Spaying and neutering your animals: Responsible pet care – Part 12

Last Saturday I had just come in from cleaning up the yard after Thursday’s hail storm when the phone rang. It was one of my best friend’s daughter and she was bubbling over with excitement.

“Cookie,” she exclaimed, “you’ll never believe what’s just happened!”

“Tell me,” I said.

“You know that stray cat that comes around our house sometimes,” she asked. “Well, it’s on our back porch in a potted plant and it has a baby! I’m afraid that if I go near her she’ll run off and leave her baby but I want to make sure she’s okay. Can you come over and help?”


Of course I threw off my gardening gloves and went straight over. I checked the cat to make sure there were no more kittens in her and we put her and the baby on a kitty bed with some food and water near by. We talked about spaying the mother and baby and how lucky they were that the cat (now named Muffin) only had one kitten. They are choosing to keep them both, a happy ending all around.

This time of year is known to Animal Control Officers as puppy and kitten season. Every day animal shelters across the country brace themselves for the daily onslaught of unwanted and often sickly litters brought in by the public. At our local shelter they are already receiving up to four litters a day, and that number will only increase through the month of May.

Why so many unwanted litters?

Many pet owners want to breed their purebred dog or cat “just one time” so their children can see the process (and to pay for their vacation to Disney World). What they don’t realize because of their inexperience is that an animal in heat will attract their male counterparts from MILES away. A dog will do most anything to get over a fence to mate with a female and unless a cat in heat is kept inside 24/7 it absolutely will be bred. What a surprise the family will have when their beautiful golden retriever gives birth to a colorful mix of puppies that look nothing like her, but amazingly like their neighbor’s Pit Bull or something they don’t even recognize. Nine times out of ten, that litter ends up at the animal shelter.

Then there are the “professional breeders.” The kind that give reputable, dedicated breeders a bad name. These can consist of back yard breeders or full blown Puppy Mills. Their dogs or cats have litter after litter only to be sold through ads in the paper, the Walmart parking lot or trade day events. The pups and kitties that aren’t sold – for whatever reason – are brought to the shelter.

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