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SPCA Urges Cat Neutering

ROYAL NEW ZEALAND SOCIETRY FOR THE PREVENTION OF CRUELTY TO ANIMALS

For Release: 15 August 2002

SPCA URGES CAT NEUTERING

The Royal New Zealand SPCA is calling on cat owners to make sure their pets are neutered.

"There's always a surge in the numbers of new kittens in springtime and far too many of these are likely to be unwanted," says the SPCA's Veterinary Adviser, Marjorie Orr

"Each year, it's heart-wrenching to see the little creatures arriving at our shelters and to know that, despite our best efforts, we simply won't be able to find homes for all of them. SPCA staff and volunteers love animals and hate having to put them down. But all too often, that's the only option we have," she says.

Dr Orr says that cats should be neutered as soon as possible from the age of four or five months onwards.

"An un-neutered female in an urban area will probably have started breeding by the time she's six months old, and she will produce two to three litters of up to eight kittens each year. In the course of her lifetime, she could be responsible for thousands of unwanted kittens.

"The sad truth is that unwanted kittens humanely euthanased by the SPCA are the lucky ones. Many of the others are drowned, although this is a terrible, agonising death because, just like human babies, cats instinctively hold their breath under water and take a long time to die. Others are dumped away from home and normally die cold and hungry whilst many are given away casually to irresponsible owners," says Dr Orr.

"Not only does early neutering prevent large numbers of unwanted kittens being born into an unwelcoming world. It's also good for the neutered cat as it's very draining and demanding for her to cope with one litter of kittens after another, especially if her body didn't have a chance to mature properly. And it's a complete myth that it's better for a cat to have a litter before being neutered, " she adds.

Neutering of male cats is also in their best interests. As Dr Orr explains, un-neutered toms get into fights on a regular basis and get scratched, infected, battered and bruised. They're also smelly and spray urine round their territory. As a result, they're rarely welcome in the house and get chased and hounded from one place to another.

Eventually, she says, un-neutered toms become battle-scarred and weary and they often die young. In contrast, males neutered before they have a chance to develop bad habits, tend to fight much less often and have much better quality lives. In addition, they don't father yet more unwanted kittens.

"One of the most common reasons people give for not neutering their cats is that it's expensive. But it's a small cost compared with that of looking after a litter of kittens, providing them with appropriate food and arranging for vaccinations and regular worming for as long as it takes to find homes for them.

"Some cat owners also argue that it's nice for children to see kittens being born. But, more often than not, the cat will give birth when everyone is asleep, so that the children miss the event. If humans are around, their presence may confuse and distress the cat, causing her to damage or neglect her kittens," says Dr Orr.

"As the springtime kitten boom approaches, we have two important messages for New Zealand's cat lovers. Firstly, make sure your own cat is neutered. Secondly, if you are able to give a safe and loving home to a cat, visit your nearest SPCA shelter and choose one of our little waifs. We can guarantee there will be lots of them.

For further information, please contact:

Marjorie Orr Veterinary Adviser Royal New Zealand SPCA 03 489 7920

Released by Ian Morrison, Matter of Fact Communications Tel: 09-575 3223, Fax: 09-575 3220, Tel: matfact@ww.co.nz

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