Spring is well and truly here, and with the warmer weather and longer days comes peak breeding season for cats.
Veterinarians are encouraging everyone to desex their cats as the RSPCA reports the numbers of unwanted cats and kittens being euthanised each year in Australia is in the tens of thousands.
Even the most diligent and responsible cat owners can find themselves in a tricky situation.
“Owners are often shocked to learn that their four or five month old kitten can actually be fertile and fall pregnant,” said Dr Rebecca Hunn from Veterinary Happiness, which is Redland City’s only internationally accredited cat friendly clinic.
“Of course we would always recommend keeping your cats indoors or confined to your property via the use of a cat enclosure, but if an undesexed female cat were to slip away for as little as a few hours there is always the chance of an unwanted pregnancy. Desexing is definitely the way to go,” she said.
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As well as the unintentional pregnancies, many people still have the view of their cat having a litter as an educational experience for their children.
“Unfortunately given that female cats can be fertile from such a young age means that pregnancy will put an enormous stress on a cat that is still not fully developed herself, and every pregnancy comes with potential risks,” Dr Hunn said.
“There is also the difficult task of finding homes for kittens as well as the cost of their care before going to their new families.”
Currently by law in Queensland all kittens must be at a minimum microchipped before they are sold or given away, but they also need vaccinations from six weeks of age.
“We have recently found ourselves in the difficult position of having two adult female cats and their eight kittens find their way into our care and needing homes,” she said. “It’s devastating to think of beautiful healthy cats like these so often being euthanised when they make it into shelters because there are just such high numbers that don't get adopted.”
It’s not only the female cats who can run into trouble, but undesexed male cats driven by their hormones are often more likely to roam further distances, and are more likely to run into conflict with competing cats which can result in injuries such as abscesses. There is also the chance they can develop deadly FIV, a virus which has no cure and is spread through cat bites.
In line with the latest studies, Veterinary Happiness recommends arranging your kitten’s desexing early, ideally around three or four months of age.
For more information or if you are interested meeting the kittens available for adoption, contact Veterinary Happiness Redland Bay on 3206 7911.