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Animals 2019, 9(1), 2; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9010002

Attitudes and Practices of Australian Veterinary Professionals and Students towards Early Age Desexing of Cats

Environment and Conservation Cluster, School of Veterinary and Life Sciences, Murdoch University, Perth 6150, Australia
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Received: 26 November 2018 / Revised: 14 December 2018 / Accepted: 17 December 2018 / Published: 20 December 2018
(This article belongs to the Section Companion Animals)
Full-Text   |   PDF [430 KB, uploaded 24 December 2018]

Simple Summary

Globally, desexing is used to reduce/prevent overpopulation of cats. However, its effective use is hampered by widely held views that it should occur at around six months of age, whereas female cats can breed from four months of age. As a result, many cats may have an unplanned litter before they are desexed. In Australia, increasing numbers of municipalities are mandating desexing of cats by three months of age, before the traditional age of 4–6 months. Achieving this goal requires support from veterinary professionals, so we used online and face-to-face surveys to determine the preferred desexing ages for cats and rationale of 957 Australian veterinarians, veterinary nurses, veterinary science students, and veterinary nursing students. A complementary survey of 299 veterinary practice websites across Australia documented information provided about desexing cats. Vet nurses and nursing students were more conservative than vets or vet students, preferring to desex cats (especially females) after four months because of concerns about anaesthetic risk. Over half of surveyed websites provided no information about desexing cats or offered desexing without explaining why it was necessary or when to perform it. In Australia, the preferences and practices of some current/future veterinary professionals do not match changing cat legislation.

Abstract

Surgical desexing of cats is typically carried out after six months of age (Mature Age Desexing, MAD); between 4–6 months (Traditional Age Desexing, TAD); or before four months (Early Age Desexing, EAD). We complemented existing surveys of veterinarians’ acceptance of EAD with online and face-to-face surveys, to ascertain the preferred desexing ages for cats and rationale of 957 Australian veterinarians, veterinary nurses, veterinary science students, and veterinary nursing students. A complementary survey of 299 veterinary practice websites across Australia documented any information provided about desexing cats. The most common reason for preferred desexing ages was reducing stray cat populations (30%); 78% of these respondents chose ages aligning with EAD. Vet nurses and nursing students were more conservative than vets or vet students, preferring to desex cats >4 months. Perceived anaesthetic risk was a major motivation, especially for nurses ≤5 years’ experience. Across 299 urban practices in Australian capital cities, 55% of surveyed websites provided no information about desexing cats or listed desexing without explaining why it was necessary, or when to perform it. Increasingly, Australian legislatures mandate desexing of cats by three months of age, so the practices of some current/future veterinary professionals do not match changing legislation. View Full-Text
Keywords: cat; early age desexing; education; legislation; nurse; student; survey; veterinarian; website cat; early age desexing; education; legislation; nurse; student; survey; veterinarian; website
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
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Crawford, H.M.; Calver, M.C. Attitudes and Practices of Australian Veterinary Professionals and Students towards Early Age Desexing of Cats. Animals 2019, 9, 2.

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