In Room 1: A very cranky 9-month- old cat presents because last night she delivered 4 dead kittens. The queen seems healthy as she swats my stethoscope with her razor-sharp claws. I understand her irritability. She went through 63 days of pregnancy and the attentions of a tom cat for this? It is time to spay her so this can’t happen again.
In Room 2: A Good Samaritan found two orphaned kittens under her shed. One is a male and the other is a female. They weigh only 12 ounces each—so tiny! But things don’t look so good for these kittens. They are weak and refusing to eat. They are covered with fleas, likely anemic, and have diarrhea. Poor little orphaned babies. Have to warm them, force feed them, and rid them of fleas fast! What a way to start life.
In Room 3: A very pregnant recently adopted cat. She has been hanging around the neighborhood for weeks. Nobody claimed her until a young woman decided to take her in. The ultrasound shows that all the fetuses are viable. It is too late to vaccinate now. Will just test the queen to be sure she is negative for feline leukemia virus, feline immunodeficiency virus, and feline heartworm disease. It will be an ethical dilemma to deal with if she tests positive.
In Room 4: A new kitten. Someone was giving away free kittens in front of the grocery store. Isn’t he cute? But now he needs vaccines, deworming, flea control, heartworm prevention, treated for ear mites, and neutered. The free kitten no longer looks like such a good deal to the adopters. They cannot afford the medical care needed to keep the kitten healthy. Nothing in life is ever free, especially when it is a very young pet or a very old pet.
I think of myself as the “spay/neuter Nazi” on days like this. Each of these cats is suffering because of lack of sterilization. I’ve done my fair share of sterilization surgeries to try and prevent tragedies like these. Last year I personally sterilized more than 5000 cats and dogs. But they just keep coming. I am on a mission to help my clients sterilize their pets before they can reproduce.
Did you know that intact female cats all go “in heat” together? Their reproductive cycles are tied to daylight cycles. As the days begin to lengthen, cats go into season! And, they stay “in season” until they are bred. Unlike dogs, cats only ovulate when they are bred. Then they carry the fetuses for 63 days, give birth, and go back into season. Each queen can produce about three or four litters during a “kitten season.” That is a lot of kittens! I better get busy in surgery….
Dr. Spencer practices at Bayonet Point Animal Clinic in Port Richey