Chatham Animal Rescue and Education, Inc.
Simple Solution to Pet Overpopulation

Here we are, almost knee-deep in another kitten season. More than half the calls we get at Adopt A Pet (a California canine rescue group), are cat related during kitten season. The feline rescue groups are totally overwhelmed. Why don't people realize there is a simple solution to the problem?

Who does it hurt? The public pocketbook. For every 11 cats that go into this country's pounds, only 1 makes it out alive. An estimated $35 is spent to handle each animal in the pound (includes overhead, housing, feeding and lethal injection). By taking advantage of spay/neuter assistance programs, your cat's surgery can cost that price, and maybe even less. Considering that over a million cats are killed in this country's shelters each year, that means that over $35 million dollars are spent just to kill cats. Instead of spending so much of our tax dollars on killing our companion animals, that money could be used to help homeless people, abused children, or even just reduce our taxes. Just think -- your neighbors negligence or your own is causing higher taxes. Is that acceptable to you?

Who does it hurt when you don't spay or neuter your cat? ME! It hurts me when after the 40th call of the day, trying to give the best advice I can to people who have unwanted kittens, I answer the phone to someone who angrily accuses me of not caring, wanting to know what I think I'm being paid for (I'm a volunteer), and then proceeds to try to intimidate me with the horrible things she is going to do to her unwanted kittens.

Who does it hurt? Neighbors who find litters of kittens deposited on their front doorstep, or abandoned under their house and are now forced to make a decision that the irresponsible "owner" couldn't make. There are simply not enough homes for all of the cats born in this country. So this kind soul has sleepless nights because he may be forced to take the animals to the pound to be destroyed, while the irresponsible "owner" sleeps peacefully in the erroneous belief that the kittens will have found good homes. Or worse yet, the owner may not even know that his cat has produced kittens. Is this fair?

Who does it hurt? I received a call from an elderly lady who is deathly allergic to cats, and all the cats in the neighborhood have taken up residence in her yard. She is finding it difficult to get in and out of her own home, having to hold her breath to walk as fast as she can to her car, fearing that the cats, trying to rub against her legs, will trip her. This desperate woman has tried calling every cat group and found that they are all full, and the cutbacks in state services have reduced the help that Animal Control can give.

Who does it hurt? The children whose parents thought it educational to show them the miracle of birth and those same children who first suffer grief and then quickly learn lack of compassion when kitten after kitten are killed by cars and they have to see these squashed little cat bodies while walking to school. The children who quickly learn that life is cheap. The children who are in danger of contracting rabies from cats that are seldom given rabies shots and who at any time may come into contact with skunks, bats, or other wild animals who may be infected with this deadly disease.

Who does it hurt the most? The animals are the ones who truly suffer. The 3-day-old kitten who dies slowly of starvation under a bush. The kitten that climbs into a warm car engine for the night and gets chopped up by the fan belt when the car starts in the morning. The cat that never having been treated kindly by humans, needs extra restraints without the benefit of even that last tender moment during euthanasia, because it is just too scared to hold still. The cats that become coyote food. The cats given away in front of supermarkets to "good homes" that are abandoned shortly after. The cats that should have expected that since they are domestic animals, whose birth can be controlled, they would not be born if they weren't wanted by people who would protect and care for them for the rest of their lives.

Are you one of those people who are hurting all of us by allowing your cat (or dog) to go unspayed or unneutered? If you cat is not "fixed," you are the problem. Don't adopt a cat/kitten unless you are ready to make the appointment for spaying or neutering. If you have a cat, DO IT NOW. All cats should be spayed/neutered by 6 months of age and can be safely done as young as 8 weeks. NO - it is not healthier for an animal to go through its first heat before altering. NO - it is not better for an animal to have one litter. And NO - we will never run out of cats.

Please save this article and show it to a neighbor or friend that is harboring an unaltered cat. Help make a difference before the next kitten season arrives.

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