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Did you know that two unaltered cats and their offspring can parent more than 150,000 kittens within seven years? WOW! I didn't...not until today and I was stunned! I had just never thought about it before now. And I'll just bet there are a lot of other people who, like me, had not the first clue about the staggering numbers above.

It seems to me that the real tragedy of the pet overpopulation crisis is that perfectly adoptable dogs and cats are dying simply because somebody didn't get their pet spayed or neutered. Some had a reason for not altering their pet, others just never got around to it. But whether a pet owner neglects to have a dog or cat spayed because they want her to have "just one litter" first, they thought their pet was unique in some attractive way or whether someone simply didn't want to spend the money for their pet's surgery, the end result is always the same: far too many animals for the number of available homes.

There are lots of medical and behavioral benefits to having a female dog or cat spayed:

A spayed pet is a healthier pet. They are less likely to develop mammary tumors, and they won't develop uterine cancer or other problems of the reproductive organs. There will never be a risk of pregnancy complications, either.

A spayed pet is a happier pet. A spayed female is a more relaxed and peaceful pet. Spaying nullifies a pet's desire to roam in search of a mate and eliminates the frantic pacing and crying of a cat in season.

A spayed pet helps to reduce the tragic problem of pet overpopulation. Thanks to their caring owners, spayed pets will not contribute to the pet population explosion.

Altering doesn't change the personality of your pet. Altering does not make your pet fat or lazy. Spaying or neutering won't transform your pet into a pudgy pet or corpulent kitty -- overeating and lack of exercise will.

There's absolutely no truth to the myth that it's best to let a female pet give birth to a litter before getting her spayed. In reality, it's better for an animal to be spayed before having a litter or even going in to heat.

Letting your children "experience the miracle of birth" is a horrible reason to let your animal procreate. Would you then also take them to the E room at the shelter and let them experience the tragedy of death? Animals usually choose to give birth in a safe, secluded place free from what they perceive as a threat to themselves or their offspring. Many become quite upset and nervous with an audience, screaming from the pain of labor, but not wanting to deliver in an unsafe environment. Wouldn't it be better to teach your children the importance of responsible pet ownership instead?

So, for those of you who have come to this Forum with the intention of allowing Fluffy to have "just one litter" or breeding your non-pedigreed cats to each other because "they are so beautiful", please think about the ramifications of your actions. Because you are entrusted with their care, I urge you to act responsibly.