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Warm Spring Has Reinforced Need To De-Sex Cats

1 December 2005

Spca Says Warm Spring Has Reinforced Need To De-Sex Cats

The Royal New Zealand SPCA says that warm weather and an early start to the kitten season have sharply reinforced the need for New Zealanders to ensure their cats are de-sexed.

"This year, the mating and birthing cycles for cats were accelerated by the mild winter and early start to spring. But, just because the season started earlier than usual, it doesn't mean that it will finish earlier. The season will simply last longer, which means that even more kittens than usual will be born," says the SPCA's National Education Manager, Sara Elliott.

"Even in an average year, there's a huge surplus of kittens in New Zealand, with a large percentage ending up at the SPCA. Our shelters around the country try to find homes for as many of them as possible. Even so, around 20,000 cats and kittens per year need to be euthanised. The number may be considerably higher this year

"Every unwanted kitten is a tragedy waiting to happen. The only way to reduce numbers is for cats to be de-sexed as soon as appropriate. If you have a cat that hasn't been neutered or spayed, please contact your vet and ask for advice about when it's best for your pet to be de-sexed," she says.

Sara Elliott adds that cats can be de-sexed from as early as 8-10 weeks of age, although many vets prefer to wait until a cat is 4- 6 months old.

"An important point to bear in mind is that cats can also be spayed during the early stages of pregnancy. It often costs no more to de-sex a pregnant cat than any other.

"We also need to discard the widely held belief that it's damaging to cats' health or behaviour to de-sex them before they have experienced one kittening season. There's simply no scientific evidence supporting this belief.

"De-sexing doesn't just prevent unwanted kittens being born. It also helps prevent injuries and disease caused by cats roaming in order to look for a mate. De-sexing male cats reduces their territorial behaviour, making them less aggressive and keeping them safer from attack.

"Young male cats are often involved in road traffic accidents when they roam. Cats fighting for territory or a mate can also lead to the spread of feline AIDS, as this is transmitted by bites and scratches," Sara adds.


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