Mass spaying and neutering might leave us with less nice cats

“..the widespread adoption of early neutering by the most responsible cat owners risks pushing the domestic cat genetics back gradually towards the wild, away from their current domesticate state.” (Dr Bradshaw of Cat Sense)

kitten sleeping on a person's legs

Super Sweet

Humans selectively breed purebred cats mainly for their glamorous appearance. We almost never selectively breed random bred cats (moggies).

However, There is a case for selectively breeding ordinary, random bred house cats for their character and personality. Over decades it has been hammered into our heads that we should spay and neuter our cats (altered cats). This is correct in order to avoid unwanted cats. There are already too many.

However, amongst the millions of altered cats there must some who have fabulous personalities ideal as housecats particularly in an ever more busy and populated world. In the interests of people who are looking for cats with the best possible character might it not be reasonable to suggest that random bred cats with known great characters are bred in a controlled way? It may lead to less abandoned cats as cat aggression is cited as a reason for abandoning a cat.

I realise that this is very controversial suggestion. However, in a perfect world all house cats would be altered. There would be no knew cats other than purebred cats from breeders and new cats from stray and feral cats. These stray cat offspring would almost certainly have personalities that were not ideal as human companions. They would be likely to have personalities that are a bit wilder than the typical random bred cat.

The difference would be slight but over many years most kittens born will come from a breeding line of semi-wild cats so writes Dr Bradshaw because only these cats are able to breed freely.

Therefore the argument is that highly successful mass spaying and neutering which is our target might leave us with house cats who did not have the best characters. That is not a situation that we are aiming for.

Bradshaw writes that this future state of affairs amongst the domestic cat population is not science fiction. He cites a study that he completed. In an area of Southampton, England, he found that 98% of pets cats were neutered. People who wanted a cat had to travel outside the city.

In this area he found that the kittens of the small number of intact female cats were ‘less willing to settle on their owners’ laps than kittens born in another area of the city’ were there were more unneutered male cats. This suggested that feral cats had fathered the kittens rather than male housecats with nice characters. The way the kittens had been socialised and the temperament of the mother cats had been taken into account.

I just think this is an interesting potential side effect of mass spaying and neutering. Although I am not suggesting in any way that people stop altering cats. It is simply that if spaying and neutering is carried out more extensively and efficiently there may be unforeseen consequences.

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Mass spaying and neutering might leave us with less nice cats — 2 Comments

  1. I have often thought of this and have been surprised that it hadn’t been voiced. Since I dropped Facebook, I personally haven’t had much of a people connection, except for my neighbors who don’t like cats. Dr. Bradshaw does have his finger on the pulse. I have always thought that if the feral cats are doing all the street-level breeding, and they are the incorrigible ones, that’s the breeding pool right there. That’s what we’re going to get in the pounds and rescues, mostly. And I’ve had many cats who, through some fluke or whatever, turned out great and would have produced great offspring. So, how is this really working anyway? Like I said, Dr. Bradshaw nailed it. Wonderful cats do manage to get born, but I wonder how much more wonderful it could be if we got a better handle on it.

  2. Interesting topic. When we were still optimistic about not being failed fosters to our two newest we pondered what a reasonable adoption fee for two well mannered sweet kits would be. Since we footed the bill for all this without asking for help , using a go fund me we came to the conclusion someone would have to be willing to pay about 1500 to adopt the pair.
    Many shelters now do their best to put mother cats and young kittens in foster care at an early age where they habituate to living with humans. That is the key to many domestic animals. BLM foals are 100X easier to handle and train into adult hood than grown horses. And easier to train if removed from their mothers who teach them fear. Our kits had a great mother who openly shared her babies with us. And now for a shameless plug for Tera. https://www.facebook.com/PetsenseAlbuquerque/videos/1782148425370805/ She’s still waiting for the person who’s going to love her like we do.

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