The Feline Fix by Five initiative is a program of Marian’s Dream.
THE MISSION OF MARIAN’S DREAM
Marian’s Dream has worked for over 30 years supporting animal welfare groups and initiatives. Cats have always held a special place in our organization. Today, cats face more opposition than they did a decade ago—and that’s why they are getting our full attention.
The Feline Fix by Five Awareness Campaign is designed to help veterinarians educate their clients on the medical, behavioral and community benefits of early spay/neuter.
What Feline Fix by Five is Not:
A pediatric spay/neuter program
A low income spay/neuter program
A sheltering program
A rescue program
A program for feral cats
A program for Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR)
Fix by Five Saves Lives…
“Historically, many cat owners have been puzzled about when cats should be spayed/neutered. Veterinary organizations, such as the American Veterinary Medical Association, the American Animal Hospital Association, the Association of Feline Practitioners, and the Association of Shelter Veterinarians are trying to clear up the confusion. Since cats can get pregnant at five months of age, spay/neuter by five months of age prevents the birth of unwanted litters of kittens, thereby reducing relinquishment of kittens to animal shelters.”
— Phil Bushby, DVM, MS, DACVS
Feline Fix by Five Veterinary Consultant
Traditionally, recommendations as to when ‘pet parents’ should have their pets spayed or neutered have been arbitrary and inconsistent. A study by IPSOS Marketing for PetSmart Charities in 2009, repeated in 2011, found that three out of four people either did not know when to “fix” their pets - or thought it was six to nine months or later.
Meanwhile, millions and millions of unplanned, unwanted kittens were being born only to be taken to overcrowded shelters or abandoned. While a renewed conversation about the best age to spay or neuter certain large-breed dogs is emerging, current evidence does not support an increased risk for cats of complications or long-term adverse health effects with pediatric (6-14 weeks) or juvenile (>16 weeks) sterilization. Also, the numbers of surplus dogs were gradually declining, but the numbers of unwanted, homeless cats were still in the multi-millions. It was time to focus on the felines.
This need was addressed in January of 2016, when a group of professionals met at the North American Veterinary Conference's annual meeting. The meeting was sponsored by Marian's Dream; and Joan Miller, Chair of the Cat Fanciers’ Education and Outreach Committee, invited a dozen prominent veterinarians met to consider the idea of possible recommendations for the optimal age to sterilize cats. Current scientific evidence regarding medical and behavioral effects and community outcomes were discussed, as well as short and long-term potential risk factors. The idea of recommending that practitioners routinely schedule the surgery at the end of the kitten vaccination series, typically between four and five months of age, would provide a consistent message that could increase veterinary visits and spay/neuter compliance while reducing the risk of pet relinquishment and unwanted offspring.
Over the following 18 months, at board meetings of the American Animal Hospital Association, the American Association of Feline Practitioners, the American Veterinary Medical Association as well as The Association of Shelter Veterinarians, The Catalyst Council, the Cat Fanciers’ Association, the Winn Feline Foundation and International Cat Association, the consensus was endorsed.
Today, this ‘pet project’ (Feline Fix by Five) is poised to undertake a massive public awareness campaign. The recommendation of sterilization of cats by five months of age will prevent enormous suffering because millions of unwanted kittens will not be born to a very uncertain fate. Those cats already in shelters will have a better chance of adoption, kittens in homes will be less likely to be relinquished and the incidence of mammary gland cancer will, if the program is successful, decrease further.