The birds and the bees
If you haven’t had your pets neutered this season could welcome unexpected bundles of pups and kittens. Thousands of unwanted pets are abandoned every year and put to sleep because there aren’t enough homes, so it’s important to take the necessary steps to prevent this.
THE REPRODUCTIVE CYCLE
As day length increases cats show signs of heat (oestrus). Entire male cats (tom cats) often display urine-marking behaviour, have a tendency to stray and could fight with other cats, resulting in cat bite injuries and the spread of feline disease. The natural mating season is March September, so if your cat is entire, over five months old and you don’t intend to breed, it’s advised that he/she is neutered.
Oestrus is the period of the cycle when the cat can become pregnant and lasts approximately 7-10 days. They may start rubbing against objects, become more vocal, demand affection and attempt to escape to find a mate. The average pregnancy lasts around 68 days.
Dogs usually have a season every six months, but this varies with breed types and individuals. A dog’s season lasts approximately 14-21 days, you may notice some spotting of blood from the vulva at the beginning of the cycle. Pregnancy lasts for approximately 63 days.
Neutering involves removing both testicles from males (castration), and the entire uterus and ovaries (ovariohysterectomy) from females. Costs vary, but if you receive benefits the RSPCA, the Dogs Trust or Cats Protection League can provide financial aid. Neutering can avoid unwanted pregnancies, can help with some behavioural issues in dogs, and may prevent straying.
There are also various health benefits such as preventing phantom pregnancies, uterine infections (pyometra), ovarian/uterine and testicular tumours, and can avert mammary cancer and prostate problems from developing.
It is encouraged to neuter cats at four months old. Dogs can be castrated/spayed from six months old; speak to your vet about neutering your dog and the timing of the operation as this can vary.
DID YOU KNOW?
Some entire male cats/dogs only have one testicle, and are known as cryptorchid . If this is the case, it’s important to speak to your vet about castration as they are more likely to develop other problems such as testicular tumours.