Genetic injections help stray cats to contraceat

American scientists have introduced single-dose contraceptive injections for female domestic cats, a gene therapy injection method that prevents reproductive induction of ovulation and can provide a less invasive strategy to control populations than current standard surgical sterilization. The study was published June 6 in Nature Communications.

It is estimated that 80% of the world’s 600 million domestic cats are stray cats. These cats usually live in harsh conditions and are known to hunt large numbers of wildlife. However, euthanizing healthy cats in cat-infested shelters raises ethical issues. Although surgical sterilization is now the mainstream means of pet cat population control, there is still a need for efficient, safe and economical permanent sterilization options.

In a proof-of-concept experiment involving nine sexually mature female cats, David Pepin, Cincinnati Animal and Botanical Garden William Swanson and colleagues at Harvard Medical School found that receiving a gene therapy injection successfully prevented pregnancy in six female cats, while three in the control group had no effect.

Pelin said the injection, which delivers a transgenic anti-Mullerian hormone, has recently been shown to inhibit follicle maturation in mice. No side effects were observed in the cats during health examinations two years after the injection.

Although further testing is needed to determine its safety and efficacy, this method may provide a rapid, easy-to-apply option to induce lifelong neutering of domestic and stray female cats. (Source: Feng Weiwei, China Science News)

Concept art inspired by The Little Prince. Written by Lydia Pepin

Adult female domestic cats involved in the study. Image courtesy of the Cincinnati Zoological and Botanical Gardens, USA

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