Have you ever wondered if spay and neuter works to reduce pet overpopulation? The answer is a resounding yes, and we have the numbers to prove it! That’s right, we’re talking about math!
Now before you press the back button on your browser. bear with us here! An un-spayed female cat who roams and breeds regularly can have kittens approximately three times per year and will usually have between two and six kittens. For this example, let’s assume that our feline couple in this example have kittens three times per year and have four kittens per litter (the middle of the average litter range).
This means that just one pair of cats, in just one year, turn into 14 breeding cats! The next year, these 14 breeding cats each have three litters of four kittens and turn into 182 cats. The year after that, those 182 cats turn into 2366 cats. The year after that, we see an astonishing 30,758 cats… then 399,854… etc.
THAT, MY FRIENDS, IS A LOT OF HOMELESS CATS.
Now let’s run the same numbers, but assume half of the cats are spayed or neutered by responsible pet owners. Those numbers in the previous example now drop to: 1, 7, 49, 392 and 2744.
Now, we know that the example above is pretty simplified, and it also doesn’t take into account the high mortality rates for outdoor cats and kittens (the average lifespan for an outdoor cat is only 2-4 years and, in some locations, kitten mortality will approach 50-75%). But the question remains… how on earth does spay or neuter do so much to reduce cat overpopulation?
Well this is the wonder of exponents. By spaying or neutering one cat, you not only help protect the health of that cat (spayed or neutered cats are less likely to roam or develop cancer of their reproductive organs) but you also prevent future generations of cats who would otherwise be out and breeding. In just a few generations you can see a significant reduction in the number of unwanted felines, and the same can be shown for dogs.
DOES SPAY AND NEUTER WORK?
You bet it does! In Calgary, we have seen first hand how well spay and neuter works. In the 1990s, Calgary Humane Society saw the height of our animal admissions peak at over 13,000 animals per year, a majority of which were stray cats. Today? That number has fallen significantly to less than 7,500 animals per year. We have also seen a huge change in where these animals are coming from. In the 1990s, a vast majority of the animals received by CHS were stray or homeless animals found on the streets of Calgary whereas today the balance of stray vs. owner surrender is closer to 50/50. We are also seeing a lot more animals come in already spayed or neutered, which is an exciting trend!