This is a letter I got published in the Claremont/Rondebosch People’s Post on 1 November 2011. It’s just a short comment (350 word limit) on an article on the SPCA and having cats sterilised. With no hyperlinks and limited space to try get a number of points across it is perhaps not a great piece so I may just write a follow up to further flesh out the points and provide better reasons.
It is a shame that there are suffering kittens around but I can’t help finding it a very uncomfortable proposition to sterilise all cats. Sterilisation is not risk-free, despite what brochures may lead you to believe, and there are consequences from both the surgery and the subsequent hormonal changes. This means that sterilisation may not be in the cat’s best interest, particularly for pet cats.
So how then do we deal with the unwanted kittens? One option would be to look for medical alternatives, like the pill for humans, which would prevent the need for surgery and present less of an ethical dilemma. Even better would be if cat owners kept their cats isolated while in oestrus so they cannot become pregnant. The reason this solution will be ignored is that it actually requires people to put some effort into looking after their pets.
Pets, no matter how you look at them, are still living creatures. If you aren’t prepared to make sacrifices to care for your pet then you shouldn’t have one in the first place. They are not objects with no moral value from which you can just add or remove parts as you see fit. If you are going to spend your time altering your pet then it might be worth asking whether what you really want is a cat or just a warm, fluffy toy.
I’m not saying sterilisation is always bad, just that it is actually a question that needs serious consideration. More important than enforcing our ideas onto cats is teaching people to properly care for cats and to realise they are living creatures and, if you want one, you need to accept all aspects of it.