Cat domestication requires that the cat undergoes surgery

This is a “cat thought” for Sunday 22nd June. It is a great day weather wise and I am in the garden. It sounds odd but the truth is that the domestic cat is ill suited to domestication unless he/she undergoes surgery. In other words the domestic cat, as born, requires modification. That is what we, the humans, insist on.Β 

It is universally accepted that a male cat should have his testes removed (castration) and the female should undergo a far more serious operation and have her ovaries and uterus removed (“ovariohysterectomy”).Β 

domestic cat
Photo by Aizuddin Saad
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles:- Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats
A cat behaviorist asks what are the negatives and positives on cat behavior of spaying and neutering and she says there are no negative behavioral effects but there are plenty of positives. We know what they are. It stops male cats being quintessentially male cats; those core traits of territorial possession and procreation.

I should be emphasised that when the cat behaviorist says there are no negative behavior traits to neutering and spaying she means from her perspective and not the cat’s perspective.

If a person does not physically modify her/his cat (s)he is deemed to be irresponsible. We all agree that these operations should be mandatory – an admission that domestication is not wholly successful without surgical intervention. Just a thought.

We don’t just have to physically modify our cats, we have to mentally modify them too. This is called socialisation. Without being socialised a cat is not fully domesticated. Cats aren’t born fully domesticated. They inherit some domestic traits in their genes but they can go either way: into the wild state or become a house cat. It depends on socialisation.

Perhaps this is a strange way at looking at what we take for granted but to me it sheds some light on the whole project that is the domestication of the cat.

It also sheds some light, I believe, on why the declawing of cats exists and I am sorry to constantly bring it up. The advocates of declawing use many arguments to justify it and one of them is that if we have to surgically modify or remove our domestic cats’ reproductive organs why aren’t we allowed to modify their toes too? What is the difference? I see the reasoning but it is not good reasoning.

The difference is this. If we are to have domestic cats then spaying and neutering benefits the cat. It is a surgical procedure which is essentially therapeutic but I have to confess it is done for our benefit. We insist on spaying and neutering. The cat wouldn’t agree to it because it goes against nature, the survival of the species. All animals are hardwired for that. However, it is therapeutic because it makes the cat fit in better with the human’s lifestyle and there are direct and indirect health benefits.

Whereas declawing is also for the human’s benefit and is also designed (but often fails) to makes the cat fit in better with the human lifestyle (no scratched furniture), it is at heart non-therapeutic. There are no benefits whatsoever but there are plenty of negatives. You can see the stark difference immediately.

29 thoughts on “Cat domestication requires that the cat undergoes surgery”

      • Thats really sad:( Yea Jasmin 5 Months now, i keep reminding her every time she wants to go outside at night why she cant go outside. She gives me the most disappointed look like but i want to go outside πŸ™

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        • I remember our Kitty 40 years ago coming into heat at only 5 months old, she escaped the garden and ran under a patch of rhubarb leaves lol
          We kept her in after that until her heat passed over and then it was off to the vets with her to be spayed.

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          • Wow reminds me of Ozzy πŸ™‚ Yea i keep her inside at night time now as its just too dangerous will be taking her asap to get fixed. I dont know if there are any Toms out but dont want take the risk. The cat door has to be double locked on both sides. As shes worked out how to escape which im sure the cats have taught her.

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        • Ok that was seriously funny – my day just got different lol. I think I’d do the same.

          I agree that our need to neuter is partly practical and I agree with Michael it’s a failure that we need to do it for practical reasons, in particular because of it modifying the nature of the cat.

          In Slovenia, in the countryside, there are many farms and peasants (that’s what they call them, not me) and they all have un-neutered animals. The neighbours out in the nature there have an un-fixed (there’s the pun, very telling that we β€˜fix’ our cats) cat who would come and stalks all our neutered lady cats and sniff them. He was nice. He was clearly different though because of it. I’m not sure having un-neutered cats would be at all bad in the context of a couple necessary conditions.

          Firstly they must be ble to roam freely in and out. They will spray your house and get very frustrated otherwise. Secondly, there can not be too many of them. If these two requirements are met I’d happily live with unfixed cats. The lady up the road has unfixed ladycats and they are fine, except that they have kittens twice year but from a practical point of view it’s really not a problem having them around in a typical household in my opinion.

          Perhaps the fixing thing also came about more when it became acceptable to have cats indoors only – and yes, all of this is a kind of failure really. That we need to do all these things.

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          • I guess it be OK if people took responsibility. Its finding homes for those kitties afterwards. Its sad when those kitties end up going to a shelter or being harmed that gets to me. Worse still i really dont think its fair on a Female Cat especially one that not equipped or can handle it.

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  1. I agree that for any cat to ever be domesticated, they must be surgically altered, ie. neutered and sufficiently socialized.

    Although, I feel neutering is an absolute necessity, I see it as an ethical issue also.

    Procedures of any kind being performed on a cat raise the question of whether we are acting as caretakers or as “owners” at the time. The line can become fuzzy.

    When we impose our will on them, especially if it is in conflict with what is their natural state, it appears that we are acting as owners. We make the assumption that we know what is best for them and act on it. We exercise our “right” to decide how they will live their lives and, sometimes, when they should die. In some instances, I think we know what they really want; and, I believe a big ol’ tomcat wouldn’t approve of our plans for his testes. LOL! But, they have to go to the big testicle pile in the sky.

    To me, it’s all sticky-wicky. But, it’s my duty to do what I think is best and not cause harm in the process.

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    • I agree. To me is an element of the domestication of the cat that is a failure. If there were far fewer domestic cats and if there was one cat per household and if all them were keep in large enclosures at home there would be no need for altering. Impossible to achieve and crazy but it was technically possible to do without neutering.

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      • But it would be unkind to keep an un-neutered tom confined, all his instincts tell him to go and find a mate, he would be very frustrated.
        An unspayed queen cat confined and unmated would keep on coming into heat and would more than likely develop problems in her uterus, such as pyometra.
        I think as our late mother used to say ‘sometimes we have to be cruel to be kind’ and that’s relevant to us having the power to have our pet cats sex organs removed.

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    • Dee apparently those cats will be spayed after each has had her first litter, which those people truly believe and won’t budge from πŸ™

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      • That’s totally insane, Ruth.
        I think it smells of cruelty too.
        And, what will happen to all of these kittens?
        If they lived here I wound think they were “backwoods folk”.

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        • They are morons Dee, live rent and council tax free as don’t work (won’t work) but know all their rights and have their thuggish pals behind them so beware anyone who crosses them.

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      • Why let the poor kitties to go though having kitties its just so sad people think let them have their first lot of kittens first its very sad πŸ™ πŸ™

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      • It’s a very sad world we live in these days. Where declawing is acceptable in America and other parts. Where still some people want their kitties at 5/6 months old to have their first litter. Its like babies having babies. Just like a 15yr old having her own baby. I agree with everything everyone has said. Its so irritating that most people can afford to get their animals fixed or well looked after but choose the easy way it.

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        • I could write the script for those here. They’ll want Cats Protection to take the litters of kittens if they can’t find homes for them and then they’ll expect the mothers all spayed for free, won’t be able to afford even a donation!
          All very predictable.

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          • Yea that be about right. Its just sad that’s why it annoys me so much. It used to not annoy me but as i become more aware it upsets me more. I got word the other day that sometime soon the SPCA in my town will be reopening where i hope to volunteer.

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          • Oh God!
            That sort of idiocy should be a criminal offense.
            Again and again…
            Why aren’t there lynchings anymore?

            Idiots… Hang ’em high!

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  2. I think the neutering of cats comes under ‘What you’ve never had you never miss’ if kittens are neutered at around 4/5 months of age as recommended here. The females don’t come into heat and feel the yearning to mate and produce kittens. The males don’t wander away looking for a mate and spraying their manly messages all over.
    We’ve always had our cats neutered and they’ve all seemed content.
    This is far different to declawing because kittens have already used their claws and found out what they are for, so despite declawing vets and pro declaws saying kittens declawed young don’t miss their claws, they do!
    But I do sometimes think how unfair it is that we have the power to decide our cat’s fate, to deprive them of a sex life which was the right of all animals when they lived wild. We took that from them!
    But the recent matings of some young cats here haven’t seemed to bother Walter or Jozef, Walt interestedly watched one day, but Jo totally ignored it all.
    Battered fighting toms around and now 2 well pregnant young queens and the other 2 must surely be too by now going by the recent matings. It doesn’t look to be as nice a life for them as for our neutered cats, but it IS a more natural life!
    The women who own the 4 queen cats are of the old school who think cats must have a litter before being spayed and won’t be told differently, so hopefully this will happen eventually. But meanwhile those young cats have had to go through sex with multiple toms, next to give birth, rear their kittens and then be parted from them, all so un-necessary when they could have been spared it!

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