The Best Way to Prevent Cat and Dog Deaths

In a recent column, I mentioned that kitten season is almost here. Kitten season is the time of year all animal rescue organizations and shelter dread, as the facilities will be flooded with mama cats and their kittens – needing food, medical care, safety, warmth and if they’re lucky, homes. Many shelters commit to finding homes and not euthanizing the surplus of cats, but many shelters simply kill the thousands upon thousands of cats and kittens that make their way to shelters each year.

The sad truth is that there are simply not enough homes available for the animals who need homes. And that results in the DEATHS OF NEARLY 4 MILLION ANIMALS EACH YEAR IN AMERICAN SHELTERS.

More cats than dogs are killed, because there just ARE more cats. It’s hard to say where all these cats come from. Many are no doubt pets who had litters that people just didn’t want to deal with. Many are feral cats that people have trapped and brought in, and some are community cats – those that belong to no one, but are fed by kind-hearted people. When the flood of cats and kittens hit, shelters scramble to find places for them all, and that’s where the foster network is, literally, a life saver. Kittens are usually adopted – they’re adorable, and who can resist a kitten? But the mama cats may linger for ages in the shelter. And as I said, many thousands of them are euthanized all around this country, each day.

There is an easy way to prevent the deaths, the expense, the overcrowding brought on by too many animals, and not enough homes to go around: spay and neuter your pets! Just do it, people. It is not true that females should have a litter before being spayed. Spaying actually prevents a host of health problems down the line. Spay early. Your male animals will not be any less male, any less protective if you neuter them. They may stay closer to home, and that’s a good thing because you shouldn’t be letting your pets run free anyway – it’s dangerous! Your male pets are not attached to their “manhood” the way humans are. Trust me, they’ll be fine if they’re neutered. Neuter your pets. Just do it.

And what about all those feral cats and community cats? They can be spayed and neutered, too. The Jackson County shelter has humane traps you can borrow, and several local agencies provide free or low-cost spay/neuter surgeries. Many places around the country have trap/neuter/release (TNR) programs where feral/community cats are spayed and neutered and then returned to the neighborhood where they live. Studies have shown that over time this approach significantly reduces or eliminates populations of feral cats, safely and humanely. Cats stay in and protect their home territories, keeping other feral cats out. Conversely, trapping and killing feral cats had shown to simply make room for different cats to move in, and the problems continue year after year. Not only does neutering stop the growth of the colony, it eliminates many undesirable behaviors such as spraying, yowling, wandering and littering. TNR makes feral cats better neighbors. If you have feral or community cats in your neighborhood, please considering trapping them humanely, and taking advantage of spaying and neutering. The following organizations offer humane traps to borrow, and offer low-cost spay neuter services.

Jackson County Animal Services –541-774-6654. http://jacksoncountyor.org/hhs/Animal-Services
SNYP- Spay/Neuter Your Pet: 541-858-3325. www.spayneuter.org
CATS – Committed Alliance to Strays: 541-779-2916. www.catsandkittens.org. Does not offer surgeries, but is a shelter for stray and abandoned cats.

Please, help save lives. Spay or neuter your pets and the homeless cats in your community neighborhood.

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