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Pethood or Parenthood?

Pethood is a way of life dogs and cats adapt to readily. Certainly it's a good life for most, with plenty of nourishing food and fresh water, a warm, dry place to sleep, medical care when needed and, of course, your affection.

Your dog or cat responds to these favors by making you and your family the center of its devotion. A well-trained canine or feline companion does its best to please you, and willingly accepts certain rules of "socialization." Your dog learns to accept house-breaking and not to chew up your socks. Your cat learns not to climb on the draperies or claw the furniture. But learning to control their mating instincts is something pets cannot do.

Aside from the possibilities of an unwanted pregnancy and litter, there are several aspects of a dog's or cat's natural reproductive processes and mating instincts which interfere with the joys of pethood for both pet and owner. For example, you may have already endured the nervous pacing and plaintive meowing of a female cat "in heat." Perhaps you' ve had to remove blood stains from your carpet or cope with unwelcome males during your female pet's "heat" periods. Or, is your tomcat one of the many that has developed the annoying habit of spraying foul-smelling urine on furniture and draperies to "stake out his territory"

Your male pet's desire for romance may make him break loose and get into trouble. Even if these problems are under control, your pet may be frustrated if you block its mating instincts.

Fortunately, most of these problems and frustrations, along with the possibility of unwanted litters, can be eliminated by surgically removing certain reproductive organs. The result - a happier, healthier pethood for your dog or cat and an easier life for you. But your pet can't decide to have an operation. You must choose. 

The transition from pethood to parenthood brings about a new way of life for most dogs and cats. In spite of what many people think, motherhood does not "round out" a pet's personality. As a mother, your pet must divide her affection between you and her litter. This may make her irritable and hard to get along with. And parenthood for your pet really means parenthood for you, too. You must share the burden of caring for the newcomers, particularly if they become ill or have other problems their mother can't cope with.

More importantly, you must find a good home for each new kitten or pup. No one really knows how many dogs and cats are born in the Bahamas each year, but the numbers are staggering, and we do know that there is a total of well over 100,000 dogs and cats. Since there are less than forty thousand households in New Providence, increasing numbers of these animals are finding themselves homeless. Even if you find someone to adopt each of your pet's offspring, every pup or kitten you place eliminates a potential home for some other animal.

Most animal shelters are overflowing with unwanted cats and dogs. Usually these agencies do well to find a home for 1 or 2 out of 10. The thousands that cannot be placed in homes must be humanely killed. The fate of those that don't find their way to shelters is even more unpleasant. Left to fend for themselves, many abandoned animals die of starvation and disease. Others are killed by automobiles or poison, or injured by wild animals.

Your pet's search for parenthood could lead to similar circumstances. On the loose, it may eat garbage or drink contaminated water. Courting males - particularly tomcats- often fight and injure each other. Females that become pregnant may have to endure a difficult delivery or birth complication without assistance. So make a good choice, for a happier, healthier pet: choose pethood and not parenthood. You?ll be glad you did, for both your sakes.

* Information courtesy of AVMA

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