Once upon a time, I had a major love affair. He was beautiful, sensitive, and completely in love with me. He was my everywhere companion, my confidant. And then he left me.
And I’m 100% certain that had I neutered him, he would still be with me today. Sob.
When I was in my early 20’s, my room-mate Lisa came home one night with a too-heart-wrenching-to not-do-anything-about-it tale. Well actually, it was about 3 tails: a mommy cat and her two boy kittens.
Lisa had visited our nearby SPCA, and had seen a mother with 2 kittens – and then watched as the mother and one kitten were removed from their cage. The second kitten, teensy and mewing, was left in his cage alone. Lisa later discovered that the mom and son had been adopted, and the family was split. Room-mate: heartsick but allergic to cats, me:already planning the adoption process (and a move).
The next day I adopted a tiny ball of skin and bones – literally. He was absolutely the size of my hand, with still-blue eyes and bones protruding from his fur. He was, it seemed, way too young to be separated from his mother. I took him home, sat on the floor, and placed him on the couch in front of me. He looked at me, eyes glazed over, and he purred; I put my nose to his sweet wee one, he dragged his mouth across my cheek. Love at first site. Then he sneezed – and sneezed, and sneezed and sneezed. And started shaking. AND wouldn’t eat, to boot. My gorgeous new baby was sick!
Since the SPCA offered vet services, I was able to my bring “Mowgli” in to be seen right away (he was so scraggly that the vet thought he was a puppy!). Turned out my little love-muffin had a serious viral infection, which was blocking his ability to smell his food. If he couldn’t smell it, he wouldn’t eat it! I worried instantly like a new mom, desperate to make him well.
The vet prescribed antibiotics, kitten milk replacer (yes, there is such a thing ) for both comfort and nutrients (he’d lick it off my fingers), and taught me how to encourage my kitten to eat solids: swipe a little canned food onto his nose, and let him lick it off. Eating would (and did) ensue. Phew!
My little one grew from a scrawny almost unrecognizable creature (the SPCA vet had asked the name of my “puppy”!), to a velvety milk-chocolate brown, champagne-tufted, golden-eyed – and dare I say, sexy? Yes, he was sexy – cat.
Oy, and this cat. He slept with me, curled into my stomach at night, under the covers (when he’d get hot he’d slither up to my pillow, head next to mine and body still under cover) ate with me, climbed onto my shoulders and rode around with me. His eyes glazed over when he lay over my lap, and he gave me love “chews” on my chin while he purred. We adored each other.
Too soon he became a teenager. His behavior changed. He started bouncing around the house, clawing the carpet at 3 am to be let outside. I found my favorite purse on the floor of my closet, reeking like male cat pee.
And then he started coming home late, with canned salmon on his mouth. I thought I would die, but I put up with it. He was my baby boy. And even though he was needing to find his independence, he’d still come home to sleep and eat with me. After all, I was his momma.
Sadly, this story has a rather bittersweet ending.
We had been through so much together, from surviving illness to growing pains. Still, I hadn’t neutered him, and after about 1 1/2 years of total kitty-love bliss, Mowgli left me. I’ll never forget the last time I saw him: one night past midnight, he’d been yowling to get out. Out he went, and he stopped at the foot of the stairs to turn to me and sit. He looked at me, long and hard. I looked back. Then I went inside.
I never saw him again.
Pros of Neutering Your Cat or Dog
An un-neutered cat or dog can exhibit all sorts of behavioral and physical issues, all of which neutering can radically mitigate. While the camps to neuter/spay and not to are both heavily armed, I believe the pros far outweigh the cons. Aside from the fact that it helps keep animal population under control, here are some great reasons why:
Ask your vet about spaying or neutering your cat (or dog!) if you haven’t already. If you’re worried about the cost of spaying or neutering your kitten, the ASPCA has a great database of low cost clinics.
When Mowgli disappeared, we’d been living near the woods. While I looked for him tirelessly, any number of things could have happened: he might have been hit by a car and injured, or eaten by a raccoon or coyote. Someone could have stolen him (I mentioned he was gorgeous, right?).
I’m so certain that had I neutered my Mowgli, we’d have had a long, happy life together. That needing to get out in the middle of the night craziness wouldn’t have happened, his visiting other homes and partaking in their handouts might have been avoided. I probably would have needed a bigger bed – and an understanding boyfriend. I would happily have opened about a trillion cans of salmon.
Please, neuter/spay your pet.