Cat Sex 101

Love is in the air—which means it’s time for my annual cat sex rant. Countless kitties became mothers or fathers this year, and shelters and rescues already swamped with kittens are struggling to stem the furry tide.

During cats’ breeding season (January-October) amorous girl kitties go into heat every three weeks and can produce a litter of kittens every 63 days. My Serendipity (Seren) is the product of a “whoops” litter, and dumped on the street when she wasn’t wanted. While I wouldn’t trade her for all the catnip in the world, preventing the births of unwanted kittens also prevents heartache. Now is the time to prevent any accidental litterary endeavors.

I spent several years working as a vet tech, and helped with many hundreds of spay-and-neuter surgeries in cats. Spaying and neutering offers so many benefits, and no down side for owners or their pets.

Don’t Believe the Myths

There are still myths surrounding the spay-and-neuter subject. Don’t believe them.

Myth 1: Fixing pets will make them fat and lazy.

The surgery to remove reproductive organs does not make cats fat or lazy—eating too much food does.

Myth 2: Breeding my cat will give me a kitten just as adorable as her.

Even professional breeders can’t predict what a planned pregnancy will produce, so don’t kid yourself. There’s no guarantee your affectionate beauty queen will give birth to a copycat pet. It’s just as likely she’ll produce an ugly, ill-tempered fur ball.

Myth 3: I should let my cat have one litter before spaying.

There are no medical benefits to having “one litter first” before spaying. In fact, fixing your cat early eliminates romantic yowling, roaming, and fighting. It can also prevent cats from spraying urine around like Kitty Channel #5.

Myth 4: Breeding my cat is a great way to teach my kids about reproduction.

If you’d like your children to witness the miracle of birth, ask a veterinarian to show a tape, or tune in to Animal Planet. Mom cats don’t appreciate an audience, and the births usually take place in private. Allowing cats to get knocked up without proper planning is not a good lesson to teach your child. It’s the shelter workers and volunteers who get stuck with the tragic task of what to do with excess pets when homes can’t be found.

Timing is Everything

The best time for surgery is before sexual maturity, but adult cats can be altered at any age. Many animal welfare organizations and professional breeders alter kittens as early as 8 weeks, or once they weigh two pounds or more. Some shelters have been performing juvenile sterilizations routinely for more than twenty years.

Seren was about four months old when we found her. After newspaper ads failed to locate an owner, we had her spayed. Some female felines, especially Oriental breeds, can become pregnant as early as four months old, so we didn’t want to take any chances. Babies bounce back much more quickly from surgery than adults, and Seren was playing ankle-tag within hours of coming home.

What’s Involved?

The surgical incision for male cats is made in the scrotal sac, while female kitties have an abdominal incision for the spay surgery that removes both the ovaries and uterus. Pets act a bit woozy until anesthesia wears off. Some will be ready to go home the same day, while others must spend the night at the clinic. Most cats are up and running within hours.

Look at Your Watch

Each hour, three thousand puppies and kittens are born in the United States. Each year, more than twelve million pets are surrendered to animal shelters. It’s estimated that four million pet pregnancies would have to be eliminated to prevent the births of twenty million furry babies destined to be surrendered or abandoned. Before you allow a tragedy to continue, look at your watch.