Random PoP Thought – Don’t Spay or Neuter Your Cat?

by Prince Of Petworth February 5, 2008 at 11:00 pm 15 Comments

A while ago I shared our little secret of mice in the neighborhood. So I got a cat, Dingo, and since I got Dingo I haven’t seen any more mice. Now I was sitting on my porch the other day and I saw a stray cat walk by with a mouse in its mouth. And I thought – awesome! Why don’t we let nature run its course. Now don’t get me wrong, I like my cat and I’m glad Dingo has a nice home but would it be so wrong if we had dozens of cats on the street to take care of our mice problem? Wait, would we then have a cat problem?

  • Having just adopted a cat and done all the research, it is highly advisable to spay or neuter your cat or dog. The Washington Humane Society conducts a spay/neuter clinic http://www.washhumane.org/snclinic.asp and the various feral cat organizations would surely agree. Kittens born to unspayed cats on the streets will have short, miserable lives. Males cats left un-neutered will tend to spray urine to mark their territory, and act aggressive with each other. In fact, outdoor cats in general have a way, way shorter life expectancy than spayed/neutered indoor cats. So, not a very good idea. I’m sure others will chime in with better links.
    Not to mention, large numbers of stray cats running around will not limit their hunting to mice and rats, they will kill songbirds and anything else they can capture.

  • AngryParakeet

    I tilled the soil and planted a garden and it sprouted many cat feces. Also, have you had the displeasure of being awakened by the shriek of mating or fighting cats? It changes your attitude on the subject (ps I have a completely indoor spayed cat.)

  • I remember reading somewhere that if a pair of un-neutered cats were left to go forth and freely multiply, they and their offspring could produce as many as 5000 cats in 7 years.

    I’m not sure the city needs a 2500x increase in feline population. In fact, in spite of many different animal rescue groups’ ongoing spay/neuter campaigns, there’s already an overwhelming number of stray/feral cats around DC – hence the poop/noise problems AngryParakeet pointed out.

    On a personal note, I have a pair of former street cats that I scooped up in a parking lot. Whenever it rains, I’m always glad they’re not out braving the elements. It seems unfair to subject future generations of kittens to grow up cold, hungry and soggy.

  • Mike

    Me and several neighbors take care of a colony of feral cats that live in our alley in Columbia Heights. A few years back I noticed the cat population growing and worked with a neighbor to address the problem. TNR is the solution – trap, neuter, release. This gets the animals shots and also prevents them from multiplying further. Then you release them back into the environment from which they came and they will take care of your rodent problems. And since they’re territorial, they’ll prevent other cats from moving in. I think this is a good compromise as it doesn’t require that you make them house pets, it keeps the population under control, and it doesn’t entail destroying the animals. See http://www.alleycat.org/ for further details on dealing with feral cats.

  • Steve

    My wife and I scooped up a stray as well. I had a mouse problem and don’t anymore. They are simply the best mouse trap ever made. The WaPo ran an interesting article awhile back about cats. We did not choose them to be domesticated, they chose us. The article is called “Why Do Cats Hang Around Us? (Hint: They Can’t Open Cans).” I would link to it, but they make you buy the article.

  • Mark

    I don’t think the mouse population lives out where the feral cat population lives. In a broad sense isn’t that why we need domesticated cats?

  • dcdrew

    We once had a lot of feral cats in out alley. Someone had them neutered and eventually they all died off. Not we have a HUGE rat problem and rat poop is harder to clean up and smells worse that the cat poop ever did.

  • I am glad you brought this up! We already *do* have a cat problem. Stray and feral cats are a very real reality in every single neighborhood – owned cats are too often abandoned and those that are not neutered produce litters of untamable kittens. Unaddressed, the process continues and seems unstoppable.

    I am pleased to let you know that the Washington Humane Society now has a Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) program in place for the stray and feral cats in the DC metro area. Through the program, cats are brought to our National Capital Area Spay & Neuter Center (1001 L St., SE) where they are spayed/neutered; vaccinated for Rabies and FVRCP; eartipped; looked over for wounds or other obvious physical ailments; receive flea treatment; and receive an ear cleaning. The cats are then returned to their neighborhood home, where they live out their days under the watchful care of a community caregiver. And, yes, these cats *do* help to keep the rodent populations under control.

    This program is no-cost for cats residing in DC ($45 per cat for cats from outside DC), though certainly donations are always appreciated. We also can provide trap loans and trapping support of an experienced trapper. For more information, please visit: http://www.washhumane.org/catnipp.asp

    There are also low-cost services for owned cats (and dogs). You may find out more by visiting: http://www.washhumane.org/snclinic.asp or by calling 202-88-ALTER.

    -Bridget Speiser
    Program Manager
    CatNiPP – Cat Neighborhood Partnership Program
    Washington Humane Society
    202-608-1356 x 101

  • dcdude

    We have stray cats in our alley and they definitely help control the rat population. I also have to give props to my dog, who is also quite the fierce rat killer. On several occasions, I have walked out to our back patio to find a dead rat placed neatly in the center of the yard. It’s gross, but I’ll take a dead rat over a live one anyday.

  • Lindsay

    Our dachshund, Josie, is a terrific “mouser.” She has caught two in the house and we haven’t seen any in awhile. Also, she has the ability to catch flies with her mouth almost Mr. Miyagi-style which is kind of awesome but gross.

  • Back in the 1990s, there was a Washington Post article on a dog named Toby who was trained to hunt and kill rats. His owner used to go to Dupont Circle or Lafayette Park at night, and say “rats, Toby, rats!” and the dog would take off after them. Does anyone else remember this?

  • Toby

    I’m not that same Toby, BTW, but what a great dog he must have been. We have 3 cats, 2 relatively new ones we just got from a rescue group. It was as if we were adopting a child, with all the paperwork plus the home visit. Not one of them chases mice, but they don’t go out and we don’t have mice in our house. I should take one of them to the school where I teach. We’ve had mice in the classrooms. As for stray or outside cats, several of them visit our backyard, which is a bit inaccessible, since we have a garage at the end of our yard. They hang out, visit at different times of day and generally enjoy their lives. I constatnly argue with my children and am adamant about keeping our cats as inside pets. Wasn’t there a report of a coyote near Grant Circle? There even was a wild raccoon under our porch for a few hours. The outside world is full of dangers for animals.

  • amyc

    According to Animal Control many, many of the feral cats in DC have rabies…. If your pet got into a tussle with a feral cat, please get them checked for rabies. My dogs had a run with 2 alley cats this fall and they had to be quarantined for 45 days.

  • Otis Gal

    WARL (Washington Animal Rescue League) will spay or neuter your dog or cat FOR FREE if you live in the District.

  • Parkwood Person

    Having found a nearly dead cat in the road on Holmead Pl this past Thursday night, (it was hit by a car I’m guessing) and taking it to the humane society to be euthanized, all the while the poor thing gasping and panting for air during the longest 12 minute car ride of of my life; I will opine that having more strays out of the streets of an urban city is not the answer.


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