Bearing in mind the problem of feline overpopulation in America, it is always surprising to me why people let their cats breed. Cat owners should be aware of the problems of unregulated breeding which often leads to unwanted cats. This leads to the first issue. Some people simply are unaware of the issues. Education is often at the root of the problem.
One does not want to be judgemental or criticize but poor education can lead to poor incomes and of course poor a income can lead to decisions which a person would not otherwise make.
Some owners might balk at the idea of spending money on spaying or neutering their cats. It may simply be a financial thing coupled with carelessness and apathy. The lack of a close bond between owner and cat will make this situation more likely. Across America there are low-cost spay and neuter programs to address this problem. These programs have been successful in increasing the sterilization rate to over 80%.
Apparently, numerous studies have shown that the percentage of sterilized pet cats can exceed 80% depending upon the location, urban versus rural areas and owned versus relinquished cats.
The main method of controlling cat population size in America is through surgical sterilization despite alternative methods such as contraceptive hormone therapy and vaccines. But for mass sterilization the size of the cat population America would be vast because we know how efficiently cats can breed.
There is a proportion of Americans who believe that female cats need to “experience parturition” before they are sterilized. A study in 1996 by a guy called Luke found that just over 20% of cats gave birth to an average of just under 2.5 litters with an average litter size of 4.3 kittens before being spayed. The question is why do people allow this to happen?
People don’t know the answer to that question for sure. Some people let their cats breed because they humanize (anthropomorphize) their parental instincts onto their pet cats. Other people believe that a female cat will be healthier if she has kittens. Yet again more people believe that female cats have a right to have kittens. It seems to me that these people make a conscious decision to allow their female cats to have kittens. And they make this decision perhaps unaware of the problems of unwanted cats due to uncontrolled breeding. I believe that there is a element of apathy and sloppiness involved in these decisions.
And it is possible that the people who make these choices would not change their minds even if you could explain to them all the issues. This is because of personal convictions rather than a lack of knowledge.
Some people believe that cats need to reach sexual maturity before they are sterilised. Some veterinarians advise that cats should be at least six months of age before they are altered. This advice may be outdated because. It seems that modern thinking is that early age spaying and neutering should be the norm.
Because some people in society allow their cats to breed for the reasons mentioned above it is certainly useful in the prevention of unwanted kittens if there is a policy of early spaying and neutering in cats as young as seven weeks of age. In the UK, the British Veterinary Association recommend that pet cats are neutered from 16 weeks. In the UK neutering normally takes place around 5 to 6 months of age. Many cats reach sexual maturity before this time. Modern thinking is that neutering from eight weeks of age carries no detrimental effects for the cat. And in terms of population control of cats it is important that they are neutered before they are sexually active. In the UK the word “neutered” means both neutering of male cats and the spaying of female cats.
It could be argued that local authorities should be more involved in subsidizing low-cost spay neuter programs. I’m sure that it would reduce the number of unsterilized cats if low-cost spaying and neutering was more widespread. However, a small percentage of people refuse to sterilize their pet cats because of their convictions and perhaps because of a lack of education.
In one study that took place in 1998 it was found that just over 50% of cats given up to 12 shelters throughout America were sterilized.
Finally, the relinquishment of cats whether sterilized or not sterilized because of a breakdown in the relationship between owner and pet also adds to the number of unwanted cats which is arguably the same thing as an overpopulation of cats.