Fix By Five and Make a Difference
I want to add my voice to the Feline Fix by Five campaign. I have treated many cats who were pregnant before six months. It is not rare in my experience. If we wait until 6 months, there will be many litters that will add to the cat overpopulation problem.
In Japan, most veterinarians recommend spaying and neutering cats over six months of age. At veterinary schools we are taught how to spay and neuter, but there is no debate on the optimal age. When we graduate, it is left up to each veterinarian to decide when to perform this operation. When I graduated and went to work at a clinic, the common belief held was 6 months. There was no concrete reason for this belief. Most likely it was because of the misconception about the risk of surgery involving anesthesia for kittens and urinary obstruction in males. There is no scientific evidence to support these purported risks.
The six months rule should be changed to Fix by Five. I am planning to educate veterinarians about the benefits of early spay/neuter. More importantly, I want to dispel the belief that it is dangerous. I have personally performed over 500 Fix by Five operations and all these cats are living healthy lives.
I have decided to open a clinic where vets can receive training. There are only a few spay clinics in Japan and most veterinarians are not trained to perform high volume/low cost spay/neuter. To solve the cat overpopulation problem, we need more trained veterinarians.
I have a small spay clinic in Osaka, but I feel it is not enough to tackle this problem, so I want to build a new clinic where vets can learn pediatric and high volume spay/neuter techniques. I want this clinic to be a place where not only vets but veterinary students and the public can learn about Fix by Five and the importance of spay/neuter in improving the quality of life for cats.
It is my dream to open a clinic where not only cat owners but also people dealing with strays can consult about anything regarding cats. I want to build a community that improves animal welfare. Veterinarians need to be leaders in this effort.
Eriko Hashimoto DVM, is owner and head vet at Happy Tabby Clinic in Osaka, Japan. Her clinic specializes in feline spay/neuter, including pediatric and high-volume surgery. A graduate of Osaka University’s department of Veterinary Science, Dr. Hashimoto opened her clinic after training in small animal medical technique. In 2020, Happy Tabby Clinic performed 3,500 surgeries.
Dr. Hashimoto is also active in humane education with a kindergarten visitation program and two picture books dealing with animal welfare issues. “A Story of a Stray Mom Cat” introduces TNR and the plight of feral cats and was privately published with funds donated through public schools. Her second book, “An Abandoned Cat’s Story” will be published in July.