Wednesday, March 3, 2010 7:37 AM

Positive Health Effects of Spaying and Neutering

In addition to the positive mental health effects of spaying and neutering and the reduction of stress associated with answering the call of the wild, there are many other health advantages, as well. Your cat should enjoy a longer life, with fewer physical complications than if he or she had never undergone the procedure.

For females, all the physical stresses and strains of pregnancy and birth are eliminated. Many queens are not in the best physical condition at the time of conception, due to the biological demands of estrus. Some females are so weakened by weeks of emotional upheaval, including starving themselves until their needs are met, that they enter pregnancy at a disadvantage. The strain of pregnancy causes further problems, sometimes resulting in chronic health problems, stillborn or kittens of low birth weight and/or a queen unable to meet the demands of several nursing offspring. Of course, helpful intervention by humans can ameliorate many of these problems, but the final problem--finding homes for the kittens--still exists!

Males will also be spared the physical and emotional stresses associated with procreation. They will wander and fight less, and be less inclined to mark territory with their urine. They will be less apt to suffer urinary tract problems, show symptoms of stud tail, and will be generally less aggressive, particularly toward other cats. Since they will be involved in fewer fights, they will have fewer injuries, as well.

The decreased inclination to wander will lessen chances of either gender being attacked by dogs or wild animals, or being hit by cars. The risk of reproductive system cancers is reduced to zero, and for females, so is the risk of pyometra, or infection of the uterine horns. Reductions in stress and physical illness lead to a longer, happier life for most animals. And, while an unspayed or unneutered pet is impossible to keep inside, the opposite is true of those who have been "fixed": They are now the perfect indoor pet!

If you were undecided about whether or not to spay or neuter your cat, I hope I have swayed you into making the decision to do so. Not only will you be happier, but so will your cat--who will reward you by making you, and not mother nature, the center of his or her universe.
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Amanda has worked with animals for many years and has always had cats in her life. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband and two excellent cats.
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