cat, castrating a male and it’s well advertised, so it’s just the fact that some people can’t be bothered to take their cat to the vets.
    They need to take responsibility.
    It’s worse for you in the USA I know, you have a far bigger problem, at least we don’t have kill shelters here, as far as I know.
    Why don’t your vets over there push neutering by advertising it with discount like they do declawing, I wonder?
    Marc I don’t think you are intolerant at all, I think you are very kind and caring and passionate and get as angry as I do about idiots who cause problems with cats then the poor cats get the blame.
    We can only keep on trying to educate those people as much as we are able to but at the end of the day some just don’t think cat welfare is worth bothering about.
    Elisa I love dogs too and know some have it as bad as cats, but I can’t get into defending them as well, it’s not that I don’t care but I haven’t the time to give them, it would take too much from my first love, cats.
    I hate the way some people shout at dogs and yank them along, but many shout impatiently at their kids too, whatever has gone wrong with this world that so many people have no kindness and patience now?

  3. It seems to me that some pet owners really shouldn’t be pet owners at all. I am reminded of some young neighbors of ours a number of years ago. They had small children, a puppy and a kitten, and they evidently were so overwhelmed that they couldn’t begin to give anything close to proper care to their pets. The puppy ran wild, nipped at everyone’s heels, and treated the kitten like his personal chew toy. The kitten would often sneak out of the house evenings to get away from it all, and was never missed. And so it remained locked out of the house all night, and often the next day as well. On cold winter nights we felt sorry and took the kitten into our home overnight. This happened so often that the kitten attempted to take up permanent residence with us. Of course a stray tom in the neighborhood got the kitten pregnant, despite our best efforts to keep them apart. The people were nice neighbors, but as I said, they never should have had pets.

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