Will Cats Become Extinct If We Spay/neuter All Of Them?

Why we should all spay and neuter our cats

Cat lovers that become involved with rescue and feral care are adamant supporters of spay and neuter, including TNR (trap-neuter-release) programs for feral cats. Admittedly, threads where someone excitedly shares the news about his or her cat giving birth make us cringe

A world without cats and kittens? That would be horrible!

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But is that even a possibility?

Let's look at the numbers.

How many cats are there in the world?

Experts estimate that there are about 90 million pet cats in the USA. In addition to that, experts estimate that there are 50-70 million feral cats living on the streets of the US. That's an estimate of about 150 million cats in the US alone. Other areas in the world have an even bigger problem of feral cats. In Australia, estimates run to 2.7 million pet cats and no fewer than 18 million feral cats! The IFHA (the organization representing the European Animal Health Industry) estimates that there are 66 million pet cats in Europe. Many of the warmer European countries such as Greece, Italy and Spain also have very large populations of feral cats.

How many cats are there in the world today? Nobody knows for sure, but estimates point to an overall number of at least half a billion.

That is a LOT of cats.

How fast can cats reproduce?

If we ever reach the point where cats become "almost extinct" and need to start breeding cats again, how fast can we bring cats back from "the brink of extinction"? Let's assume that out of the 500 million cats currently living on the planet, we manage to miraculously sterilize 99% of all cats. That would leave us with 50,000 cats for our re-population program. That's 25,000 initial breeding cats.

A female cat can start breeding as young as 4-6 months of age. She will on average have two litters every year. Cats usually have 2-5 kittens per litter. Not all of the kittens survive, but it's safe to estimate that a well-cared-for female cat can raise at least six kittens every year.

A pair of cats can produce more than 2 million cats in 8 years!

If you think that sounds like a lot, you're right. But it's just simple mathematics, explained in this brochure by SpayUSA.

25,000 pairs can restore the world population back to where it's at now within a few years. Even with 99% of the cat population gone, cats are prolific enough to recover in numbers very fast.

I think it's safe to say that as long as there are humans on the face of the planet, there will be cats. There's no way spaying and neutering can ever change that. Ever. Even if we reached the point where we could spay and neuter 99% of all cats, domestic and ferals, around the world, we still wouldn't have a problem.

Are we close to that point?

Unfortunately no.

Look at the stats for the US: 91% of all pet cats are spayed or neutered. Sounds like a lot? Well, only 10% of feral and stray cats that come into shelters are neutered. Which still leaves us with tens of millions of cats that are not fixed. In the US alone.

Remember just how fast cats reproduce? That's literally tens and possibly hundreds of millions of kittens born in the USA alone each year. By comparison, only 100,000 new human babies are born every year. There are simply not enough good homes for the huge cat surplus.

What happens to these cats? The very lucky ones find homes. 3.4 million others get to shelters every year and they are very lucky as well. Of those, 1.3 million find homes. 1.2 million are euthanized.

1.2 million cats and kittens are euthanized in the US every year.

And yes, even they are still luckier than others.

They're lucky because in the same year, tens of millions of other cats died on the streets. They died of hunger, thirst, disease, extreme temperatures, predators, car accidents and humans hunting them down. These deaths were far less peaceful than any form of euthanasia.

Tens of millions of other cats survived to make it through another year of desperately looking for food and shelter.

What's the bottom line?

It's simple.

Spay and neuter your cats. All of them.

If you feed a cat, it's your responsibility to get that cat fixed. Do not add to the cat overpopulation crisis. Be a responsible cat owner and make sure your own cats do not bring new kittens into the world. It's the least we can do to fight this flood of misery.

And don't worry about cats becoming extinct. If you feel that someone you know can provide a good home for a cat, there will be dozens of applicants for the spot. If ever you hear of anyone who can't find a cat to adopt into a good home, let us know. Until then make sure you spay and neuter your cats. If you don't, you'll become morally responsible for adding to the death and misery of millions of cats around you.

Further reading : spay-and-neuter

17 comments on “Will Cats Become Extinct If We Spay/neuter All Of Them?

Anne Jones December 12, 2020
Totally against spaying pet cats without letting them having at least one or two litters and giving the kittens for adoption. Otherwise, sooner or later cats will become extinct and/or a luxury product. Neutering feral cats is totally out of the question. That would lead to cats mass extinction and an uncontrolled increase in the rat population.
    Lucia Flamini January 17, 2021
    are you serious? please educate yourself by reading from routable sources of information before writing such nonsense
      Mansour March 23, 2021
      You are the one that should educate yourself, spaying strays is a good idea, I feel like getting a feline cat a partner is a better idea tbh
    Mansour March 23, 2021
    Totally agree 7 billion people in the world we can just find a cat a partner then give them away Neutering cats is a good idea neutering all of them is crazy and dangerous
Tammy July 20, 2020
Agreed but shelters are too uptight about adopting out pets. I saw a certain cat on a website for over a year, when I asked if the fee could be reduced from $200, they said no. A local shelter refused to allow me to adopt a cat because I was honest enought to admit to having to surrender a cat (to a friend) in the past. If shelters would lighten up a bit, there wouldn't be such a problem with over crowding and these animals could find homes.
catspaw66 June 4, 2019
Galixy said:
Spaying is cruel but sometimes you have to do it but how bout you get spayed or neutered and see how it feels
NOT spaying is the cruel act.
lilin September 14, 2017
JustAMaleThatLovesCats said:
Should I spay/neuter an indoor cat?
Yes, for two reasons. One is that inact middle aged cats have enormously high rates of reproductive cancer and infected uteruses. In the wild, they'd never live more than 7 or 8 years, but our indoor kitties live twice that long. So, their bodies don't really account for this extra lifespan, and their reproductive organs break down and become very troublesome and unhealthy in what we consider middle age. Secondly, intact cats are miserable when they're in heat and you keep them from mating. Females will cry and scream, throw themselves at your door, etc. Males will mark everything, attack other cats, etc. It makes them crazy to be stopped from doing their mating thing, and it'll make you crazy too. Neutering solves both of these problems.
tarasgirl06 August 25, 2017
rascalshadownj2 said:
I'm all for spaying and neutering cats And dogs. This was a good article! I think everyone should read this. I agree about  what they said about cats Not becoming extinct. I don't think there would be any possibility of cats becoming extinct. There will always be a few cats that will be around to breed more cats. Same with all animals who have large litters, like rabbits, and other rodents. Considering there are millions not to mention Billions of cats, it would be impossible to spay and neuter that many cats. Thanks for posting this article. :-)
As long as cats are purpose-bred by those who think, for whatever reason, that this is a good thing to do to maintain "breed standards", there will absolutely be cats. And wouldn't it be amazing if all cats were as sought after and treasured as "purebred" cats?
JustAMaleThatLovesCats August 25, 2017
Should I spay/neuter an indoor cat?
tarasgirl06 June 25, 2017
HUGE PROPS for this article, which I wish everyone would read and take to heart. It eloquently states what I have spent most of my adult life advocating for, for the reasons listed in the article. PLEASE. PEOPLE. NO EXCEPTIONS. SPAY & NEUTER. For CATS' sake. And isn't CATS why we're all here? While ONE cat loses his or her life because there is no loving permanent home for him or her, my heart breaks, and I am far from alone in this. PLEASE. PUT CATS FIRST.
Anne August 23, 2016
@Zelskid There's a link there to the SpayUSA brochure that explains the maths. Exponential growth is a formidable thing. Of course, in reality, most of the cats die and don't keep on reproducing. These cruel deaths are what we need to prevent by spaying and neutering.
kittens mom August 19, 2016
S/N is the best option for almost all pet owners. True breeders produce for a waiting list and are seldom advertising anything but their cattery.  The cat population needs to drop and when if it ever reaches a point where cats truly declining in population numbers healthy cats with good genetics can be selected to breed. The massive feral population is a man made disaster. Right now the focus should be on population control. This isn't about eradication.
tarasgirl06 August 15, 2016
You are so correct.  No excuse could possibly negate the suffering and death of millions of sweet cats annually.  It is the caring thing to do to spay and neuter (just as it is to forego adding to the human overpopulation crisis; with close to 7 1/2 BILLION people crowding our earth, driving species to extinction, polluting all infrastructure, and consuming finite resources like there's no tomorrow, it is the responsible and caring thing to do to realize that no one is so amazing that their progeny must be born! and that, if you care at all about animals, humans including the children already here, the planet and/or even just yourself, you'll make the caring decision not to add to the misery.  If you absolutely must procreate, please keep it down to 1 or at most, 2.  Thank you.)
catluvr321 August 11, 2016
Go spraying and neuturing!
rascalshadownj2 August 10, 2016
Hey foxxycat, Just saw your comment. I agree. That's a good point about using those birth control medicines for female cats. That would be cheaper than the operation itself. To spay a female costs more than neutering the male. The females have more reproductive organs to remove than the males. It's a more involved operation. But vets do it all the time. I think another thing that would help with people who can't afford to have their pets spayed or neutered, would be if once a year, all the vets have a free spay and neuter day and promote it on TV, in the paper, social media, etc. Then maybe more people would bring their pets in and get them fixed. I also agree that if all these people have money for gas for their fancy cars, IPhones, IPods, laptops, etc. then they can get their pets spayed and neutered. It's all about being Responsible! You're right. There are always Irresponsible people in the world. Just like you said, look at all the young teenage girls who get pregnant out of wedlock and have to go on welfare to help take care of their children despite the fact that they have access to birth control pills. It's really crazy! Not to mention, they are always telling young people Not to get pregnant, until you can afford to take care of your babies. But they get pregnant anyway. So much for being responsible. Duh! If you have cats and dogs (and by the way, dogs have larger litters than cats, they have 12 to 16 puppies a month.) and they haven't been spayed or neutered, keep them indoors or in a pen until you can save up enough money to get them fixed. Don't let them run all over the neighborhood getting pregnant, or getting other female cats and dogs pregnant. You're right too, that it's sad that not all shelters are No Kill shelters. Many animals get euthanized all the time. Personally I think all shelters could be No Kill. I read where a shelter in Florida upgraded their shelter, and became a No Kill shelter, and it became more popular, and they had better living spaces for their animals. It was a nice shelter. Maybe some day all shelters will be No Kill. That would be nice.  And you're right about being a foster parent. That helps shelters a lot too. But mostly it's all about people being More Responsible! That will help a great deal! Please Be More Responsible!
foxxycat August 10, 2016
I too wondered about this. If we fix em all we will not have any-BUT that was until I spent days on Facebook looking over all the ads for people needing homes for all the unwanted born animals that could have been spayed. My heart aches for the 12 oclock noontime when I know NYC puts to sleep those on the deathrow list. Every night a list of cats gets sent out. some nights there are over 30 cats. THIRTY CATS IN ONE DAY PTS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!   That's just cruel and not right. So yes I agree spueter them all. We will always have irresponsible pet parents just as we have irresponsible teenagers and young adults getting pregnant despite widespread access to birthcontrol.   did you know they do have birthcontrol for cats? Its got a mixed view but the way I look at it=if you don't have access to reduced cost spay then this medicine you would need to give I believe is daily or once a week could help stop more kittens from being born until you save money to spay.   I know this will make some folks angry but seriously=if you have money for gas in your car to get to work and lunch money for school lunches vs making sandwiches-then you can save the money to fix your cats. Kittens are expensive. Dieing kittens will be very traumatizing for your kids to watch. So save your kids from seeing the kittens die from illnesses as we know there are often kittens who wont make it. I only hope this helps people reach out to others asking for help and info to get their females spayed and males neutered. We don't need more animals in this world.   We have shelters putting x amount to sleep every day at noontime. It has got to be hard on the workers to do this. But what can we do? no fosters. No money for food. no money to pay for vet care for the illnesses that often plague the kittens and cats. The only humane thing is euthanasia. But after awhile this takes a toll on our animal lovers souls. We can only deal with so much death.   please SPAY! PLEASE FOSTER! PLEASE END THIS! 
rascalshadownj2 August 10, 2016
I'm all for spaying and neutering cats And dogs. This was a good article! I think everyone should read this. I agree about  what they said about cats Not becoming extinct. I don't think there would be any possibility of cats becoming extinct. There will always be a few cats that will be around to breed more cats. Same with all animals who have large litters, like rabbits, and other rodents. Considering there are millions not to mention Billions of cats, it would be impossible to spay and neuter that many cats. Thanks for posting this article. :-)

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