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Spay Neuter Programs

The existence of unwanted cats is one of the major problems involving companion animals in the United States. The Cat Fanciers' Association, Inc. (CFA), has reaffirmed its commitment to reducing the number of unwanted cats euthanised in this country. To relay that message to the general public, CFA has produced bumper stickers and public service announcements for radio. These announcements and bumper stickers encourage the neutering and spaying of cats and promote responsible animal care.

Surgical altering is the only foolproof and permanent method of birth control for cats. A spay is the surgical removal of the uterus and ovaries of a female animal. A female cat's risk of getting mammary cancer is reduced when it is spayed before its first heat cycle. Neutering is the surgical removal of the testicles of a male animal. Neutering a male cat generally prevents the development of mating behavior such as spraying urine to mark territory. Interestingly, a new policy has recently emerged regarding early spay/neuter of young kittens. This policy is endorsed by the American Humane Association, American Veterinary Medical Association, Spay USA, American Animal Hospital Association, Winn Feline Foundation, CFA and other animal organizations. CFA and others encourage the use of early spay/neuter for kittens from shelters. This will ensure that all kittens from shelters are altered prior to leaving the shelter, thus eliminating the need for contracts and follow up.

When early spay/neuter is not utilized, CFA supports the policy of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) in its Guidelines for Responsible Pet Adoptions (1190). This policy states that, "shelter(s) must be able to confirm that at least ninety (90%) of its adopted animals are sterilized to ensure that the shelter itself is not contributing to the pet overpopulation problem." We must continue to insist that local shelters and animal control agencies alter all cats prior to adoption or require a written sterilization agreement. (The agreement should contain a deposit requirement and language requiring the owner to alter cats/kittens within 30 days of adoption or by their 4th-6th month estimated birth date.) There must be provisions for strict follow through and/or penalties with the above. Currently, compliance by people adopting pets from animal agencies is estimated to be only 60%. Improvement in this area will have a great impact on reducing a major source of the shelter population. These requirements should be vigorously enforced before any coercive legislation is even considered. (The state of Texas adopted this policy through legislation passed in 1992 and other states have followed.)

Neuter/spay programs must be directed toward the main sources of unwanted animals; unowned/feral cats; unaltered cats that are allowed to roam and randomly mate; and, cats that are mated indiscriminately but purposefully (i.e. not a part of a recognized breeding program).

We also consider it the responsibility of conscientious breeders of pedigreed cats to take all appropriate steps to ensure that animals placed by them, not specifically intended to be used in a recognized breeding program, be altered before any opportunity to mate. The success rate of our breeders should not be less than those proposed by the HSUS for shelters. Pet stores, rescue groups and any others who place cats must also ensure similar sterilization compliance.

Pedigreed cat breeders have used sterilization contracts and follow up for at least 25 years, with a high rate of success.