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Porky & Buddy: How Pets Multiply

Dear Porky and Buddy,

Someone just told me that over the course of six years, one female dog and her offspring can produce 67,000 dogs, and over the course of seven years, one female cat and her offspring can produce 420,000 cats. She was trying to persuade me to have my cat spayed before she has any kittens. But honestly, if those figures were true, wouldn’t we be up to our knees in cats and dogs? I mean, a lot of pets are not spayed. Those figures don’t make any sense.

Ken

Dear Ken,

Animals are great at reproducing. You will frequently find the figures that your well-meaning friend quoted. These numbers are a mathematical exercise used to make a point, not a biological reality, but that doesn’t mean that pet over-population is not a problem. Actual studies of feral cats, taking into account average birth rates, survival rates and life expectancy indicate that realistically, over 12 years, one unspayed female, with all her unspayed female offspring, reasonably can be expected to be responsible for over 3200 kittens if there is no human intervention. So the bottom line is the same. There are a lot of homeless animals out there. Without human intervention they are multiplying, and there aren’t enough homes for them all.

According to The Humane Society of the United States, six to eight million cats and dogs enter shelters in the United States each year. Three to four million of these animals are adopted out. That means three to four million animals are killed each year. And don’t blame the shelters. They deal with the problem; they don’t cause it. This pet overpopulation crisis is the direct result of animals left unaltered and allowed to reproduce in our communities. Including your cat. If you allow her to have even that one litter of kittens, the cycle starts all over again, with those kittens potentially adding their own litters to the population.

This is a sad and unnecessary problem of overwhelming proportion that is largely preventable if pet owners spayed or neutered their animals before they had any offspring. In fact, the ONLY humane and effective way of addressing the overpopulation crisis is through spay and neuter surgery, preferably before a pet begins to reporduce.

There isn’t room in this column to address the health and behavior benefits of spaying and neutering pets—we’ll take that up some other time—but even if there were none of those benefits, if you love your pets you should be loving them enough to have them spayed and neutered now. So call your vet today, or you can call the Oswego County Humane Society for information about reduced cost spay/neuter programs.

The Oswego County Humane Society provides spay/neuter assistance, information and referral, adoption assistance to pet owners, humane education programs, foster care and adoption for pets in urgent need, assistance with lost and found pets. Our administrative offices and spay/neuter clinic are located at 265 West First Street, Oswego, New York. Check our web site at www.oswegohumane.org or call (315) 207-1070 for more information or to be placed on our mailing list for our newsletter