Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Veterinary attitudes towards pre-pubertal gonadectomy of cats: A comparison of samples from New Zealand, Australia and the United Kingdom.

The owned cat population is continuing to increase as are the number of free-living cats and those relinquished at welfare centres. 

Sterilisation is perhaps the most effective and humane population management tool and the sooner it is implemented the less likely accidental pregnancies are. As such, veterinarians (as well as owners) are pivotal in ensuring that pre-pubertal sterilisation (PPS) takes place. Current literature suggests that PPS is more likely to be considered for cats that are in welfare centres and less so for companion cats. However, accidental pregnancies are likely and are not contingent upon ownership status.

This research sought to establish how practitioners view PPS. It demonstrated that veterinarians who provide welfare centre/shelter services perform PPS at an earlier age. Likewise, veterinarians in New Zealand and Australia consider PPS more acceptable and implement it at an earlier age than veterinarians in the UK. We propose that this may have three core causes:
1) That cats are considered more ecologically destructive in NZ and Australia and this is reflected in wider veterinary and public opinion
2) That the cat specific guidelines for sterilsation, endorsed by the Veterinary Associations in these three countries, differ and therefore drive this difference
3) The sampling method may have resulted in the differences observed.

We conclude that the non-acceptance of PPS by practitioners (and owners who are not addressed in this work) leaves a significant window of opportunity for unwanted pregnancies to occur perpetuating the issues surrounding the free-roaming and unwanted cat populations. 

The full article by Mark Farnworth, a PhD student associated with JMICAWE and Unitec NZ Institute of Technology is in the New Zealand Veterinary Journal, 11 October 2012.

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