By Linda Chitwood, Director, Homeless Animals Relief Project, Senatobia, Mississippi
A man once called us about getting his cat and her litter of kittens fixed. When I picked them up for surgery, I found three six-week-old kittens, and a four-pound juvenile kitten that I assumed was from a previous litter. I asked the owner to help me find the mother, so we could get her fixed too. He pointed to the juvenile kitten. This little kitten, not even a year old, was the mother of this litter.
Kittens are cute and cuddly and entertaining to everyone in the family. The owners figure they will get their cats fixed when they are “old enough.” But kittens grow into cats and cats are sometimes put outdoors. It’s only a matter of time before they are pregnant — far sooner than anyone thought would happen. Owners often tell me, “I didn’t know they could get pregnant so soon!”
Some people will reject the pregnant kitten outright, abandon her on the street or relinquish her to an animal shelter – if they can find one that will take her. Others may let the pregnancy proceed so the kids can “witness the miracle of life.” Other owners believe that once a cat is pregnant, she cannot be spayed.
So, we have more unwanted litters being born, causing issues for our communities. As a result, the local animal shelter continues the sorrowful daily euthanasia of adorable kittens for whom there are simply not enough homes. People say they would “take them all if they could.” Of course, they cannot, and I cannot, and that leaves us with more kittens than available homes. There is no one on the planet who wants a cat that cannot rescue one off the street, get one from a neighbor whose cat had a litter, or adopt one from animal shelter.Until the day comes when we don’t have to euthanize cats because of a lack of homes, we will promote the Fix by Five campaign in Mississippi.. Click To Tweet
Until the day comes when we don’t have to euthanize cats because of a lack of homes, we will promote the Fix by Five campaign in Mississippi. Over the years, we’ve had kittens come in for surgery who were already in-heat at just 14- to 16-weeks-old. What a relief to get them spayed before they become pregnant. Early-age spay/neuter is tried and true, repeatedly proven safe, and stops the killing of unwanted litters.
We urge people to get their pets fixed by five-months-old and to ask their veterinarians when they recommend getting cats fixed to their clients. If they’re still telling folks to wait until cats are six-months-old, educate them now. If they won’t change this practice, support a veterinarian who’s willing to be a part of the solution and who will fix cats by five-months-old.
Linda Chitwood is the Director of Homeless Animals Relief Project in Senatobia, Mississippi. Founded in 1996, the organization has spent the last 23 years providing free or low-cost spay/neuter for low-income pet owners and feral cats in the community.