cat nibbling at pills

Birth control pills can be effective in the prevention of unwanted pregnancy, but they should not be used as a long-term solution.

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Non-surgical contraception for cats: Are birth control pills safe?

By Greta Inglis Dog Behaviourist | Animal Behaviourist

Published on the

Preventing the birth of unwanted kittens is an important part of responsible ownership. Let's look at whether the birth control pill is a safe solution for your feline friend.

Did you know a female cat can have 2-3 litters a year? 

This means just one cat and her offspring can produce up to 400 cats in 7 years, and with so many unwanted litters across the world, it's important to ensure your pet doesn't contribute to the overpopulation problem. 

Birth control comes in many forms for cats, from a contraceptive injection - which is applied every 3-4 months - to the surgical method of spaying.

How can I prevent my cat from getting pregnant naturally?

As a caring cat owner, it's normal to wonder what natural options are available for your feline friend. However, the only natural birth control method for your female cat is avoiding male cats altogether during oestrus (their 'season', when mating can occur).

While this may sound straightforward, it can be more complicated to carry out than you may expect. Cats are notorious escape artists, and a female cat in heat can be pretty determined when it comes to finding a mate! 

The most common method of birth control, and the most effective long-term solution for avoiding unwanted pregnancy, is to have your cat spayed. This surgical procedure has the additional health benefit of preventing mammary tumours.

Is there a birth control pill for cats in the UK?

A Queen will go through their first oestrus at 6-12 months of age. While surgical spaying - whereby vets perform an overiohysterectomy - remains the safest option in preventing pregnancy, a birth control pill also exists

The cat pill contains the hormone Megestrol Acetate, which works by blocking a cat's heat cycles. It must be administered outside of the 'heat' itself and the cat must not be pregnant. Experts recommend a single 2.5mg dose of MA be given once a week, either in liquid or tablet form. 

Where can I buy cat birth control pills?

Birth control pills are currently only available in the UK by veterinary prescription. Your vet will want to meet you and your pet, to discuss the options available and to carry out a health check of your cat. 

Birth control in this form is available as a liquid or in pill form, which is given by mouth or on your cat's food. For the hormonal treatment to work, it's essential that your cat takes the full dose prescribed, and that there's no risk of another cat consuming the medication.

How much does birth control for cats cost?

The cost of birth control depends greatly on the method used. Natural birth control involves keeping a female cat isolated from male cats, in order to prevent the possibility of pregnancy. While it doesn't come with a cost, it is an unreliable method if there is any risk of the female cat coming into contact with a male. 

The cost of the birth control pill and of having your cat spayed will vary based on the veterinarian you choose. The cat birth control is only available in the UK by veterinary prescription, and following a consultation. 

Should I administer my cat's birth control in their food? 

Administering the cat birth control pill by mouth can be complicated, and it runs the risk of your pet spitting it out as soon as they're out of sight. Another option is to administer the treatment on food, either by requesting the liquid form or by crushing the tablet into a powder. 

Using only a small amount of a food your cat loves, mix the medication in thoroughly and watch over them as they eat it. If they leave an empty plate, you'll know they've received the correct dose. Be sure to check no other cats in your home can get to the food at the same time, or you run the risk of your cat's oestrus cycle continuing.

Is the birth control pill safe for my cat? 

As with any kind of hormonal treatment, there are certain risks associated with this form of pregnancy prevention, and for this reason experts do not recommend the pill is used as a long-term solution.

Cat birth control pills have been associated with the following health concerns: 

  • Weight gain, due to an increased appetite 
  • Breast mastosis
  • Uterine infections
  • Mammary tumours. These have been found to be cancerous in up to 90% of cases.
  • Diabetes Mellitus
  • Pyometra - an infection of the uterus. This is usually a surgical emergency requiring immediate treatment.

While these side effects may not present for all cats, it's important to be aware that the cat birth control pill does not come without risk. This is why you will need to seek veterinary advice before deciding if this is the best option for your feline friend. 

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