Should your beautiful cat have kittens?
“I want my cat to have kids. I don’t want her genes to go to waste.”
When the person I was talking to uttered those words, I wasn’t surprised at all. It wasn’t the first time someone told me they wanted a mate for their cat. It was also not the first time I took a deep breath, braced myself for a potentially futile discussion, and started casually talking about why wanting a cat to give birth to kittens isn’t the same as expecting human grandchildren.
I looked at the cat—friendly and gorgeous, but caged all day with a tight harness which, from the looks of it, had yet to be adjusted since she was a kitten—and was tempted to roll my eyes and say, “You can’t even take care of one cat and you’re planning to have more?!? Well, that would be a waste of her genes, indeed!”
While it was easy for me to jump on the wagon of self-righteous judgment, not jumping off would have accomplished nothing. Taking the time to speak with other purrents who were uninitiated in matters of animal welfare was the better option; after all, I was just as ignorant not so long ago. And in case you’re also thinking of finding a mate for your cat, here’s an opportunity for you to find out if spay is really the way… and if neuter is truly cuter.
Why purrents want grandkittens (and why their reasons aren’t good enough)
I knew absolutely nothing about animal welfare when I decided to bring home Hunter, a dachshund looking forlornly at me from the pet store window. I didn’t realize back then that buying a dog would perpetuate the cycle of irresponsible breeding and equally-irresponsible buying… or that a homeless dog would have been saved from the shelter if only I had decided to adopt instead.
More than ten years has passed since I first made the oh-so-naïve decision to buy a pet. I’ve learned a lot about my furry companions since then, thanks to friends who had the patience to deal with my ignorance.
Although I still have much to learn, it is my turn to help fellow purrents make tough decisions! So, do you want grandkittens? I know that this desire usually comes from a place of love, but you just might change your mind after you read about why cat owners want their fur-babies to have kids (and why these reasons just aren’t good enough).
1.“I want grandkittens the same way I want grandchildren”
Human grandchildren bring so much love to a home! However, expecting fur-babies to give us grandkittens is unnecessarily putting their lives at stake.
An intact female cat will always be at risk for pyometra, a potentially life-threatening infection of the uterus. She will also stay at risk for many types of tumors until she gets spayed.
Here’s an idea: If you’re really craving for grandkitties, then adopt a kitten or two instead! They may not have your fur-baby’s genes, but I for one will choose my cat’s health over a chance to hug her kittens any day. How about you?
2.”My cat might want to have kittens”
Since we do not fully understand cat language, we will never know if our cats do want to have kittens in the future. Then again, they also want to roam the streets, catch potentially rabid mice, and pick fights with stray cats—should we let them do what they want, even if it means endangering their lives?
Birthing kittens is risky business: A cat may suffer from complications of dystocia, or difficult labor, which has many causes. A caesarian section may be necessary if a cat in labor can’t give birth safely.
If the mother cat does survive birthing, she may suffer from a slew of postpartum conditions, such as painful swelling of mammary glands, hemorrhage, and infection that can lead to lethal sepsis, among others.
3.“My cat might want to have sex”
Considering a cat’s feelings when deciding whether to have them fixed or not is, um, sweet. However, you might think twice if you realized how painful sex could be for female cats.
Male cats have barbed penises (ouch!) to help ensure that they mate successfully. This means a world of pain for the female cat—now you know why they wail painfully when mating.
You can say that having cats spayed or neutered means they won’t be obligated to look for a sadomasochistic relationship!
4.“I can make a living by selling my fur-baby’s kittens”
Yes, you might, but aside from earning money, you will also be earning the wrath of people who have spent their lives educating others about the horrors of backyard breeding!
Loving a cat means refusing to turn him or her into a moneymaking kitten machine. Loving a cat means never expecting him or her to breed. The only thing we should expect from a fur-baby we truly care for is a unique brand of love, give or take a few scratches and love bites.
5.“My cat will enjoy the company of her kids when she grows old”
Cats can be wonderful parents. Sitti, a cat we rescued from a locked storeroom (and featured in one of our issues last year), kept breastfeeding her kittens despite having no access to water or food for weeks.
Many other cats like her take very good care of their kittens. However, when their kittens reach about three months, the maternal bond may decay and disappear altogether.
It isn’t safe to assume that your cat’s children will be good company for her in the future. If you want your cat to have a friend or two, try adopting another cat instead. If a new cat is properly introduced, your resident cat should accept his or her company just fine. You can do away with the dangers of birthing, plus you get to save another cat from a lifetime of homelessness.
6.“I don’t want my cat’s good genes to go to waste”
I absolutely agree. I don’t want your cat’s genes to go to waste, either… which is why I don’t want him or her to risk life or limb just to pass on some good genes to the next generation.
Besides, the world won’t run out of good cat genes. Because street cats have undergone natural selection instead of selective breeding by humans, the fittest get to survive and pass on their excellent genes to their offspring.
NEUTER IS CUTER
Spaying and neutering give a lot of other benefits to both you and your cat! Say goodbye to feline escape artists, cat pee all over the house, and fighting between toms!
Consult a vet or two and ask why neuter is cuter for your gorgeous cat. The benefits often outweigh the risks.
If you decide to have your cat spayed or neutered, post photos of your cat’s successful surgery on Instagram and use either the hashtag #spayistheway or #neuteriscuter – that way, other purrents can reach out to you and congratulate you for giving your fur-baby the best gift ever: a longer, healthier, less stressful life.
This appeared in Animal Scene’s May 2017 issue.