Overpopulation of cats is a significant animal welfare concern globally. Ifcats are not desexed prior to puberty, this can result in the production oflarge numbers of unwanted kittens. Therefore, pre-pubertal desexing (PPD) isan important component of cat population management. Veterinarians are a keysource of information for cat owners and play a key role in educating ownersand promoting PPD in cats. The aim of this study was to investigate ways thatveterinary practices promote desexing of cats and perceptions of theireffectiveness.
This study was conducted in Queensland and involved an online questionnairedistributed to 517 Queensland veterinary practices. The questionnaireconsisted of 12 questions on the role of veterinarians in helping to reducecat overpopulation, the recommended age that cats be desexed, the averageactual age that cats are desexed at the practice, what steps the practicetakes to promote desexing, and how successful these are perceived to be.
Desexing at the age of 6 months (later than puberty in most cats) wasrecommended by 45% of participants. In 30% of the practices, cats were desexedafter 6 months, usually after having a litter. Most practices take severalsteps to encourage their clients to have their cats desexed, including 1)discussing desexing at vaccination appointments and 2) suggesting desexing atthe cat’s final vaccination. The most common barriers to desexing catsperceived by practitioners were cost, desexing not being considered a priorityby owners, beliefs that it is best to allow the cat to have a litter beforedesexing and perceptions that the operation is dangerous.
The findings of this study indicate that, while veterinarians agree that catsneed to be desexed before having their first litter, desexing of cats isusually performed after puberty and often after a cat had already had a litterof kittens. Thus, it is important to increase the proportion of veterinariansboth recommending and conducting PPD.
Paterson M, O’Donoghue M, Jamieson P et al (2020) The cat desexing policiesand activities of private veterinary practices in Queensland. Animals 10(5):841
Reported in RSPCA Animal Welfare Science Update
Previous According to Air Mail, San Francisco is now home to more dogs thanchildren
Next Test confirms no trace of coronavirus in ACT sewage