Is "fixing" male cats or dogs a waste of money?

Particulary if they won’t start in cold weather?

But seriously. Now, don’t get me wrong. I am a big fan of responsible pet ownership. However, it seems to me that keeping old Mr Spot or Mr Fluffy from proceating by way of some medical snipping might be a poor use of money in achieving the goal reducing unwanted offspring.

Let me explain a bit. You have a population of male and female cats running around loose in an area. If you fix half the females, you’ll reduce the number of unwanted kittens by about half. Or in other words, there is a fairly strong correlation between how much you spend and the results you get. Also, this correlation isnt dependent on a high compliance rate (or is it?).

On the other hand, for the male cats, to me it appears to be the exact opposite. If you have all the females unfixed and all the males unfixed, many kittens ensue. But what if we fix half the males? Given kitty cruising habits and cats fairly high fertility, won’t the half that aren’t fixed just going to take up the slack for their sterile brothers? For that matter, I would think even a few unfixed males are going take care of any business that needs taking care off.

So, wouldn’t fixing male cats to curb kitty production only work well with really high compliance rates? Now, of course, this depends on your local cat population density/distribution, how far cats roam for booty calls, and what percentage of the females are fixed.

To me it appears to be a case of every little bit helps (but just a little).

There are other factors that need to be considered. Unfixed male cats tend to spray and mark their territory. Unfixed dogs tend to run away more often. They also won’t hump legs as much. Procreation is a big part of it, but it also has other benefits.

Yes, every little bit helps. You can only fix the dogs or cats that are under your control. Unless you intend to breed your pedigree pet, I think fixing is always a good idea - there are far too many unwanted cats and dogs in the world already.

As far as that goes its true.

But lets say you have one of those catch and release programs for feral cats in an area. Catch em, vacinate em, fix em and release em. Seems to me the money spent fixing the male cats in that scenario would be much better spent on catching more/fixing more of the females.

And yes, I agree that fixing does have other advantages.

Like you said, every little bit helps. Fixed males roaming outside are still cats. They have no urge to mate, but they still react badly towards other encroaching cats. There’s a similar plan with releasing sterilized pest insects – the goal is to create artificial “islands” of reproductive ability, so the population takes a significant hit.

I think your premise is correct. here’s a few disjoint thoughts, not an essay …

Total cost isn’t the relevant unit of measure, because in most cases individuals are paying for their pets’ fixing from their own pocket. If in some other universe only sterilized pets were permitted and breeders were 100% registered & regulated to achieve near 100% compliance in delivering only sterile pets then doing only the female ones would work as you suggest.

But once we have some number of loose critters of both sexes, then for me as an individual the best course is to sterilize my critter regardless of gender. At least that way he/she won’t be contributing to the problem. Although I agree the impact of fixing my she-critter will always be at least as large as the impact of sterilizing my he-critter.
IIRC, the surgery for female critters is more complex & expensive. I don’t recall the ratio, but if it’s double or triple to cost, and at the same time sterilising males is 1/2 to 1/3rd as effective given the local loose population size, well then we’ve got our costs & benefits in rough alignment.
The human gender politics of animal neutering is at least as important as the animal fertility-by-gender numbers. In my example above, a regulatory regime in which all female pet critters are sterilized and all males are not would probably not find much favor with human pet owners. Much noise about fairness, equiality, & the patriarchy would ensue. The science would get lost in the human political controversy.

Late add: Your comment about a catch, sterilize, & release programs for established feral populations wasn’t there when I retrieved the thread to post the above.

I agree completely that given a self-sustaining feral population, sterilizing males is almost a total waste of time & money viewed from strictly the reduce offspring headcount perspective. IMO, better (or at least more cost-effective) to catch & sterilize 1 more female than to sterilize 10 already-caught males.

Sterilizing feral males may have some second-order effects due to crowding out or less wildlife hunting behavior or other minutiae. In the case of dogs, it may reduce scary pack behavior which frightens or injures humans.

But overall I’d say that human politics is still primary. The only reason to run a catch & release program for feral induced predators like cats & dogs is because the local human population would not stand for a catch & kill program. Even though that would bring even larger dividends to the local wildlife population and also reduce long term costs of the feral population control effort.

I sense a bit of “human politics” in the wish of male posters to exempt male pets from “fixing.”

Really, the post-op cats & dogs don’t feel that they have been diminished.

But when I’m fixing my dog, my goal isn’t to affect the overall statistics of newborn dogs, it’s to stop *my *dog procreating.

  1. One female cat or dog may produce 1 - 10 offspring in a litter. Call it 5 for argument’s sake. Gestation lasts ~65 days for both In those 65 days, that one male can mate with many, many females. If he impregnates even 20 females in that time, that’s the potential for 100 more kittens or puppies out there.

  2. Neutering males is a faster, less invasive procedure, so in a given time frame with a set amount of money, you can “fix” more males.

Yes, desexing should be done in both males in females, but I think you get more bang for your buck (as it were :p) by neutering males.

That’s what I was going to add – it’s cheap to neuter males.

THAT I didn’t think of! But you’re right – each male has the potential to rapidly father large numbers of offspring, whereas the females reproduce at a more measured rate.

I’d argue the opposite.

That female humans feel that male cats should share an equal burden regarding birth control. How humans interact and mate is a tad different than how cats and dogs do it you know.

And you can always get your furry little guy some neuticals (make sure to supersize em).

All it takes is one male cat to impregnate many females (depending on population density/distributions/whatevers of course).

If you don’t get a very large fraction of the males fixed, all the money you spent getting most of males fixed will be (or could be, hence this thread) wasted when it comes to controlling the population IMO.

Perhaps its like the opposite of vacinations/herd immunity problem, in which if a significant fraction are responsible, the problem goes away.

And I’d argue that makes my point the more valid one. Actually, its that very point that made me think of this problem and start this thread in the first place.

Your whole post was pretty good, thanks for the input.

The part I quoted I think is the crux of the matter. The politics is driving a suboptimal solution to the problem. I don’t think its insurmountable however. But you do have to get folks to actually think about the problem to buy into the more scientific solution rather than the political one.

I have seen an incredible amount of naivety among dog owners and I expect cat owners too. Knowing much less about cats, I will leave them out of my post. You wouldn’t believe some of the accidents people let happen and then post questions to dog forums. The sad part is that we slaughter millions of dogs a year for lack of homes. It is true that in a group of loose running dogs, you would need to neuter all the males to end pregnancies. However, very few dogs are allowed to run loose. In many of the accidental breeding’s, it is another dog in the same household or neighbors dog. If the few males available for many females is neutered, no homeless puppies. As mentioned, neutering a male reduces its urge to go off in search of a female in season. Often a dog not allowed to run loose will escape when it scents a female in season, jumping a fence or darting through an open door. Once loose, he can be killed in traffic or get lost and never returned. Neutering reduces other problem behaviors too. There are some arguments for not neutering males, but to me they seem like excuses to allow old fashioned attitudes to prevail. After all, if you don’t want to do something, any excuse will do.

Yes, the AVMA has a financial interest in spay/neutering, but this is their policy,

I think that one reason is the people doing the altering know they will never get their hands on every stray…and that they won’t have a given stray in their control indefinitely. So since they only get their hands on some of them temporarily, altering every one that they can is the most they can do to reduce the enormous population pressure they feel themselves under. In other words, it’s an issue of trying to assert some control of an almost-out-of-control situation more than an issue of gender politics.

edit: similar to this point, my previous point assumes that there will always be uncaught, un-altered females out there for each male to impregnate if you release him un-altered.

There’s an important difference as I understand it; the idea with the pest insects is to release males that have been sterilized, not neutered. They still try to breed, they just can’t produce offspring. That means they take the place of a fertile male, and do cut down on breeding; unlike neutering feral males dogs/cats, who simply sit out mating season and are replaced by any fertile males out there.

If you want to reduce feral animal populations neutering just isn’t going to do much besides make the males you missed extra-happy. Rendering the feral males sterile while leaving their libido intact is the way to go.

Suppose spaying a female cat or dog is 20 times as effective as neutering a male animal. Nice to know. So, does that mean we shouldn’t neuter males? Of course not. That’s like saying that you shouldn’t pick up a $1 bill on the sidewalk, because it’s not a twenty.

It’s just not the case that a free-roaming fertile female cat or dog will inevitably find an intact male to inseminate her.

Yes, if every other male in the area was intact, it wouldn’t help much to neuter your male animal. But lots of males are neutered. And the more that are neutered the better off we are. Yes, it’s more helpful to sterilize a female than a male. That doesn’t mean it’s not helpful to sterilize a male.

You kinda proved LSL Guy’s point for him - immediately jumping away from considerations of efficacy to men’s supposed castration anxiety. Really, the post-op queens and bitches don’t feel it’s unfair that the males aren’t sharing the responsibility.
—Mal, owner of a fixed Staffordshire. We were never planning to breed him.

Neutered cats are still territorial, and will chase off competitors, even if they have no urge to actually mate. My cat Bandit is neutered and front declawed, and he will fuck up any stranger cat on his territory. He once ripped right through a screendoor (without any front claws) to chase off a cat on the porch.