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Sunday, July 12, 2015

The Other Side of the Coin: Why We Spay

My daughter is about to turn sixteen. She has never had a cat, because I am severely allergic to cats. But she's always wanted to have one. I recently told her that we had a kitten living on our property, and she fell in love with at once and wants to keep it.




This is going to be her cat, though it will be a barn cat and not a house cat. The kitten is very tame, and though I have refrained from touching it all this time, my daughter picked it up and petted it, and the kitten was delighted by the attention.



Letting her keep the kitten is part of my daughter's birthday gift this year. But we have determined that the kitten is a female, and because I cannot allow too many cats to overrun my property, I have made a very painful decision: when the time is right, I will have the kitten spayed.


This is not for humane reasons. This is purely out of my own self interest. I have no wish to become a cat breeder. Cats are not indigenous to this area; they are exotic. They represent a threat to the local wildlife. So because I don't care about the feline species, I am going to see to it that this particular cat on my property does not reproduce.


What are the alternatives? I could give it to someone else who does want to breed cats. But really, most people who adopt a cat immediately turn around and have it spayed. They pretend they are doing it for the sake of the cat. That is utter nonsense. There just happens to be a conflict of interest between cats and humans, and we try to keep their population down, because it would be bad for us to be overrun by cats.


I feel sad for the cat, because infertility is no picnic. Having reproductive capacity removed also alters personality. We're talking about invasive surgery, and not everyone survives it.


But just as I eventually had to exterminate the mice that were overrunning my house -- with Bow's blessing, despite his earlier objections -- I have to be a good steward of the land for the sake of my rabbits and turtles and deer and birds. So this will not be a cat sanctuary. Sorry. One cat only.


The difference between me and HSUS is that I acknowledge how cruel and disempowering spaying is. It is not an act of kindness toward cats. It is something that we do because we don't care about them that much.


Don't let the animal rights rhetoric blind you to the facts. Any species whose propagation matters to you should be allowed to breed. If a sanctuary prevents chimpanzees from breeding, then its attitude toward chimpanzees is like my attitude toward cats.

12 comments:

  1. I have always been on the fence in regards to spaying and neutering pets and animals. Your reasoning makes sense to me, as yes, most of us do this for reasons that have not a thing to do with caring about the animal species. I often wonder, as I head to the vet with another pet... Do I really have the right to take this step that alters the natural life of this animal forever?

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    1. Hi, Ruth. I feel the same way, and I try to avoid taking this step whenever I can. I have two dogs who are intact, but they are both male and in a fenced yard. Their personality has not been altered, but they have no chance to reproduce, either. In the case of an outdoor cat, though, it is very hard to prevent reproduction without spaying.

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  2. I wish their was a more humane way to spay my own cat, but I had to do it because I am unable to raise her kittens. I want Irina, but I cannot afford to look after many kittens. Where I live many people abandon their cats, so there is a large feral cat population. They continue to breed as well. The thing about cats is they hide, and there will probably always be feral cat populations.

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    1. Hi, Julia. Most people who own cats are in the same boat. As long as we understand that is something we do to help ourselves, and not the cats, there is nothing wrong with it. It's just that I have seen the literature that they spread trying to suggest that this is a "benefit" to the cat herself, and I think that is a bit two-faced.

      While I am not a "cat person", I do hope that there _will_ always be feral cat populations, so that their species is not exterminated by our "kindness". But like you, I cannot afford too many kittens on my property.

      I do wonder where the mother is, though.

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  3. When you see many out there in the woods, like where I live, you need to have all of them fixed. It is not just for selfish reasons. I am guessing that you have not seen male cats fight over the females to get one pregnant and how they tear each other up because of that "natural" instinct. Even if females are not in heat males will fight for the simple fact of territory. A fixed cat will live a whole lot longer than one that is out producing, just to produce. There will ALWAYS be feral cats. Many do not see the good in that also, but they are food for other animals and they also eat other animals too. They are in the food chain and they do serve a purpose.
    I do not like HSUS because they spread some un-truths for their own agenda. If you want to know how the cat population has exploded, just take a tour of all the adotption centers and animal control places and you will begin to see that the balance has been tipped.
    De-sexing is what it is really called and it only makes them more female and less agressive towards people and other cats. If there is a male cat that comes into the area they will leave the desexed ones alone...as in not try to make a territory announcement with them or fight them and tear them up. I have treated many cats that have gotten into those kinds of fight and it is not a pretty sight and the cats that got the shrot end of the deal is in a great deal of pain. Some are so bad that they had to be put down. Very sad to see and be part of.

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  4. Debbie, I believe you about everything, including that it makes them "less aggressive" -- but less aggressive is not necessarily more female. It's just more to our tastes, from the culture we come from.

    I think that both males and females have more strength of character in their natural form, and they are more docile when fixed. It worked for humans with eunuchs, too. The Alpha male did not tend to attack the eunuch guarding his harem.

    I understand that cats are not currently in any danger of extinction and that there are more of them than anybody wants. That is why it is so easy to get a free cat. But if the tide were to turn, cats might be very expensive and only obtainable from a breeder, and then poor people could not have any.

    I am not a bleeding heart type, so if I need to spay to protect my property, I will. I am just not going to pretend it is for the cat's sake. It's for me, because I don't really want cats on my property.

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  5. Here are a list of myths for you to read:
    http://www.catrescue.com.au/desex-now/myth-busters

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    1. BTW, the fact that they fight each other over mates and other resources is natural. We might not want to see it done right in front of us, but if you care about the species, rather than just the individual cat, you would not want to stop the selective process altogether.

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  6. I have seen all sides of this. I also thought about things such as if we desexed all of them then one day wew oudl be the ones who wiped then off the face of the earth. Cats have many predators and not many think about that. Most think about what the cats are hunting instead. I know there is natural selection and it is good, untill it goes too far for another species that is involved with it and it throws the whole ecosystem out of whack. It has happened right were I live.

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    1. Yes, it is a multifaceted problem, Debbie. Good health in a species is maintained by culling. But too much or too little can be a problem.

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  7. Good for you, Aya, in spaying your kitten. As I recall, a kitten can go into heat and become pregnant as early as 5 months old.
    I advocate a lot of spay and neuter - not "for the good of the animal", but for the good of those of us that don't appreciate irresponsible owners allowing their pets to breed willy nilly, then taking the pups / kittens out and dumping them on our roads / property so that WE have to deal with them. I don't care if people want to breed their animals - as long as they have a buyer or people to give their animals to. My neighbor down the road refused to spay & neuter his barn cats and for a while, he was able to give some of them away. But soon, none of his friends wanted anymore of them in a short period, our property was being overrun with feral cats. The cats were being run over in the road and they were coming here and killing my native bird population that I've worked so hard to restore (quail, turkey, etc.).
    That, I cannot abide. We have removed 27 feral cats from our property. They are not part of the native population and have a lot more advantage than our native predators. They take a lot more of the prey that is normally taken by our native predators - taking a lot more than they 'give'.
    When the cats cross my property line, then they encounter *my* rules. I have to say, it is unfair to me, that irresponsible owners allow them to breed & roam and I then have to deal with the time spent and the emotional fallout of having to remove the animals from my own property in order to keep my micro-ecosystem in balance.
    There doesn't have to be a world-wide effort to spay & neuter, but there does need to be some responsible ownership.

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    1. Hi, Kathy. It's a painful decision, but after considering all the alternatives, it does seem to be the best choice for me. It's a shame that so many people are irresponsible about their cat breeding. On the other hand, I still wonder about the whereabouts of this kitten's mother.

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