It has been said that it is bad to not have one’s domestic critters rendered nonreproductive. The reason usually given is that (let’s use cats as the example) if you don’t have your cat neutered or spayed and it has the opportunity to get out and about, you will have contributed to the birth of a litter of unwanted kittens a short time later. And that there’s already a burgeoning population of feral cats born in this fashion, and not enough food to go around for them, so the unwanted kittens to whose birth you would contribute through your negligence are most likely going to die of starvation.
I suppose there are ancillary reasons given for neutering and spaying: fewer yowling cats, fewer fighting cats, a lower incidence of cat-borne diseases (to whatever extent that’s a public health risk?), fewer cat-kills of birds chipmunks mousies and other critters that cats may prey upon (to whatever extent that’s a tragedy?), a lower incidence of cat-pee smells coming from the apartments of tomcat owners, etc… but those are seldom touted as reasons for why having one’s kitties fixed ought to be considered a moral imperative, yes?
MM-kay, clear me up on some stuff. Explain to me how the feral-cat situation is, or would be, different from the situation faced by any species of critter facing normal population pressures. Let’s say Norway rats. If there’s sufficient food supply, they reproduce and the baby rats survive rather than starve and, not being neutered or spayed, reproduce in turn, creating a Norway rat population explosion until equilibrium is achieved. And equilibrium is achieved when the food supply is insufficient to support continued population explosion, yes? Right? (It could also be achieved by other constraints, I suppose…diseases that kill rats, predators that are very successful at killing rats, etc, but if nothing else impedes population growth, food supply eventually will, yes?)
Now, we admittedly do not tend to like the Norway rat much. Decidedly uncute they are, and they bite, and carry diseases we’re susceptible to, and they make a mess of our pantries if they get in. So having the rat population limited by the rat starvation rate may only bother us to the extent that we’d rather it were limited by the rate by which we successfully poison them, whereas the prospect of zillions of starving baby kittens saddens us. But from the respective positions of the cats and the rats, is the situaton roughly identical? Am I incorrect in drawing this parallel due to something important I’ve missed?
The Norway Rat, of course, is considered to be able to survive on its own, without our protection and support (all too well, in many folks’ opinions), whereas some people would claim that the common domestic kitty cat is not equipped to do so. I’m not sure this is true, at least not in the sense that it’s probably true for great danes and quarter horses (and those feral cats are staying alive in large numbers even if they are also starving as kittens in large numbers), but let’s consider that. If true, it means the survival opportunities for the ferally born kitten are downright lousy, and the lifespan of the feral cat quite short, yes? If slightly less true, it means more kittens survive to reproduce until population pressures versus food supply reach equilibrium at a higher feral-kitty population than the equilibrium point would have been, yes? If only moderately true, yet more survivors, yet a higher kitty-population before equilibrium? If not true at all, yet more, but again equilibrium? So, aside from us feeling sadder about the poor ferally-born kitties who are so ill-equipped to face life without a human family to take care of them, are they actually facing something categorically different from the situation faced by other species, which vary according to how well-equipped they are to survive? (The bunny rabbit having a pretty definite edge on the California Condor there)
Or is there a mathematically different situation going if & when zillions of people, keeping zillions of kitty cats fed and healthy to the age of reproductive potential, and then letting them breed unchecked? Is it somehow the case that when we don’t neuter/spay our kitty cats, unwanted kittens die at a significantly higher percent of the total kitten birthrate than would be the case if they were a wild species whose population were limited by the food-supply equilibrium thingie? And if that’s the deal, can you hold my hand and walk me through the explanation until I get it?