Q -- I recently adopted a female kitten from a friend. During the kitten's first appointment with a veterinarian, the doctor recommended that I have the kitten spayed. Can you please explain why my cat should be spayed? To avoid having kittens, I plan to keep her indoors at all time.
A -- There are two main reasons why female cats and dogs should be spayed and their male counterparts should be neutered. First, such pets are spayed and neutered to maintain their optimal health. Second, the procedure is done to prevent the deaths of unwanted offspring.
There are a number of health benefits associated with altering your pet. Cats and dogs that are spayed have less chance of developing mammary gland cancer and will not be susceptible to uterine infection. It has been shown that spaying female dogs prior to their first "heat" reduces the risk of breast cancer to 0.5 percent. Additionally, the bothersome "heat" behavior exhibited by both cats and dogs is eliminated.
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Also, contrary to what some people believe, spaying does not cause cats or dogs to become obese, nor does it cause changes in their personality. Additionally, there is no advantage in allowing your cat or dog to have just one litter before spaying.
Similarly, neutering male dogs eliminates the chance of developing testicular tumors and results in a decreased incidence of tumor-like growths near the anus. Also, neutered dogs show a reduction in the prevalence of prostatic enlargement. In male cats, neutering reduces or eliminates the sometimes objectionable odor of their urine. In both cats and dogs, neutering usually reduces the animal's desire to roam.
The second reason to spay or neuter cats and dogs is to prevent the killing of animals simply because there are not enough good homes for them. Millions of dogs and cats are killed for this reason each year. Many more are abandoned, only to suffer from illness or injury before dying.
Although a person may intend to keep a cat strictly indoors, there is always a chance that he or she will slip out an open door and contribute to the overpopulation problem.
In order to promote public awareness regarding the need for spaying and neutering of cats and dogs, Western New York will be observing Spay Week from Feb. 23 to 28. For more information regarding this week, contact your veterinarian.
Kathleen Makolinski, DVM
Prepared as a public service by the Niagara Frontier Veterinary Society. Send questions to Pets, P.O. Box 403, East Aurora, N.Y. 14052-0403. Sorry, personal replies cannot be provided.
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