If you heard about Ulla the Cat, the 1-year old tabby in Nuuk, Greenland, then you know she was just as surprised as the shelter staff when she learned she was pregnant.
Don't worry - Ulla found her forever home for her and her kittens. But it reminds us of why we strongly encourage pet owners to spay or neuter their pet cats or dogs.
The more common reason that comes to mind has to do with stray cats and dogs who were either abandoned or sadly lost their way from their home. Too often it ends up in them having stray/unwanted litters, and way too often those cats, dogs, kittens, or puppies end up in shelters. And well…for those that don't find their forever home, we know the outcome is never what we want to hear.
Spaying and neutering your pet will not only help control pet overpopulation and homelessness, but there are additional health benefits for cats and dogs.
- Spaying your female pet when she is a kitten or puppy could help protect them from certain health problems when they're adults such as uterine infections and breast tumors (which are malignant in about 50% of female dogs and 90% of female cats). Spaying before she has her first heat is the better option, usually at 8 weeks old for both kittens and puppies.
- Neutering your male cat or dog when he is young could help decrease his chances of contracting testicular cancer.
- Your spayed female pet would no longer go into heat. Those of you who have female cats know they normally go into heat 4 or 5 days every three weeks during the breeding season. And during that time, to attract a male they'll yowl and urinate a lot. Including all over the house!
- Neutering the male cats and dogs will keep them home. No really! Humans come in second place when it comes to unneutered cats and dogs. They will do just about anything to find a mate and it pushes them to become great escape artists! And once out, they run the risk of getting lost, injured in traffic, and fighting with other animals.
- Neutered cats and dogs are also much better behaved. No marking their territory all over the house and yard with strong-smelling urines, and they tend to be much less aggressive.
And no…spaying or neutering your pet will not cause them to gain weight, nor is it a quick fix for all behavioral problems. But it is one of the more important things you could do to improve the quality of health and your relationship with your cat or dog.
Make sure to speak with your vet to learn more about spaying or neutering your pet, and visit the American Veterinary Medical Association to learn more about the benefits for your furry best friend.