This Best of Bogue column originally was published Jan. 4, 1996.
Dear Gary: I have a 3½-year-old female Sealpoint siamese cat named Sheba. Her personality and disposition are something you have to experience to believe. She is probably not too much unlike your late Isis. She is my favorite cat ever, and I have had many in my 20 years of owning different cats.
Sheba is and always has been an indoor house cat. I wanted to know if breeding her or having her fixed will change her personality for the worse. I have heard many different opinions.
I may want her to have one litter of kittens and then have her fixed, but I am afraid of doing either in fear that her vivacious and loving personality will also be altered. Also, does not having her fixed lead to health problems later in life?
DEAR STEWART: My late, great Isis cat was "fixed," and she was also one of my favorite cats, ever.
There are a lot of myths associated with spaying or neutering our pets.
"Females make better pets if they have a litter before being fixed."
"Neutering an animal will make it fat."
"Spaying a female cat before she has a litter will make her mean because she has been deprived of the joys of motherhood."
Those are just a few pet myths, and they're all baloney.
Pets are like people in that they come in many different personalities, which has little or nothing to do with being neutered or not.
I know of no cases where spaying or neutering has caused the animal to change its personality for "the worse." On the other paw, allowing Sheba to breed and have that one litter can put her at risk for assorted medical problems relating to her pregnancy. And what do you plan to do with all the surplus kittens?
I have seen little or no personality changes in neutered pets I have known, other than maybe to make them even more affectionate.
I doubt that Sheba's loving and vivacious personality will be affected. Certainly not for the worse. I bet you won't spot any difference.
In answer to your health question, un-neutered females are at risk for uterine infections and mammary cancer, and males can develop prostate problems.
Spay your wonderful kitty. I don't think it will spoil your special relationship.
DEAR GARY: I read with interest the letter in your column regarding the "elderly" cat found by a family in Livermore.
Please, tell them not to give up in finding that cat a home. I am confident she will find a place to live out her final years.
It is tragic that people feel, as their pets age, they no longer want to bother with them. I have four foster cats that were abandoned. I know the right home will come along for them, too.
Tell Mrs. A. not to get discouraged. There are caring people who will take an older pet.
Community Concern for Cats
DEAR NANCY: I couldn't agree with you more.
Excuse me a moment. I was just handed a note by one of our editorial assistants: A woman just called in response to your column on the older cat needing a home. She said she and her husband have a bed all ready for an older cat. Their cat died a week ago. They have adopted older cats before.
Excuse me, will you Nancy? I have to go call someone about an older cat that needs a home.
Gary Bogue has retired after 42 years of writing this column. If you have animal-related questions, contact Joan Morris at firstname.lastname@example.org; or P.O. Box 8099, Walnut Creek, CA 94596.