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Contraceptives may control feral cat population

Researchers from the University of Florida recently found that a single dose of the immunocontraceptive vaccine GonaCon limits fertility for multiple years in adult female cats, CatChannel.com reports.

In the study, researchers gave single dose vaccinations to 15 female cats and placebos in another five cats. Then, the cats were given access to a breeding male cat. All five placebo cats were pregnant within seven to 28 days, while 93 percent of the cats treated with GonaCon stayed infertile for a year, while 73 percent remained infertile for two years. The numbers continued to decrease, but 40 percent of them were still infertile after four years.

We’re hoping this research will lead to a nonlethal method of control for feral cat populations that is less expensive, labor-intensive, and invasive than current methods, such as surgical sterilization,” lead researcher Dr. Julie Levy, director of the Maddie’s Shelter Medicine Program at UF, said in the study.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals endorses the Trap-Neuter-Return technique as a humane and effective way to control feral cat colonies, its website reports.

Although sterilizing cats permanently would be ideal, a contraceptive like GonaCon may be effective in managing feral cat populations when surgery is impractical or unavailable, experts say.  
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