Usually it takes more than a visit to Planned Parenthood to keep your cat from having free-wheeling unprotected sex. The surgical procedure that permanently alters your kitty is the choice that most people make, but sometimes spaying isn't possible. It's good to know that, when necessary, there are alternative options.
Putting your kitty on "the pill" is an easy solution if she can't be spayed due to a medical condition or if you just want to leave the breeding option open for later in her life. Progestin pills will stop the heat cycle for your cat, but the trick is to give her the pills at a certain time during her cycle. Androgen drugs are available, too, and must be started 30 days before the heat cycle. Your vet can prescribe the pills and help you determine when to start giving them to your cat.
If you feel like you're doing good to remember to take your own medications, let alone having to remember specific times to supply birth-control pills to your cat -- not to mention the difficulty that involves -- you might want to opt for an injection that will keep her from ovulating. The synthetic hormone in these shots is what does the trick by conning your kitty's system into holding onto its eggs and not releasing them for fertilization.
There's not a lot of information on the use of birth-control implants in cats, but it may soon become more than just a possibility. Dr. Dawn Ruben reports on Pet Place.com that a birth-control implant that has been successfully used in humans is now being tested in cats. So far, the tests have been promising by effectively suppressing heat cycles for felines. Considering these implants can work for up to five years, you may only have to have your cat treated two or three times in her life to keep her kitten-free.
If you decide to go with a birth-control pill or shot for your kitty, be aware there may be a price to pay introducing hormones and medications into her system. Pills and injections can cause side effects like diabetes, liver disease, mammary gland cancer and infections, and cancer of the uterus. Less serious side effects of birth control drugs include hair loss and weight gain due to lower energy levels and increased appetite.
The Old-Fashioned Way
There is no medication that a male cat can be given that will act as a contraceptive, so short of convincing any male suitors to wear a condom, spaying your female is the most effective feline contraception, provided there are no medical reasons not to fix her. You won't have to remember to give pills or take her into the vet repeatedly for injections or implants, and you'll reduce her chances of having problems with her reproductive organs.
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