July marks National Desexing Month, and RSPCA Victoria is reminding animal lovers that desexing is an important part of responsible pet ownership.
Animals that aren’t desexed often result in unwanted litters that all too frequently come through the doors at RSPCA Victoria. Cats are of particular concern because they can reproduce from an early age, reproduce frequently and have large litters.
“To provide perspective, just one female cat and her female offspring have the potential to produce five thousand kittens in just seven years,” says RSPCA Victoria’s CEO, Dr Liz Walker.
In 2019/20 over 9,500 cats/kittens were admitted to RSPCA Victoria, with less than 2000 of them desexed prior to arrival.
Cats are the second most popular pet with 29% of households in Australia owning a cat. However, over 30% of owned cats are not desexed before six months of age, resulting in cat-overpopulation and a significant cat welfare issue.
“We’ve set ourselves the ambitious goal of desexing all owned and semi-owned cats in Victoria to improve their welfare and reduce the impact on our state’s pound and shelter system, the broader community and the environment,” says Dr Walker.
Desexing is a routine medical operation performed by a veterinarian with the use of anaesthesia. The vet removes the animal’s reproductive organs to prevent them from breeding.
RSPCA Victoria wants to correct the misconceptions that surround desexing.
“Desexing will not change the personality of your pet and in fact, desexing actually has health benefits for animals. In female pets, it can reduce the risk of mammary cancer and other risks associated with pregnancy. Desexing also removes unwanted behaviours that can occur when an animal is in heat, such as yowling, aggression and roaming.”
Cats can be desexed from as early as four months, while dogs can be desexed from six months of age. However, each animal should be assessed on a case-by-case basis according to their age, weight, and medical history. Veterinarians may advise earlier or later desexing dates.
RSPCA Victoria is currently running two desexing initiatives to help address the cat welfare issues in Victoria.
In partnership with the Melbourne Queer Film Festival (MQFF), RSPCA Victoria launched a short film competition DeSexy Snippets, to help promote the benefits of desexing and the associated positive impacts on animal welfare. The public can vote for their favourite short film via social media later this year.
RSPCA Victoria also launched Mildura Loves Pets this month. As part of the project, free desexing, vaccination and microchipping clinics will be available to all pet owners in the region.
“These initiatives highlight RSPCA Victoria’s dedication to desexing the majority of household pets
throughout the state and improve animal welfare by reducing the number of stray animals that come through our doors,” says Dr Walker.