Spaying and neutering pets helps to prevent unwanted litters of puppies or kittens, but surgical alteration of a pet is often expensive for the owner and painful for the pet. Research indicates there may be a less expensive option that provides birth control for pets. The procedure requires a single injection in the pet’s hip.Spaying is removing the ovaries, fallopian tubes and uterus from a female pet, while neutering is removing the testicles. The use of anesthesia helps to prevent pain during the actual procedure, but as with any surgery, the pet can experience post-operative pain. Both procedures provide birth control and help improve the quality of life for the pet and owner.
The reproductive systems of all vertebrates requires gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH). Without this hormone, neither eggs or sperm reach maturity, so the animal cannot reproduce. The injection contains an antibody containing a virus that blocks the hormone’s production, rendering the animal sterile. Injecting it into the hip muscle causes the muscle to continue producing the antibody for the life of the animal.
One possible use of sterilization by injection is in programs to spay or neuter feral animals. While there are current programs that offer the traditional surgical sterilization, funding often limits the number of animals receiving treatment, making it difficult to control the population of animals that must fend for themselves without a home.
As of 2016, the study is limited to mice, but the Cincinnati Zoo is working on a pilot program with female cats. The outcomes of the program could be helpful in developing future programs with feral animals and pets. It may also offer a potential for expanding the use of the injection for human birth control.
Spaying or neutering your pet is just one part of responsible pet ownership. Bringing a new cat home is a commitment that can last 15 to 20 years. Learn more about how to find a cat for your family here.
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