For a vast majority of us, pets, especially dogs and cats, are an integral part of our family. They are our companions, our four legged friends and for some of us, almost our children. It therefore stands to reason that we want the best for them, both in their health and quality of life.
One, sometimes contentious issue, is that of desexing. Some would say, that desexing your pet is part and parcel of owning a dog or cat, perhaps even a responsibility, especially when resources in our communities that provide care for those unfortunate and discarded animals are stretched to the limit both in terms of space and funding.
Consider these statistics for a moment
RSPCA alone nationally takes in excess of 160,000 unwanted dogs and cats into their shelters annually. This doesn’t include local council based and not for profit organisations who take many more animals into their care.
During the financial year 2010/11 57% of cats and around 20% of dogs received into the care of the RSPCA were euthanised. In all, nationally, it was estimated that approx. 300,000 – 400,000 dogs and cats were euthanised that year. These figures do not include pets which were humanely euthanised due to ill health.
Some authorities around Australia have taken a stance on desexing of cats in particular and have passed either local or state laws making the process of desexing, along with micro chipping your cat, mandatory. It is now law in Western Australia (from 1/11/13) for all domestic cats over 6 months to be sterilised as well as micro chipped, with fines of up to $5500 for non-compliance. Other areas include ACT and some local councils in Victoria. If unsure check with your local branch RSPCA and they can advise.
Why desex your pet in the first place? (apart from the obvious reason of no babies!)
- They are less likely to suffer life threatening illnesses of the reproductive organs and other related illnesses
- Reduces behavioural issues such as aggression and urine spraying and marking in males
- Reduces roaming in cats and therefore the likelihood of being in a traumatic accident such as being hit by a car
- Less unwanted animals being dumped on shelters and pounds
Is it expensive and what if I can’t afford it?
Costs for the procedure vary according to the size, weight and gender of the animal. A general price range for dogs would be $200 – $500 and for cats $115 – $300.
This is still a considerable cost for someone on a tight budget but there are ways that you can reduce the cost.
In Western Australia, the Cat Haven offers a ‘Snip and Chip’ to cat owners on low incomes for $50.
RSPCA Victoria offer low cost desexing and micro chipping of both cats and dogs with discounts for concession card holders of 10%.
There is also a national program for reduced fee desexing of both cats and dogs through their participating local vets via the National Desexing Network. To see if you qualify, just need to fill out a form online. Once completed just take to your local participating vet.
What age can I have my pet desexed?
In the past it was generally accepted that around 6 months of age was the most suitable, however, over the last decade, EAD (early age desexing) has become more common and is recommended by the RSPCA. Advantages to having the procedure at an earlier age, from as early as 8 weeks of age include:
- Surgery is simpler and therefore a quicker recovery.
- The incision site is smaller with less tissue involvement and trauma, bleeding reduced, less time under anaesthesia with wound healing much more quickly.
- More common place EAD will ultimately mean that less unwanted animals end up in our shelters and pounds. It is a fact that cats and dogs may reach the maturity to be able to reproduce from as early as 4 months of age.
Most desexing procedures will mean that your pet is only at the vet for the day, drop them off in the morning and collect in the afternoon. The procedure can be fully explained by your vet beforehand.
There will always be those that would argue the need for regulation and/or laws regarding desexing of cats in particular, but common sense and peace of mind perhaps should prevail. I know I would rather not have to deal with the logistics and possible complications from an unexpected litter of kittens or puppies, or manage the heartache, trauma and potential costs arising from an accident involving a straying animal.