Updated: Aug 6, 2021
The true cost of not spaying and neutering your cats is counted in the lives of unborn kittens.
This is a difficult blog entry. There’s just no other way to say it. I decided to share this with you all, our wonderful TLC family, because I think that honesty and truth are important in education, even when it’s uncomfortable.
This is a picture of a uterus I removed from a pregnant feral cat today. It contains six nearly full term unborn kittens, still deeply anesthetized after the surgical removal of the uterus from their mother. This photo was taken moments before the unborn kittens were each euthanized through the wall of the uterus.
This picture is uncomfortable. It makes me uncomfortable. It makes my tech uncomfortable. It should make you uncomfortable. This is the reality of working with feral cats. This is what happens when people don’t responsibly spay and neuter their cats. A person might think, “just one litter for the farm,” or “the kids need to see the miracle of life.” People put them on Facebook, on Craigslist, trying to home the kittens. They might have the mother cat spayed at that point, or they may let her continue to have litter after litter.
What happens to the kittens? Even if homes are found, will the new owners spay and neuter the kittens? All of them? A few are bound to slip through the cracks and become feral. They eek out a living in barns, skulking around towns, flitting around behind the scenes, doing their best to survive in a world with no real home and no one to provide them care. Prolific reproducers, feral cats multiply rapidly. Most of the kittens suffer and die of disease, exposure to elements, starvation, or predation, but the strongest kittens manage to stay alive to adulthood and continue the cycle. The lucky ferals are trapped by veterinarians and our partners who work with TNR (trap/neuter/release) programs to vaccinate, spay and neuter, provide medical care, and return them to their colonies no longer sentenced to lives of constant reproductive stress.
That brings us back to this uncomfortable picture. Every time I spay a pregnant TNR feral, it hurts my heart deeply. Today we only euthanized 11 unborn kittens. Some TNR days it’s upwards of 70. It takes a toll on everyone who works with these animals. It feels like it is never ending. This is the harsh reality of human irresponsibility. This is what happens when we have “just one litter.” It’s never, ever just one. Please. Please. Spay and neuter your cats. Looking for ways to help? Spread the word about spaying and neutering. Learn about TNR, and tell people about the program. Consider donating money, food, or time to a local spay/neuter or TNR program. Most importantly, spay and neuter. Please.