Always spay and neuter your pet

Mar 10th, 2009 | By | Category: Blogs, Opinions

Jessica Lynn Green

Contributor

Like any other pet, an owner who does not plan to be a licensed breeder should spay or neuter their cat. The practice is known as “altering.” This isn’t an unethical practice, but simply good judgment and responsible behavior. I write this article because I am a concerned owner of two cats – one I had spayed, one I had neutered – and I have seen just one too many strays looking for food at my doorstep and getting hit by cars. For that matter, just last night I heard two of them mating in the crawlspace under my house! Because of things like this, there will be more kittens running the streets in just a couple months.

One of the most deplorable things I have heard came from an ex-friend of mine, after I asked her why she chose not to neuter her two male cats when she clearly knew they’d populated her neighborhood with unwanted kittens… again. She told me, “It’s not my problem.” I was flabbergasted. How is not neutering her male cats – to help prevent the cause of yet another generation of homeless cats – not her problem?

In the article Hello, kitty, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa  of Los Angeles said, “By requiring that all cats and dogs be spayed or neutered, we can help to humanely decrease the number of pets abandoned and euthanized each year. This ordinance, which contains clear guidelines and enforceable penalties, creates a valuable tool to take this city another step closer toward eliminating the unnecessary euthanasia of animals.”

There has been a lot of criticism in the news about having the choice to alter one’s pet. Simply due to issues of overpopulation, I disagree with this aspect of the argument. I think this discussion can be summed up in one question: What is not to be gained from controlling the population of companion animals in a humane, non-exterminable, and regulated way? It is not torture to an animal for it to be altered; in many cases, it extends the life expectancy and even prevents some health problems, such as cancer. Surely it is not better for these animals to be born and then euthanized because they are unwanted or were wandering the streets.

A second criticism of the law is the cost of altering the animal. Unfortunately, I again disagree with those pet owners who say they cannot afford to have their animal altered. If they cannot afford this one-time measure, how are they affording their general upkeep? As opposed to keeping the animal fed and up to its paws in litter, an altering fee is minimal. To alter an animal the typical cost runs approximately fifty dollars, often less. The lifetime cost of food—who is to say what that will be? There is nothing outside of professional reproduction and showing reasons to not alter your pet.

I don’t believe this is an impossible law, or that it will backfire or not work. With time, and the continued enthusiasm for the help and support of domesticated animals, this law will prove itself a blessing. I believe the rest of the United States should follow suit in pursuing such an intelligent preventative measure.

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