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I have 2 kittens with my family, a male and female. My family is strongly opposed to having them spayed/neutered for ideological reasons, and I've tried having that discussion with them, even at a vet (they'll say something like "how would you like it if you were forcibly fixed?")

Anyways, we'd like to prevent them from breeding and having additional kittens. Is there any such thing as birth control or other alternative method for it? Could I just reliably count on identifying when they go into heat and just keep them separated during that time? We haven't owned cats before, so if we can just keep them separate, is it obvious when to separate them (what signs to look for)?

The male is slightly under 4 months old and the female is slightly over 1 month old.

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    "Trying to keep them separated" is going to result in more kittens. Source: that's where I got my previous cat.
    – Allison C
    Feb 14 at 1:45
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    @AllisonC I assumed so. Is there any kind of birth control, or is neutering/spaying one of the 2 the only real option?
    – ieatpizza
    Feb 14 at 6:15
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    MAybe have a look at this similar question for some arguments pro neutering. Your family should stop humanizing the cats and start seeing the real effects their lack of action will have. The cats will still be able to smell each other, so as soon as the female goes into heat, they'll both call and search for each other nonstop each night for several weeks. Good luck trying to sleep... and consider how the cats feel during that time.
    – Elmy
    Feb 14 at 7:00
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    Would they be willing to rehome the cats? After all, why put themselves in what they see as an ethical bind, when the cats could simply go to someone else? It sounds like you've already tried reasoning with them, but I can't help but think that mindset is inherently contradictory, since people wouldn't want to be kept as pets either.
    – Kai
    Feb 14 at 16:44
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    You could talk to your cats about birds and bees.
    – C.Koca
    Feb 14 at 17:53
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Is there an alternative method beneath surgery?

Yes. There are treatments for the female cat, to avoid her heat (weekly oral medication or monthly injection) and for the male cat, to decrease the production of sperm (implanted hormone chip for periods between 6 month and 3 years).

Is this treatment practicable for not-breeders?

Not really. It is stress to go to the vet each month for injections or to control that the oral treatment would really be eaten. Also, the treatments are expensive and not available everywhere in the world. Additionally, it strongly increases the risk of cancer!

What would an sterilisation cause:

Sterilisation means, the tubes of the reproductive organs would be cut. So the hormones would be there (heat for male and female as normal), but the breeding is not possible, because the sperm and egg will not get where they are "needed". This would cause a lots of stress in cats. Because they feel no love like us, mating in cats is a rough thing and it seems proved that pain is essential for the reproduction in cats. (Please see the related question here and here, and try to explain it to your family.)

Less stress and cat-suffering with castration:

In this option the reproductive organs would be removed. So the female cats will have no hormones to get in heat and males no need to mount. They can live in peace together and do not miss anything. There will be no kittens one needs "to get a rid of", which (as first litter in the neighbourhood) may find a nice home, but more likely will go to a shelter, or as strays to the street, or in the worst case need to be killed (There are people everywhere, who do not feel with animals as living creatures, sadly...)

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I recently heard of methods used by breeders as mentioned previously, but it doesn't seem practical at all. Expensive for the owners and continually stressful for the cats, since it's not a one time thing like being fixed. You may be able to see signs and keep them separate, but that's taking a big risk even still. If someone isn't with them 24/7 you could easily miss the signs until after they've already mated, leaving you with kittens to either keep and take care of, or find a home for.

Now it would be VERY unethical to declaw, so I'm hoping that's a view your family shares, but to me it's far more ethical to have them fixed since they experience a lot of negative effects from going into heat. It's not like humans where we "make love" for enjoyment. Then there's the issue of WHEN you have a litter of kittens to do something with...

Whatever the outcome, good luck to your family and your cats! Hopefully it all turns out for the best.

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