February 26: World Spay Day 2019
Today is World Spay Day, an international day devoted to calling attention to the need for spaying and neutering animals across the world.
Originally founded by Doris Day and her animal organization in 1995, this day has grown into a global event.
The reality is that there are more animals than there are homes for. Back in the mid-90s, 14-17 million animals were euthanized in shelters each year due to overpopulation and overcrowding.
Fortunately, due to spay/neuter efforts, including educational campaigns, awareness initiatives, and low-cost clinics, those numbers have come down.
But, there is still work to be done as 2-3 million animals — healthy, loving animals who want homes — are still euthanized annually in the US alone,
due to overpopulation and lack of homes.
February is Spay/Neuter Awareness Month
In honor of World Spay Day and Spay/Neuter Awareness, here are some facts and stats to emphasize the importance of spaying and neutering, particularly in cats since roaming cats produce lots of kittens!
- Stray and feral cats are the number one source of cat overpopulation and produce up to 80 percent of the kittens born every year!
- Female cats are “seasonally polyestrous,” which means that they have multiple estrus (heat) cycles during the breeding season, typically going into heat in mid-to-late January. A female cat will keep coming back into heat every 1-2 weeks until she is bred. Plus, unspayed females can still get pregnant while nursing.
- Kitten Season is just around the corner! Spring is kitten season (feline gestation period is approximately 65 days), usually beginning in late March and running through the Summer. We get it, kittens are cute, but in the spring and summer, shelters are overflowing with them and they tend to get adopted first, meaning older cats are less likely to get adopted and more likely to be euthanized due to overpopulation issues.
- Spaying refers to removing the ovaries and uterus of female cats; neutering means removing a male cats’ testicles. Although neutering typically refers to males, it is often used interchangeably for males and females, such as in TNR.
- Statistically, unneutered male cats are by far the most likely to be involved in accidents since hormones and the desire to roam means they are less cautious around roads or busy areas.
- A male cat can travel for miles when they pick up the scent of a female in heat. Hormones drive them to seek a mate to breed with (not for pleasure), often leading to aggressive behavior.
- Neutering a male cat has many benefits, including stopping or reducing spraying, less aggression and fighting with other male cats, and lower risks of testicular cancer or prostate problems. Overall neutered toms are quieter, gentler, and more affectionate.
- Spaying or neutering cats and dogs is not cruel. They do not have an emotional or psychological attachment to their genitalia. In fact, neutering animals is compassionate since it protects their health and helps them live happier safer lives.
- Neutered dogs have lower rates of cancer and are less aggressive. Neutering dogs often eliminates aggression or other behaviorial issues. Unneutered males have a higher risk of injuries since they are more likey to stray and get into fights.
- In female dogs, spaying greatly reduces the risks of mammary cancer and uterine infections (called pyometra).
Ways to Help
Always Spay or Neuter
Always spay and neuter your pets, especially if you have outdoor or free-roaming cats. Even if you have indoor-only cats, it is better for their health and overall temperament. Plus, in the awful event your indoor cat gets out, spaying eliminates the chance of unwanted pregnancy and increases the chances of her returning home.
Be a Friend to Ferals
If you know of stray or feral cats in your community, contact a local shelter or rescue group for help. Many run TNR programs, where feral cats are trapped, neutered, and returned to their colonies. Also, be nice to ferals — they might not want to be touched, but they always appreciate food, water, shelter, and kindness. Remember, they did not choose to be homeless.
Become a foster!
We always need foster homes for cats as well as dogs. Sometimes the dogs get more attention, but all of us at STAR love cats just as much and want to help as many as possible, but we need your help! Apply to foster.