veterinarian giving cat an injection study tests birth control on cats
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New Study Tests Birth Control Injections on Cats

As cute as your cat is, what you really don’t need is a litter of mini-me’s to take care of. Being a responsible cat parent means ensuring your feline friend doesn’t reproduce and contribute to cat overpopulation. There are approximately 600 million felines on the planet, according to Smithsonian Magazine. But spaying and neutering are no longer your only choices when it comes to contraception for your cat. Permanent birth control without surgery may be on the horizon for cats in the form of injections.

Scientists test birth control injection on cats

A new study in Nature claims that a single injection of anti-Müllerian hormone can prevent breeding-induced ovulation in female cats, resulting in “complete infertility.”

This development involves gene therapy, and delivers birth control via injection into the thigh muscle of female cats.

According to Smithsonian Magazine, “The shot delivers a viral cell—with the parts that cause sickness removed—and within the cell is genetic material. The DNA tells the cat’s muscles to create a protein called the anti-Müllerian hormone, until it reaches 100 to 1,000 times the normal levelThis appears to stop the ovaries from maturing and releasing eggs.”

Advantages of birth control injections for cats

Experts in the field of feline medicine are excited about this development, namely because it allows the sterilization of cats without the need for surgery. This could be a game-changer when it comes to controlling the feral cat population.

“Surgery, especially in feral animals, has extensive stress and cost involved in trapping the animals, relocating them to a surgery facility, doing the surgery, holding them overnight and then releasing them,” veterinarian Aime Johnson told New Scientist. “A simple injection would allow trapping, injection, and release immediately.”

The biggest advantage of injectable birth control is its non-invasive nature. Unlike spaying and neutering, the injection does not carry the risks associated with anesthesia and surgery, like infection and hemorrhage. Also, recovery time from surgery is long, lasting seven to 10 days if there are no complications.

More research needed

All that said, injectable birth control for cats is still in its infancy. Scientists must do more research to confirm the new method’s effectiveness. The study from Nature was very small, consisting of only nine cats, six of whom received treatment. Two of the cats that received injections mated with males, and did not become pregnant. While this is promising, the sample size is too small to draw widespread conclusions about the effectiveness of the injection.

So, until the feline birth control injection becomes available, make sure to spay or neuter your cats. It’s currently the best way to help control overpopulation. Want to learn more about the procedure? Read up on the history of spaying and neutering pets. Also, check out the health benefits of spaying or neutering your cat.

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