Mating and reproduction is now under human control by means of neutering and spaying. This drastic measure, of stopping the instinct at source, is the only way to be absolutely sure that ordinary household cats don’t have kittens.
Cats which are not neutered are escape artists when in search of sex – as the small ads for “pedigree cross kittens” reveal. Most domestic pets are neutered and spayed but the ready supply of unwanted kittens at cat rescue shelters, often the offspring of stray or feral cats, suggests that we are still losing the battle to reduce the world wide stray cat population.
We try to persuade people to get their cats neutered, but stray kittens still appear on the streets. One problem is that we do not spay the female soon enough. A female cat can get pregnant at four months of age, much earlier than the traditional age for spaying which is six months. Some females get pregnant even earlier at three months.
Neutering and spaying are essential for those who want a relaxed and close relationship with a pet. And, in a world where thousands of cats end up in rescue shelters, it is selfish to insist on yet another litter of kittens just for human amusement. Besides un-neutered tomcats are noisy, smelly and roam around looking for sex and getting into fights.
They spray urine to advertise their whereabouts to females, leaving messages which probably say something like “Come up and see me sometime.” Female cats are so extraordinarily fertile that a single female can produce 200 kittens in her lifetime and (if all the kittens survived) there would be as many as 65,536 extra cats in the world five years later. Of course most stray females don’t leave this number of descendants because they die worn out by kitten bearing. Stray female cats don’t usually live long lives.
They breed two or three times and then they die young. Neutering allows our cats to enjoy the deep peace of the warm house instead of the hurly-burly and excitement of life and love on the roof tops. They live longer healthier lives. Sexual behaviour does not continue after neutering but maternal behaviour – caring and loving – remains.
Cats will use the language of family love in the cat-human relationship, either treating us as kittens or sisters or mothers. Some cats will knead their owners, treading with their feet, just like a kitten treads with its feet while it suckles from its mother.