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The Phoenix Files: The Importance of Spaying and Neutering

The Phoenix Files
The Importance of Spaying and Neutering

Domestic cats are the most popular pet in the nation. In fact, there are more than 77.6 million cats in US households --an average of 2.2 per home. (Compare that to my fellow four legged friends. We are a nation of some 65 million dogs).
Anyway, as much as I like cats (and I do, don't get me wrong), there are just too many of them. In every state, there is an over-abundance of unsterilized cats and that means, more free-roaming (or wild/feral) cats, more kittens and cats on the streets left to fend for themselves and, of course, more cats at the shelter.
And cheez louise, left to their own devices, it doesn't take long for them to multiply. A cat can have her first litter at the tender age of just five months!!!! And just one litter means five more good homes must be found.
Mating just once can start a domino effect that can result in dozens, even hundreds or thousands of unwanted animals. There's a statistic that is ever so popular in the shelter world that shows that one cat and her first litter of kittens if left un-checked (i.e. unspayed) can result in some 420,000 cats in just seven years. YIKES!
Too many cats for too few homes. Combating this particular problem of overpopulation gets expensive. It's not cheap for a shelter to investigate animal cruelty, to humanely capture stray cats and kittens, or to shelter and care for those lost and homeless felines. But it doesn't have to be that way.
The Humane Society of Washington County has several solutions and one comes in the form of CatSnip. This program began back in 2003. CatSnip is a total wellness program. It provides a spay and neuter program for community members living on a fixed or low income and needing assistance with the cost of spay and neuter surgery for their pets. In addition, CatSnip cats get a rabies vaccination, a microchip ID, and vaccination for reline leukemia and feline distemper. HSWC worked hard to garner the support and participation of some eight veterinarians in the county to provide low-cost spay and neuter surgery.
Last year alone, over 350 certificates were issued. Since its inception, HSWC has provided the means to neuter over 1,000 animals. Considered in the context of that staggering statistic I mentioned earlier, (that one female cat and her progeny can produce 420,000 cats in seven years), the number of litters prevented by the CatSnip program is truly impressive.
This, and other programs, has helped to position the Humane Society of Washington County as more than just a place to adopt a pet. The HSWC offers real programs, meaningful assistance and services that are really making a difference. CatSnip is just one of them.
Preventing litters, reducing the number of unwanted cats, increasing adoptions and reducing the rate of adoption returns are all noble goals and goals to which the HSWC is dedicated. Heck, all this month, the HSWC has been trying to find happy homes for even more cats by having a Purrfect Pairs promotion. Two cats are better than one and so when folks adopt two cats, the adoption fee for the second cat is waived. It keeps them healthier and happier--and living longer lives.
Sometimes I feel like I'm on a 'soapbox'. It seems that the answer for almost everything lies with simple surgery. Spaying and neutering is the answer.
Let's look at it another way. Somewhere I heard that if we were to find a home for every homeless cat, each home would have to adopt 34 cats. That sounds like a lot--and it is. Let's see. 34 cats. 24 hours in a day during which 8 hours is spent sleeping and another 8 (on average) on the job. So that leaves just 8 hours in an average day for each human to have 'down time.' So, with just 8 hours (or 480 minutes) left to eat, shop, mow the lawn, etc. etc. each of the 34 cats isn't going to get much attention. It's just not possible. Besides, if all that time is spent on cats, whose going to walk the dogs?

The Humane Society of Washington County exists to improve the quality of life for abused, neglected, and unwanted animals. 13011 Maugansville Road, Hagerstown, MD. 301-733-2060.

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