Thursday, April 10, 2014

Why I Advocate Pet Neutering

Yoyo sleeping on my foot

We just had our newly adopted cat friend, Yoyo, neutered today.  He isn't weak by any means; he's still as energetic as when he arrived at our house but the vet says we need to give him his antibiotics regularly so his wound doesn't get infected.

Let me tell you, my dear friends and Facebook acquaintances, administering medicine to an adolescent cat is PAINFUL!  Literally!  I've gone through this a few times before and, this morning while preparing to take him to his doctor, I already knew I would be getting scratches on my arms by the end of the day.

However, why did I choose to go through with it?  Some may ask why I had to have him neutered knowing I would put up with such a hassle afterwards.  You see, I put up with it because I love this cat and I love all animals.  We had him neutered not because we deliberately wanted to cause him pain or sadistically take away his right to reproduce but because we don't want to see any more stray domestic animals not having homes.

It's because of humanity's obsession with aesthetics and the utility of certain "pure" domestic animal breeds that many such intended-to-be-pet creatures suffer.  When you get your pure breed German Shepherds or Labs from the pet store, don't think for a second that all their siblings are as lucky as they are.  It's likely they never lived past their 7th month of life and ended up in the puppy mill's backyard mass grave.

Yoyo is a moggie.  We don't know his lineage and neither do we care.  What matters is he's with us and we are tasked with caring for him.  He is the fourth cat friend currently living in the house.  He was left to our care by American relief workers who rescued him as a stray kitten walking alone, looking famished and thirsty.  Like many cats, he was likely abandoned by his previous owners.  Fortunately, he was spotted by kind-hearted people and taken in as a friend.  The oldest among our cats is Mozart, who was given to us by a relative who didn't neuter a female feline and was left stumped when she gave birth to three kittens.  The second arrival is Jemima who just turned up as a kitten one day begging for food.  The third, the youngest one, is Tugger who, like Jemima, also just turned up one night meowing and begging for food and water--possibly milk from his mother because he was so little.  He had a sister whom we also fed and called our own but unfortunately rose to the Heaviside Layer early due to an unknown disease.

Oh, in case you all start thinking I'm exclusively a cat person, you're wrong.  We have two dogs coexisting with the cats in the same house.  Both were also given to us after the owners ran out of ideas.

You might think, "Well, animals don't need to be neutered because there are people like you who would take them in."  If that is so, then why are there stray cats and dogs all over the world?  Tell me that the next time we're both taking a hike somewhere and we pass a kitten or puppy lying lifeless on the pavement with their innards sprayed everywhere.

You see, I've seen way too many skinny and bony stray kittens begging for food and rummaging dumpsters and bins for whatever they could eat just to delay death even for a day.  I've seen sickly cats lying barely alive on the grey gutters of the outskirts of bustling metropolitan areas like Cebu and Manila.  I've been in way too many coastal clean-up activities where I would chance upon innocent-looking rubbish bags and open them to find dead puppies likely put there by their mothers' owners and thrown into the open sea.

Domestic animals are not like wild animals who are, by nature's design, readily capable of surviving without the help of human beings.  They are products of a long domestication process that has made them suitable for cohabitation with people.  Domestic dogs and cats, unlike their wild cousins, leopards and wolves and what not, are not fit to live in the wild and hunt on their own.  Humanity has tamed them and should therefore be responsible for their welfare.  They should thrive in loving human homes, where they are cared and provided for, or they shouldn't be born.  It is, therefore, a strong offence against domestic animals to allow them to keep breeding without ascertaining good homes for each and every one of them.  Quality of life is of utmost importance.

Lecture me about a domestic animal's right to freely reproduce only if you can assure me that I will never again have to see feral and stray domestic cats and dogs.  Tell me how bad I am for spaying my animal friends and removing their right to propagate life only if you are a vegetarian and don't participate in the global tradition of animal cruelty.

Let me share a simple truth that I came across as a child.  The Little Prince in Antoine de Saint-Exupery's book once said, "You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed."  Yes, their offspring, too.

Yoyo sleeping in my suitcase

Jemima resting on a bag

Tugger (right) and his sister who didn't make it


Janggo asleep after playing at the beach

No photos of our most senior cat, Mozart, and our other dog, Orion.