Neil the vetWith the crisis affecting the Euro making all the headlines, I am far more worried about Dollar. Before you wonder if you are reading the financial section, instead of the Pet Column, let me explain. Dollar is, or rather was, a black and white tomcat owned by 23 year old Melinda Farren from Rugby. For reasons best known to herself, she had decided not to have him neutered but, over a period of time, he had returned home from his wanderings with notes stuck in his collar requesting her to do so.

One day, when he appeared off colour and slightly low, Melinda took Dollar to her vet and the penny dropped. He had been catnapped and castrated by persons unknown. To be franc, Dollar was no longer the full shilling. Now you may not give tuppence for his plight but the local constabulary confirmed that this is a criminal offence and, mark my words, this is not the first time a situation like this has occurred. Whilst not condoning the offence, I can understand why someone could be driven to commit it.

Many people who decide not to neuter their tomcat quickly change their minds when their pet’s antisocial behaviour starts, generally at around seven months of age. The most obvious is the spraying of incredibly smelly urine in the house. Since this is not normal urination but territory-marking behaviour, owners’ attempts to clean away the smell are usually met with even more spraying. Typically, new items like furniture or regularly washed materials, such as bedding, are prime targets. This is bad enough when  caused by your own cat, when at least you can decide if it is tolerable or if neutering is to be carried out, but when someone else’s tom treats your front door as part of its territory it can be very frustrating. It may be that Dollar was one of those individuals who felt secure in his own environment in Miss Farren’s house but sprayed wherever the presence of another cat was apparent. She then might have been happy but her neighbours would not.

It may have been, however, that someone was upset because Dollar was attacking their cat, causing injury and abscess. Frequently, young tomcats will maraud around trying to improve their position in the local pecking order and battling along the way with every other feline they find. Some can be terribly brutal and go back to bully weaker cats continually. Our criminal may have known that castration would reduce this aggression.

Whatever the reason for a neighbour nominating neutering for Dollar, one thing is clear. It might, despite the feelings of his owner, be a lifesaver for him. Many killer diseases of cats are spread by blood and saliva. Fighting and sexual activity are the most common causes of these spreading from cat to cat.  Feline Leukaemia Virus and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus are far more common in un-neutered tomcats for this reason. Because both diseases are slow killers, these toms can infect many other cats before they die.

And look on the bright side, instead of castrating Dollar, someone might just have dumped him in the pound.

Neil McIntosh BVM&S MRCVS

Abbey Veterinary Group

Paisley and Greenock

Work 0141 887 4111

Mobile 07771 577 852



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