Many Cat Diseases Can Be Prevented By Spaying and Neutering Your Cat
Feline Infectious Peritonitis
FIP is caused by a virus that can affect all organs in the body. This disease has no cure and is ultimately fatal. Most cases of FIP occur in multi-cat households and in catteries. It stands to reason that feral cat colonies would also be more susceptible to this disease. Control of cat colonies through spaying and neutering may help to decrease the spread of this disease.
Feline Leukemia Virus
Felv is spread mainly through saliva from cat to cat after prolonged, intimate contact such as grooming or fighting. It can also be spread to kittens before birth and through the mother’s milk after birth. Felv decreases a cat’s immune system and makes them more susceptible to respiratory infections, skin infections, and other illnesses. These secondary diseases can often result in the death of the cat. Most infected cats do not live more than three years after being diagnosed with the disease. Many infected cats are euthanized each year.
Feline Immunodeficiency Virus
FIV is another potentially fatal virus that attacks the immune system and can result in deadly secondary infections. This virus is found in the saliva of an infected cat and is spread mainly through bite wounds. It takes only one bite to spread the disease. Bite wounds are very common among male cats that have not been neutered. Although not as common as, FIV may also be spread from a mother to her kittens before birth orthrough her milk.
Humans can become infected with toxoplasmosis if they are exposed to infected cat feces. Stray cats and outdoor cats that hunt are more likely to have this disease. If a stray cat that is shedding the disease defecates in an area where a human does yard work or gardening, then that person may be exposed. Children may also become exposed by cats defecating in sand boxes. An indoor / outdoor cat may be exposed to feces outside, contract the disease, shed it in the litter box, and expose the owner when the litter box is cleaned. Toxoplasmosis is most severe in people who have compromised immune systems, such as those with AIDS or those having chemotherapy. It can affect any organ or system in the body. Toxoplasmosis may also cause birth defects if a woman is exposed during pregnancy. Controlling the stray cat population by spaying and neutering could help control the spread of this disease.
Pyometra described in its simplest terms is a uterus full of pus. Pyometra is caused by a bacterial infection. Infection of the uterus becomes more and more likely as each heat cycle goes by. Pyometra is very serious and can be fatal. Many dogs and cats die from septicemia when the bacteria from the uterus enters the blood stream. Once an animal is diagnosed and treated for pyometra, she will either have to be spayed or bred or else the infection will return after her next heat cycle. Spaying is the simplest way to prevent this deadly disease.
Eclampsia is a disorder that occurs in cats and dogs as a result of calcium loss into the milk or because of low calcium in the diet. Small dogs nursing large litters are most often affected. Low levels of calcium in the blood will cause tremors, twitches, and seizures. The disorder generally occurs 2-4 weeks after the animal has given birth. Treatment requires immediate infusion of calcium into the bloodstream. Lactation, or milk production, is prevented by preventing pregnancy, which is prevented by spaying.
Dystocia is defined as abnormal or difficult labor or birth. Both cats and dogs can experience problems while giving birth. Puppies or kittens may be too large to pass through the birth canal or may become malpositioned. Not only can infection occur, but there may also be severe and painful damage to the uterus and vagina. Ectopic pregnancies are rare but do occur. These are pregnancies that occur in the abdominal cavity outside of the uterus. These can leaf to serious problems as well. If the animal is spayed, there is absolutely no worry that such things will happen.
Rabies is yet another serious virus, which can infect many animals, including humans. The majority of cases of rabies reported in the United States occur in wild animals, such as raccoons and foxes. Less that 10% occur in domesticated cats and dogs. Stray cats and dogs are more likely to become infected because they are more likely to be exposed to wild animals and are more likely not to be vaccinated. Even the Center of Disease Control in Atlanta, GA recommends as a preventative to the spread of rabies, that cats and dogs be spayed and neutered to decrease the number of unwanted animals that may not be vaccinated.
Approximately 4 people in the United States die each year from rabies. A person that is possibly exposed to rabies must undergo a series of painful and expensive shots to help prevent them from being infected. Once the symptoms of rabies become apparent, the disease is always fatal. Spaying and neutering will help decrease the number of cats and dogs that have not been properly vaccinated and will decrease the number of potential carriers of this virus.