Could a Shot Replace Spay-Neuter Surgeries?

As many of us know, spaying and neutering is the front-line strategy to reduce the overpopulation of cats and dogs.

Well, in June, the journal Nature Communications dropped a bombshell report on research that shows a one-time shot of a gene therapy could provide long-term birth control for female cats.

The study the research is based on involved a very small sample of just nine cats, but the results were promising, with female cats that received the shots not ovulating for two years.

As Smithsonian Magazine reported, “In the study, female cats were injected in their thigh muscle. 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 level, per New Scientist. This appears to stop the ovaries from maturing and releasing eggs.”

While exciting, don’t cart away the operating tables just yet. Experts say the shot (if approved in the future) will not do away with spay-neuter surgeries, but will offer veterinarians one more tool in their arsenals to combat the growing cat population, estimated to be 600-million worldwide.