Living with cats in a responsible way


The human/feline relationship

Nine lives - really?

Do I have to vaccinate my cat?

Indoors or outdoors?

Sources of danger in the house

Cat = loner?

She's gotta have kittens once?

Litter box problems

Cats need to be punished?

Milk - the one and only drink for cats?

Human/feline communication

From a cat's point of view

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She's gotta have kittens once in her life?

There is no doubt - kittens are cute!! Is there anything sweeter in this world than these little fur balls? Is there anything that's more heartwarming than seeing these little ones playing with their litter mates? Having kittens around and seeing them grow up is indeed a wonderful experience!

But what will happen to them when they grow up? What happens to these sweet little babies when they're becoming adult cats? A female cat can have litters of four, five or even six kittens, and most of the time it's not possible to keep them all. So what will happen to these kittens?

Some of them may be lucky and find a good and loving home, but many of them will face a future that's not so bright. Maybe you have placed an ad in the newspaper and the one who responded doesn't have the best intentions for the cat: maybe it's going to be abandoned and tortured or will be sold to an animal testing lab for a few bucks. And those who are not adopted at all will sooner or later go to the shelter or will be facing a life on the streets, get kittens themselves and live the dangerous and distressful life of a stray, and so will their offspring.

Every summer the animal shelters are flooded with kittens and pregnant cats, and only of a few of them are lucky enough to be adopted and find a good place to live. And as far as the strays are concerned ... it's a romantic, but false imagination that these animals are living a happy life in freedom, appropriate to the species. Our urbanized environment doesn't offer much room for feline needs. They're living a life of starvation and illness, and often there are outbreaks of fatal diseases. These diseases are also a threat for outdoor cats who are living with humans.

Please consider all this if you have planned to let your cat have kittens!!

If there's an outdoor female cat living in your household, it's strongly recommended to have her spayed. Often you would hear people saying a cat should have given birth at least once her life, but it's a moot question whether you're doing your cat a favor - or yourself, because "kittens are just tooo cute"! Besides, a cat takes a lot of advantage of spaying, even when it's kept stricly indoors. It doesn't have to suffer when "nature calls", and there's no risk of uterus cancer. And when a female cat is spayed before the first heat, the risk of developing a mamma carcinoma (breast cancer) is reduced drastically.

If there's an outdoor male cat living in your family, neutering is a very important subject also. Look at it: You cannot control whose cat will be the mother of his kittens, and you don't know how her humans will react to her pregnancy. Maybe these people deal with this situation differently than you would; they might kill the kittens right after birth. Or they'll go to the shelter or will be abandoned and become ferals. However, having a tom cat dating can cause a lot of feline agony in the future. Please think about that!

Also, the life of neutered male cats will be much safer and healthier. They usually don't roam that much, and this reduces the danger of car accidents and other misadventures. Besides, neutered tom cats are usually less involved into cat fights with rivals, which means less injuries and a reduced risk of being infected with diseases. Especially FIV and rabies are passed on that way.

Generally spoken, birth control by means of spaying or neutering avoids further explosion of the feline population and thus a lot of suffering. Besides, spaying and neutering is also recommended when you have indoor cats. Female cats suffer when they're in heat, and they can develope a state of constant heat and abnormal behavior. And neutering a tom cat will decrease the likeliness of spraying and if not, at least the odor won't be that bad.

Besides, in many areas, there are animal welfare organizations trying to minimize the suffering of ferals by spaying/neutering them and - if possible - fostering.