Spaying a pregnant cat and aborting, thereby killing, her unborn kittens is a hotly debated topic in many circles. Is it ethical? Does this killing really help reduce killing? Proponents don’t like having to take lives of unborn kittens, but their position is based on pragmatic reasoning. Opponents do not like the taking of lives under any circumstances, whether born or unborn, and feel the “rationalizations” of proponents are just excuses (See the article The Great Abortion Non-Debate).
Some argue that there are already more animals than there are homes for them and bringing new kittens into the world will mean the death of cats or kittens already born and in shelters. Others answer this by saying that “with 17 million Americans looking for three million available shelter animals,” this argument doesn’t hold water. The problem does remain that shelters and rescues become overloaded while trying to make the connections with those families and the animals ready for adoption.
As an organization, MeoowzResQ’s philosophy is that we will not knowingly and intentionally abort a pregnant female except on the recommendation of our veterinarian for health reasons. That being said, we never know early in a pregnancy and have female cats spayed almost immediately upon receiving them if they meet the age or size requirements. Our veterinarians know that if it is discovered during surgery that the cat is pregnant, they are to continue with the spay. If a cat is obviously pregnant and close to term, we do not spay and abort.
After interviewing personnel at several shelters, they all seem to have similar policies. If a cat is early in her pregnancy or sick, they will spay and abort. If the cat is near full term and healthy, they will let her have the kittens and try to get a rescue to take or, if they have a foster system, send them home with one of their own fosters.
Our goal is to rescue and save lives and, for us, killing unborn kittens is not accomplishing this goal. There is no short-term solution to this issue. The answer lies in responsible pet ownership. Pet owners need to be educated about spaying and neutering before spaying a pregnant cat becomes an issue. In the meantime, we choose to continue to save lives.
Spay/neuter education is part of our mission as well as spaying and neutering all of our cats and kittens prior to adoption. To find a low-cost program near you, search the ASPCA Low-Cost Spay/Neuter Provider Database by simply entering your zip code.