One fifth of US cat owners deliberately let their female cat become pregnant

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?

Cat and her litter
This is for illustrative purposes only. Photo: Phil Dolby
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles:- Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

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.

9 thoughts on “One fifth of US cat owners deliberately let their female cat become pregnant”

  1. I’m still trying to wrap my head around the statement I saw on one of the articles I wrote that the mother cat “is in ecstasy” once her kittens are born.

    • That ecstasy statement tells us the attitude behind the person who said it and it may reflect the attitude of many others. I think this needs to be worked on. It could have big positive effect on reducing unwanted cat numbers.

    • The mothering instinct is strong in most animals. Our little Mercy spayed way too early at 8 weeks mothered our two Tabbinese Tigers from 4 weeks on when their mother went to the rescue for spay and adoption.
      I had a mare that would mother any foal.
      And yet adult humans with more than two brain cells to bang together know that is not a reason to let them breed.

  2. I’ll go one further on parental instinct. I have seen on all meeting (dating) sites that many women’s identity is so tied to motherhood that they carry it to their grave. They’ll pose for photos holding babies as if their penchant for procreation is (still) the reason for men to seek them out. These women are over 50 years old – they are probably grandmothers and great grandmothers. I think if this obsession is so rampant among them, even past their child-bearing years, that they likely can’t help but project it onto their pet cats, and they rationalize it. Even though I admit I do love kittens, in my opinion everything about this phenomenon is insidious, unhealthy and wrong.

    • I wonder if this is so deeply embedded in women’s DNA – the need to procreate – that they can’t stop themselves and transfer it to their cat. I might do an article on that.

  3. You left out religious nuttery as practiced by relatives next door who think altering an animal to keep it from breeding babies that starve and die is offensive to their god.


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