A funny thing happened to our cat Lucy yesterday.
When we started fostering Lucy two months ago, her name was Jake and everyone giggled over the girl-cat with the boy-cat’s name. We were told that Lucy’s first mom thought she was a boy and the name just stuck. The first thing we did when we decided to adopt her was change her name, and being the nerds that we are, we chose an obscure one-off villain from The Simpsons to be her namesake.
Well, we took Lucy for her first vet visit yesterday, and during a thorough examination, the doctor said the one thing no pet parent wants to hear: “I don’t mean to alarm you, but…” And thus we learned that Lucy is actually, incontrovertibly, a Louie. (His official full name is Lucius, after Lucius Malfoy, of course.)
My best guess is that when Louie was neutered, someone accidentally marked it as a spay in their system, and no one looked afterward, because why would they? As long as he’s sterilized, it doesn’t really matter. Either way, he’s likely to have a longer, happier life, with a drastically lower risk of cancer or injuries from fighting. Neutered male cats don’t spray to mark their territory, which means less mess, fewer bad smells, and no strays coming around to either fight or mate. Neutered cats are less likely to get into fights with other cats, get injured from fights, or pick up chronic and potentially fatal illnesses like FIV. Spayed females don’t go into heat, which can be a miserable experience for cat and owner alike, and don’t attract the attention of unaltered neighborhood toms. Female cats are also prone to tumors in their mammary glands and uterine infections if they’re not spayed, which can be both expensive and fatal. Sterilizing cats also lowers the overall cat population, resulting in fewer strays and shelter cats, and fewer cats euthanized for lack of resources.
It is true that neutering can be expensive, and spaying even more so. The cats at Henrico Humane Society are spayed or neutered before they’re adopted out, which helps reduce the burden on new owners. Several organizations in Richmond offer low-cost options for spaying and neutering, including the Richmond SPCA and Prevent-a-Litter in Carytown. But really, this one-time cost is more than offset by the lifetime of benefits. Because Louie is sterilized, we’ll be able to cuddle with him for a long, long time, and not have to spend money patching him up after walkabouts, and that’s what really matters.
As for Louie, he doesn’t care about his apparent gender fluidity. When asked for comment, he headbutted me and wandered off to find a sunny napping spot. He has his priorities, clearly.