Twenty percent (20% – one fifth) of cat owners let their female cat become pregnant and have a litter of kittens before being spayed. On average these cats gave birth to 2.43 litters of 4.3 kittens. It appears that the owners do this despite a lot of them knowing full well that there is a problem of uncontrolled cat breeding and an unwanted cat problem in the US. Spaying female cats and neutering males before procreation is universally seen as the way forward. Yet a large number of cat owners ignore this. One reason for this behavior might indicate that it is women who are making these decisions?
There is a belief amongst a segment of US society that female cats need to experience parturition (give birth to kittens) before being sterilised. It is not clear why the belief exists. It may be that women are “anthropomorphising their parental instincts onto their pets”. Another theory is that parturition brings a “tangible health benefit to the animal”. A further theory is that the owners believe that their cat has a right to reproduce. If they hold this belief they cannot be aware of the huge number of cats in shelters awaiting new homes. Is this an example where education is the cure?
However, perhaps education might be unable alter the minds of these people if the reason for their behavior is due to attitude and personal convictions rather than knowledge. Although, I believe that a change of attitude can be achieved over time with education or with a change in the law. Societal rules does change attitudes. It forces bad habits out of society. What I am suggesting is obligatory spaying and neutering.
However, this is a serious issue that needs to be addressed if governments want to take proactive steps to stem the flow of unwanted cats and kittens entering shelters across the nation.
The research providing the statistics was by Luke in 1996.