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How to Avoid Spraying, Vet Bills, and Over-population

As Executive Director of the Alaska SPCA one of my jobs is to make sure that my staff have the resources necessary to shine in their work. COVID and another flu virus hit our Customer Service Team hard this month and I found myself helping out with scheduling. As I scanned the backlog of spay/neuter requests a disturbing trend emerged. There was a scarcity of requests for cat neuters. Not that there’s any shortage of male cats in the area. They are roaming neighborhoods, looking for love, and are perhaps yowling outside your neighbor’s window. Of the more than 12,000 cats registered in our system, slightly more than half are male. People just don’t appear to be neutering their male cats.

It’s About More Than Odor

When clients call the AKSPCA Clinic to schedule a cat neuter more often than not the request is for a male kitten that the owner wants to neuter before he starts spraying. Ah, yes, there’s nothing quite so…fragrant…as the odor of male cat urine. And it is notoriously difficult to get out of fabric, providing ample motivation for owners to prevent that problem as early as possible. Kudos!!! If you are that owner, we love you! You are making a decision that not only prevents the odor, but also extends your cat’s life, saves you money, and helps control feline overpopulation.

· Your Cat Will Live Longer: There are a number of reasons why pets that are spayed/neutered live longer including medical and behavioral reasons. Banfield Pet Hospitals, a chain of veterinary clinics in the Lower 48, conducted a study[1] on a database of 2.2 million dogs and 460,000 cats. The analysis found that neutered male cats lived 62% longer than unneutered male cats. Neutering eliminates their risk of testicular cancer and reduces the possibility of developing benign prostatic hyperplasia which can affect the ability to defecate. It also reduces the possibility of roaming, which brings risks of accidents, injury, and infection. The choice you make to neuter your male cat means that he is more likely to live his full 18-20 years (or more) instead of cutting his life span in half. Love your feline boy? Want to keep him around? Get him neutered.

· Intact Cats Are More Expensive: Currently, a feline neuter surgery at the AKSPCA Clinic costs $95, and there are options for individuals who can’t afford that so that we can help you keep your boy healthy for many years to come. Unaltered male cats are more likely to develop testicular cancer or prostate disease, which can cost thousands of dollars to treat. They are more likely to engage in aggressive behavior leading to injuries, abscesses, and infection which again will end up costing you anywhere from several hundred to more than $1,000. Intact males are also more prone to roaming, exposing them to feline leukemia for which there is no treatment, increased risk of injury, or an unhappy encounter with a car. Those injuries are more likely to result in a trip to the emergency vet clinic and another very expensive vet bill. Want to save money on pet care? Get your cat neutered.

· Feline Population Control: We have a problem with feline overpopulation. Over a

10-year period an intact pair of cats and their progeny can yield more than 1,000,000 cats. Hard to imagine, isn’t it? I cannot count the number of calls we’ve gotten this year about stray cats and litters born under sheds, porches, and outbuildings. Your unneutered boy is a part of that problem. Anc

e municipal regulations do not allow Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) programs for fear of impact on wild bird populations (that’s another issue we need to tackle) so we have thousands—perhaps more than a million—male intact domesticated and feral cats continuing to breed and grow this problem. For most of the summer Anchorage Animal Care and Control was over capacity for cats, and we’ve had multiple litters come through our shelter, with more waiting in the wings. Alaskans, we have a problem with feline over population. Your decision to not neuter your male cat means that more kittens will end their lives suffering, freezing to death, struggling with disease, or be euthanized in government shelters. Choose to be part of the solution, not the problem.

I know this has been a long post and I appreciate you reading this far. If I’ve succeeded in convincing you to neuter your male cat and you want to schedule, complete the Request form at https://www.alaskaspca.org/request-a-s-n-appt . If you need more information give us a call at 562-2999 and we would be happy to discuss options for your pet. Join us in helping to prevent suffering in Alaska’s companion animals. They need our love, care, and attention.

--Kelly Donnelly, MPA

Executive Director

Alaska Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals

[1] Banfield State of Pet Health 2013 https://www.humanesociety.org/sites/default/files/docs/Banfield-State-of-Pet-Health-Report_2013.pdf

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1 Comment

Jo Pro
Jo Pro
Sep 25, 2021

Great information!

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