Ask the Vet: Spay, neuter early to prevent unwanted littersQ: I had a female cat wander up to my house recently. Since she was so nice we decided to take her in. About a week later she had kittens in my closet. Everyone is doing great, but what now?
By: By Dr. Amanda Bruce, Superior Telegram
Q: I had a female cat wander up to my house recently. Since she was so nice we decided to take her in. About a week later she had kittens in my closet. Everyone is doing great, but what now?
I’ve always joked that there is no friendlier cat than the one about to have kittens. Nature helps make them so endearing to us that we can’t possibly turn them away.
The Twin Ports region has fantastic resources for cats in just the situation you’ve described. Animal Allies Humane Society secured a multi-year grant through PetSmart Charities for spaying and neutering to help prevent the exact situation you described.
The grant covers spaying and neutering, rabies vaccination and micro-chipping for cats in Superior, specifically residents in the 54880 ZIP code. It also covers these Duluth ZIP codes: 55802, 55805, 55806, 55807 and 55812. And yes, you read that right—all of the services are free for residents in those areas.
Your cat’s new kittens can be spayed or neutered as soon as they are either 2 months old or weigh two or more pounds. This can be done prior to finding them new homes to help break the cycle of unplanned litters. Mom can be spayed as soon as the kittens are weaned. Northland Spay/Neuter in Duluth does the free surgeries for Animal Allies under the grant. You can reach them at 218-623-6342.
Q: How old does my cat need to be before she’s spayed? I hear conflicting information.
My strong convictions about spaying and neutering come from my experience of having to euthanize hundreds of shelter animals, specifically cats, in our community. These animals had nothing wrong with them other than being the victims of shelter overpopulation. A PetSmart Charities study of pet owner attitudes revealed that 59 percent of cat litters are unintentional and 19 percent of the female feline population has had a least one litter.
Although there is variation, some female cats can go through their first heat cycles and become pregnant as early as four months. Cats can and should be safely spayed or neutered by four months old to prevent unwanted litters. Spaying and neutering as early as two months of age is safe. More information on early spaying and neutering can be found at whentospay.org.
Q: Will my cat get fat once I get him fixed?
Overfeeding causes fat cats. The energy demand, and thus the total need for calories, does decrease in a fixed cat. Studies also have shown that appetites increase for male cats after they are altered. I recommend feeding two measured meals per day from the time your cat is a kitten. It’s up to owners to take the responsibility to monitor the food intake of their cats and watch their animals’ weights.
Dr. Amanda Bruce of Superior is owner of PetCare of Duluth, 2701 W. Superior St., Suite 102, Duluth. You can reach her or ask questions for future columns at drbruce@PetCareofDuluth.com or 218-461-4400.